Free Initial Consultation

Let's Grow Your Business Together

Submit your Request

How did you hear about us?

Make an Appointment

Computer Systems and Databases Facilitate Pipeline IMP and Risk Management

Introduction

Corrosion personnel were probably one of the first groups, if not the first in the maintenance crews to develop and use databases to compile data collected during their field surveys. They would use these databases to later analyze, and make several determinations; from checking the current protection status of their systems, forecasting future needs, and even to demonstrate why improvements may be needed, and later use them to assist in developing annual budgets, upgrades or repair estimates.

These databases were great at providing information and data at a moment’s need, simply by querying the particular information within the database. These databases were generally only accessed and used by the corrosion department, but could later be reviewed by others as well, but only as read-only files. Of course, only the corrosion personnel would have read and write privileges.

Computer History - 101

It was not too many decades ago when a whole room would be designed and dedicated to just one computer system. These earlier computer systems required a lot of room and actually needed a cooling system that would prevent the computers from overheating. Now the same capabilities of these earlier computers are provided in computers that are hand-held, and can do much more than their early predecessors. It seems there is at least one computer involved in almost all we do today, and in some cases through initial design, computers are actually needed. For example, should an aircraft’s computer fail, in some of the latest models, it would be very difficult, probably even impossible to the pilot.

Today computers have made such pipeline processes as engineering, design, operations and even maintenance much quicker and much more efficient. The computer’s first real in-roads to the pipeline industry came as a need in both engineering and design, but today some pipeline systems are controlled, monitored and operated, for the most part by computers. It is safe to say, and a lot of people would agree that most of what we do today so effortlessly, may have been very difficult to achieve before the inroads of the computers.

Computer Uses Today

Let us briefly consider some of the needs of the computer today within the pipeline industry that were not even considered in pipeline industry’s early history. The computational pipeline monitoring (CPM) systems, for example can be found in use today in almost all pipeline systems in some aspect or another. Some of the earlier CPM systems seem simple by today’s standards, but they were basically designed and installed to better detect and alarm the operators of leaks, should any occur, allowing them to more quickly get the situation or incident under control. These systems were earlier designed to do little more than monitor the pipeline’s input and output pressure, temperature and flow rates; in some cases, should it detect any difference, it would alarm the operator to its detection, but these have since gotten much more sophisticated and now play a much bigger role in the scheme of things.

Probably developed because of the CPM, or perhaps nothing more than just a natural progression of things, the pipeline owners and operators have raised the bar, or up the ante as it were, by installing supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems. Today with the ever-developing use of the computer, several pipeline systems can virtually be monitored and control from one central remote location. And of course, as the computers become more lean and productive, so do the peripherals and programming needs.

As computer systems and their needs have grown, so has their uses. By doing what is expected of various computer systems, and their programing, a lot of data is acquired and stored. Early on, the primary reason for this data collection and storage was merely due to the fact that the SCADA system needed it to make certain decisions, react automatically to alarms or to maintain control within the pipeline’s designed parameters. The pipeline industry also quickly realized that the data collected and stored by the computers could be very useful in answering various questions that may arise from a specific period of time during the pipeline’s past operation, such as during an emergency, or during an abnormal operating situations. It now has become a normal mode of operation to query a system’s database from time-to-time to answer many questions, or maybe just to simply satisfy one’s own curiosity as to how well a recent alteration to the pipeline system is performing.

Database Access

The pipeline industry is in a mode of sorts, now where there exists for each pipeline system several different computer systems and programs, all managing their independent areas of concern and having their own separate databases. As the needs change through design and/or regulations we have become more aware of the need and conveniences of accessing all these databases to accommodate the many changes in operations, design and other facets of owning a pipeline. In the past, when fewer programs were used, it had not been too much of a problem to have a separate database for each program, because of information, whenever needed, one would just go to that particular program, access whatever the database had available, and go on to the next database if more information were thought to be needed, and hoped to be available. It is quickly becoming the norm that more than one database access for information is needed to satisfy a particular issue or situation. Because the databases were originally designed to merely satisfy a particular program’s needs, sometimes not all data retrieved from multiple databases seems to merge well together in a real meaningful manner. This is where a program such as SunNet Solution’s MyDat@IQTM begins its introduction into the history of computers and computer programming.

Sunnet Solution’s MyDat@IQTM

SunNet Solutions is a web application development and information technology (IT) provider with over 17 years of commitment to serving their clients with IT solutions. They provide a full range of services in the areas of software development, enterprise software solutions, database application and web portal development. From small businesses to large corporations, they provide affordable IT solutions that will maximize efficiency and increase profit through optimum web-based applications.

