Adam Reale, Alex Knittel, and Grant Cooper, MISTRAS Group, USA, outline an integrated approach to data management for pipeline integrity in an industry that is rapidly advancing.
The most widely-used methods of pipeline integrity data management, though effective in years past, are becoming outdated as the industry moves into a new age. With the implementation of the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) expanded guidelines for pipeline integrity management (IM), commonly called the ‘mega rule’, existing data management practices do not provide the level of integration required to make data “reliable, traceable, verifiable, and complete”, as the rule requires. The necessity to make data complete and accessible has created the need for pipeline operators to evolve their methods of pipeline data storage and utilisation.
Pipeline operators require a provider that is able to handle their comprehensive data requirements. A company such as MISTRAS Group – a One Source Provider of Asset Protection Solutions® – that has a history of providing value to its customers by successfully integrating and cohesively analysing data from multiple inputs in the downstream sector, is poised to do the same for pipeline operators. Upon realising there was a void in the midstream sector, the NDT provider acquired member brands Onstream and New Century Software to work jointly with its powerhouse Plant Condition Management Software (PCMS) to introduce a data management solution that supports every aspect of pipeline IM data management.
This integrated data journey is helping to usher in a new era of pipeline IM where operators are able to utilise a holistic digital approach that puts safety, compliance, and cost at the forefront of asset integrity.
Existing issues with pipeline data management
Historically, following non-destructive testing (NDT) and inline inspection (ILI) data acquisition, inspection data has been housed on spreadsheets and filed away, with some organisations using a combination of hard copy and digital storage of the inspection and integrity data. However, NDT and ILI services are often performed by separate contractors, each with different reporting methods and data storage platforms. Data from even the earliest stages of new pipeline construction must inform personnel years later, and the efficient delivery of this data from field personnel to operators is essential in responding to current and future potential damages. Creating gaps in this interconnected data can cause operators and inspection personnel to potentially miss threats to asset and personal safety, along with potentially increasing costs down the road if necessary maintenance activities are overlooked.
Even with digital documentation, files can be disorganised and misplaced without a centralised location to store information. For pipelines that have been in operation for decades, having documentation stowed away in cabinets does not allow for the quick accessibility required by today’s jurisdiction. The lack of a dedicated asset performance management (APM) application or geographic information system (GIS) can potentially result in missing critical data that would indicate a future failure.
In order to remain compliant with increasingly stringent regulations, and to have access to the comprehensive integrated data to make the most informed operations and maintenance decisions, operators can realise significant value by integrating all newly-acquired data.
Integrated data highway
The future of pipeline integrity data management starts with creating a data highway for seamless transportation from the field, and a central data warehouse to store it. Use of digital reporting platforms, such as MISTRAS Digital, can eliminate the need to manually input data into an APM. This has the ability to provide large gains in time and cost efficiencies, and ensure that all data is standardised and accounted for.
A digital reporting platform is designed to optimise the process for requesting non-destructive evaluation (NDE), forecasting schedules, assigning tasks, executing field work, reviewing results, publishing reports, and generating key performance indicators (KPIs). It can allow mobile devices to conveniently store and access data and documentation including:
- Isometric drawings.
- Weld maps.
- Pipe schedules.
- Inspection histories.
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