Case Study: Leveraging GIS Technology To Streamline Riser Inspections
Risers are a critical infrastructure point for any pipeline operator. Larger operators may have thousands of risers, scattered across various states or provinces and often located in remote areas. The failure of a riser can mean costly repairs, fines, and downtime. Every riser needs inspections, maintenance and repairs, but manually overseeing thousands of individual risers can be difficult and costly.
Operating across North America, TAQA North is one of the largest pipeline operators in Canada. With over 5,300 individual risers to manage, across a pipeline network over 7,500 kilometres in length, the paperwork alone was staggering. Rob Allison is the Asset Integrity Manager & Chief Inspector for TAQA. Under Allison’s leadership, in May 2021 TAQA shifted to a dedicated software solution for managing field operations, called FIND.
“Before using FIND, we used an electronic filing and review system,” said Allison. “We then selectively actioned the riser’s inspection based on coating condition, age and risk. This was a cumbersome and onerous undertaking.”
“FIND has allowed us to visualize, in real-time, the condition of the riser and take appropriate action. FIND has provided an organized and scalable means to manage the riser inspection program.”
FIND works by providing field workers with a mobile app, which can be installed on any iOS / Android phone or tablet. The company’s assets are plotted on a virtual map, which can be filtered to show relevant assets, decluttering the interface and helping workers to identify each location.
For each specific activity — whether it is a riser inspection, valve maintenance, or pigging — there is a unique, digital form called a workflow. Field workers complete this form step by step and can even attach pictures or video — very useful when identifying faults or damage.
“Using FIND has enabled us to assign inspection tasks to third-party contractors who were already on site for other operations,” Allison said.
“The workflow was simple and they were up and running in no time. Using FIND and a third-party saved our personnel from having to visit remote sites that were not part of their operating runs.”
Using workflows, the exact location, date, worker name, and other objective data is automatically filled-in, eliminating user error. When the form is complete, it is automatically synchronized to the database.
“It also streamlines the inspection process. The digital forms can be completed in under 30 seconds, and are saving us substantial costs for data collection,” Allison noted. “I would recommend FIND to any company that is looking for a cost effective and scalable solution to manage their riser inspection program.”
Back at the office, the data is plotted on to a colour-coded map — highlighting which risers need to be inspected, which risers need maintenance, and which risers have been recently inspected and found in good working order. For example, if a riser has not been inspected in over two years, it is highlighted in red. This helps operators to prioritize inspection activities by focusing on the most critical assets.
“The visual representation of risers in FIND has been well received by operations and field leadership. The ability to attach digital images to FIND that can be easily assessed and actioned by subject matter experts is a definite benefit,” Allison explained. “The adage that a picture is worth a thousand words holds true in FIND.”
When an inspection or maintenance is needed at a location, the manager can assign a location and a task to a field worker, right in the application. The app tracks how many inspections each worker has been assigned, how many they have completed, and how many issues have been identified with assets.
Automated notifications can be easily set up and configured to individual needs. Operators can flag assets in need of attention, and flexible reporting can detail what has been accomplished. Reports can be set to automatically email to specific users on a regular basis, streamlining reporting.
“FIND has helped us with meeting our regulatory obligations as well,” said Allison. “As part of an AER reactivation assessment, we are able to easily locate and retrieve the data required for the application. With an inventory of over 4,000 risers to manage FIND has demonstrated its value add to the organization.”
Using FIND, TAQA has inspected 4,000+ individual risers in the seven months from May 2021 – February 2022, roughly 80% of their entire pipeline network. By utilizing FIND, TAQA has increased their productivity, and decreased errors in their operations.
“The benefits of implementing FIND includes reduced data collection and management costs, reduced operational risk and enhanced regulatory compliance — FIND has brought the cost of our riser data collection and management efforts down to $10 per site,” said Allison.
“Our inspection and field leadership teams are impressed with the app. The data entry is quick, intuitive and the app has been a major timesaver eliminating paper copy management. Consistent document management has improved our workflow.”
To learn how Cenozon’s FIND can help you manage your riser inspections, or any of your field operations, visit https://www.cenozon.com/solutions/pipeline-integrity/find/
With over 20 years experience developing pipeline software solutions, Cenozon provides clients with a powerful set of tools. Our suite of market-leading software delivers automation and intelligence, so you can make informed decisions, saving you time and money.