MyDat@IQTM database manager is just one of many programs SunNet Solutions has to offer. It is a multifaceted and unique database manager that begins as a standalone foundation program that can be customized and integrated with, to meet any customer’s data management needs, and although it is not the only database management program available, it is certainly thought to be one of a kind.

Even though its programming core begins as what appears to be just another database management program, MyDat@IQTM does much more than just store and retrieve data. MyDat@IQTM not only remembers where it had put everything, but also remembers how to quickly retrieve it. This program is designed to manage multiple databases, while leaving them, and their data content intact and unchanged. MyDat@IQTM can copy and merge all, or some information of all databases together into one main database if needed. MyDat@IQTM will help in making almost all decisions, and will even offer up suggested options with possible end results for resolving many questions and requirements that come with managing such a large ongoing program as an IMP, for example.

Through programing, this database management program can be built to accept any, and all forms of data; handwritten, photographs, drawings, quantitative values, etc. MyDat@IQTM has the ability to not only access and retrieve data from other databases, it can also be programed to evaluate the data as it receives it, and ensures that it understands all it needs to know, in order to store it properly (again, through its initial programming), and will even check against all other similar data that already exists – no matter where that data is located.

If while data is being entered appears to be a duplication that already exists in another form, or does not merge well with what is already available, MyDat@IQTM will prompt the computer program operator to check it, and make any necessary alterations to ensure the data is good, and is stored properly. And as it should be, for historical purposes, this database manager will not over-write any data.

The Many Uses Of MyDat@IQTM

Most of this discussion will be centered on an integrity management program (IMP), and how well MyDat@IQTM assists in improving the performance of any IMP and its end results. However, MyDat@IQTM has much more to offer in other areas such as project management, operator qualification, public awareness, accounting, and etc.

Most pipeline operators’ IMP, just in their nature, have become massive database user, and really should be. As we all know one requirement for a good IMP to perform properly, with good results, is having all available information quickly within an operator’s reach. The IMP regulations have been in place now for many years, and because of this, the pipeline operator has amassed tons of data and employs many different databases full of good and useful data. Within these pre-existing databases, there lies some very valuable and much needed information. Some of this data has probably been available for years and probably forgotten, but just the same, provides very important information for so many processes within the IMP that are needed and required. Any good IMP needs to be ever-aware of all historical data, no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time it was first entered, and should be data considered during all phases, or implementation of the many IMP processes. As is the nature of program databases, all data collected and stored, no matter the collection process or format used, is associated with a particular pipeline system, or a segment within a pipeline system. MyDat@IQTM can be programmed to understand these and many more associations by knowing just where to find data when needed – again, no matter how insignificant that data may have seemed initially. This database manager does not discriminate when considering available data, if data is available for whatever reason; MyDat@IQTM will bring it to the forefront offering it up as a possible consideration, no matter if any IMP process being implemented.

IMP Management

For the benefit of this IMP management discussion we will use a mock project call the “Recoat Project” performed sometime in the past. Let’s say this project took place some 14 years earlier on a 30-year-old pipeline system. We will use this mock project, and its data as a single maintenance incident that we will carry throughout various examples of how MyDat@IQTM works, in an effort to explain and highlight the many program features, expectations and uses. Also, in doing this it is hoped that the reader will better understand how important one item from some otherwise seemingly obscured historical data can be used over, and over again as a very useful means for something as involved and massive as a good IMP, and give some insight into how MyDat@IQTM actually works, while also highlighting some of the features that it has to offer.

A good example of how MyDat@IQTM will work within many aspects of operating a pipeline, just by being always available, and waiting for the go-ahead to run. Let’s take the following common example, MyDat@IQTM has in its database (in this case, available from a historical maintenance record) records of a 1,500 feet segment of pipeline recoated, and within another database it is noted that its cathodic protection (CP) system’s protective current output reduced as a probable result, at the same time. A good maintenance record, but not thought of since was developed of the Recoat Project and served as a very good piece of historical data to have for various reasons at the time it was recorded, and now while trying to determine threats for this pipeline during an IMP risk analysis process, it becomes even more important and becomes a consideration to MyDat@IQTM rather than just a maintenance record. MyDat@IQTM is aware that this information is available, because that is its basic nature to always consider all available during any process it is asked to perform.

It is the job of MyDat@IQTM through its programming to be aware of this data through its continued awareness and recognition that a lot of good information exists from many records for various reasons. One of the items that MyDat@IQTM considers and would find noteworthy and possibly important as future reference, is the Recoat Project did not include any pipe replacement or repairs since the external wall loss was found to be minor, leaving more than enough wall thickness to continue operating the pipeline safely. But again, the wall loss did cover a large area as general corrosion, so the Recoat Project was quite an undertaking. It was also noted in this particular maintenance report that the root-cause was poor coating leaving too much of the pipe’s exterior exposed to corrosive elements, and no other threat contribution was noted. The CP system was in play, but was being operated at a level that if left uncorrected may have later caused more serious corrosion problems with all of the pipeline’s coating system failing in that general area. Before the coating repair the CP maintenance records also indicate that even with the CP system’s protective current at an elevated level, the pipe-to-soil potential readings were not what was required to fully protect the pipeline. When completed the Recoat Project was a success, in that the CP system’s protective current could be reduced after follow-up investigations were performed. All of the good work and good record keeping was probably initially recorded for prosperity, and thought to be nothing more than simply a matter of historical information. Now some 14 years later MyDat@IQTM has access to this information and will use it as consideration for as many processes it is programed to initiate.

Risk Analysis

Without being asked MyDat@IQTM will always be aware these records exist, and will bring them and others like them to the forefront for consideration, no matter what task or process is being performed. Once the risk analysis program is made aware of these records, including relative details that MyDat@IQTM has extracted, the risk analysis results will be much more exact; a threat that may have gone unnoticed is now elevated to its proper level of consideration. After all, if a pipeline coating has already failed in one area, one should consider the possibility that failure could exist elsewhere, and should be thought of as a valid mechanical integrity threat. MyDat@IQTM will make this, possibly forgotten information relevant.

Integrity Assessment Method and Remediation

The Recoat Project again comes into play while trying to determine an integrity assessment method and making determination for all possible remediation considerations. Thanks largely to the work of MyDat@IQTM during the risk analysis process; we now know external corrosion, due to coating deterioration is a real threat consideration, especially making the coating suspect elsewhere. Because of a history of wall loss due to poor coating, the decision is made to use an inline inspection (ILI) tool as the method for integrity assessment. As the results of the tool run are analyzed the data is then imported by MyDat@IQTM into its database for storage, retrieval and further analysis. While MyDat@IQTM considers the anomalies, and begins to prepare the dig sheets for remediation as required by the appropriate regulations. It should be noted that MyDat@IQTM is aware of where the high consequence areas (HCA) are and uses this to correctly prioritize the digs and repairs. To continue with our Recoat Project example, let’s say there are a total of 550 anomalies in need of attention, and are grouped in 27 general areas, with only 15 of these found within HCA. MyDat@IQTM has not forgotten about the historical Recoat Project record, and realizes that 5 of the areas noted, because of their location are called out as areas of concern and are included as anomalies in need of repair. This recognition is added to its report, and suggests that these may have already been taken care of some 14 years earlier by the Recoat Project – remember no repairs or pipe replacement had occurred to restore any wall loss, so these could be the very same anomalies found at that earlier time. As it turns out the Recoat Project’s new coating was still in very good shape as verified by a few pipeline exposures, and the wall loss depths that were called out by the ILI tool were, indeed preexisting, and with that bit of information, more time and effort would be better spent on the remaining 10 areas, of which were really of lesser consequence in this particular case.

Preventative and Mitigative Measures (P&MM)

Remediation is complete and a reassessment of risk is performed. The overall risk value for the pipeline system has been reduced, and because not all of the existing coating was replaced of course, it is now time to use MyDat@IQTM to determine any P&MM that may be appropriate to reduce the risk value even more. By accessing information from its database and any others available to it, MyDat@IQTM is able to offer up possible P&MM that are available, and will even offer an opportunity to provide possible effects each proposed measure would have on the risk value should they be chosen to implement. If it has in its programming, and has access to necessary financial information, it can also provide an estimate for cost and any risk reduction realized for any possible P&MM considered. After the P&MM are implemented, MyDat@IQTM will simply ask if a risk analysis is wanted, or based on its programing, would just provide the current risk value and can also provide new threat prioritization, as well.

Program Self Evaluation

Because MyDat@IQTM has all that is needed to perform, or implement a very large and demonstrative IMP, it also has every capability and available data for evaluating how well all processes have performed, and produce records and demonstrations in any format a pipeline operator could think of to prove or show ongoing progress and any cost savings. And if IMP personnel are at a moment’s loss for a demonstration, MyDat@IQTM can, of course offer up suggestions – at this point would you expect less?

Today’s computers have become great tools for doing almost everything, and in using the best available programs just make the computers even better tools, and even more of a necessity. Hopefully this writing has given some insight into how all of this is possible. The many capabilities of MyDat@IQTM have only been touched-on here for introduction purposes, with the surface scratched only, but it is hoped this has instilled enough interest and consideration to promote the use of this innovative and very powerful database management program.