In the pipeline sector, digitalisation unlocks the ability to easily gain and access actionable intelligence from pipeline construction data, which helps to improve understanding, drastically reduces response time, enables preventive measures when required and ultimately reduces instances of catastrophic malfunctioning, right from a pipeline’s inception through to its operation. During pipeline construction, such data serves as a blueprint. Digitalisation is also required for expeditious infrastructure development, accurately tracing assets, real-time data visualisation, informed and collaborative data-driven decision-making, and efficient operations and maintenance (O&M) activities.
A digitally assisted construction process is a requisite for a growing India and a gasified nation. It can automate information processing, edge to edge, to give an accurate view of the status of construction, resulting in smoother operations and a quick turnaround on the ground.
Digitalisation of the city gas distribution (CGD) network through the adoption of relevant technology is the only way to achieve India’s infrastructure development targets.
The digitalisation of construction generates value through quality monitoring, which eliminates the need for human processing of updates and automates the quality assurance process. User approval history is also recorded. Before a pipe is backfilled, the required parameters are recorded digitally using mobile devices in order to increase data quality. Long-term storage of data is also available in electronic media. The elimination of paper from the network data updating process increases process efficiency through automation.
All activities, from stringing to hydro testing, are logically linked through a conditional flow that restricts an activity until the previous one is completed. Providing field employees with the ability to alter data on any device and at any location increases worker productivity. With high-accuracy global positioning system (GPS) tags, it is easy to locate an asset based on its attributes.
The purpose of the audit module is to report, monitor and track all audits/visits at an organisation. Such modules cover quality assurance site technical audits, asset integrity risk audits, pre-commissioning audits, regulatory audits and senior management site audits.
The FieldOn application is a self-sufficient, made-in-India solution tailor-made for pipeline construction projects (steel and medium density polyethylene), and in accordance with quality requirements for the CGD industry in India. It is also the sole solution to the construction issues plaguing the medium density polyethylene pipeline network in India. It offers paperless workflow approvals and hassle-free quality monitoring. It integrates Bluetooth-enabled high-precision GPS devices such as Arrow 100, which gather high-precision data during construction. It also integrates a geographic information system (GIS). It is inexpensive and of high value, and keeps standard operating procedure (SOP) data and project data in one location. Moreover, material used in construction can be efficiently tracked with this application. A project’s consumption is also monitored.
Gas and pipeline industries are currently confronted with a number of obstacles. Incomplete pipeline models and lack of integrity have been some of the key obstacles, indicating insufficient documentation and unconnected gas networks. Moreover, even if paper or digital map data is accessible, there is a lack of rules, quality control and standards. Yet another obstacle is the lack of enterprise systems integration.
There are numerous departments that utilise network data. However, these departments employ siloed methods and have contradictory perspectives on network data. Only the construction field crew has access to what is unfolding at the job site – the design and operations teams remain in the dark. This means that there is no single SOP followed by all teams, leading to confusion and inadequacy in addressing a common problem across regions and departments. This results in repeated capturing of the same data. The lack of a single data source could eventually force each team to construct its own data structure, leading to data inaccuracies and omissions.
In the gas pipeline sector, a certain degree of negligence during construction or a lack of information can lead to major disasters and life risks during the operation phase. The majority of errors or disasters have occurred as a result of faulty welding or poor quality materials. Documentation for a pipeline under construction includes approvals and SOPs, pipe stringing data, results of non-disruptive weld tests and hydro tests, inventory consumption data, and data of locations where a network or a gas pipeline is being lowered. The number of manual reports has declined with the use of digital data to automatically generate reports for audits.
Challenges that must be overcome during implementation include reluctance to adapt to new technologies, the requirement of extensive training to familiarise a team with new software, ensuring availability of appropriate equipment and machinery, selecting the appropriate software for the task at hand, and selecting an appropriate implementation partner for the task.
With digitalisation, project information can be automatically transferred in real time to the appropriate database straight after acquiring right of way. Inspectors can update the database with their findings in real time. Key decision-makers can access and analyse the data to gain actionable insights in real time, permitting them to make choices promptly and execute preventive steps against asset failure. Field staff can obtain crucial data right from the working site, enabling fast decision-making for construction-related challenges. For example, in the event of a pipeline leak, operators can readily access data pertaining to all the actions that were taken, the personnel involved and the timeline of events, and then prepare a report for the regulatory bodies.
Going forward, by removing the need to gather data from files or paper-based record systems, owners and operators can substantially reduce overhead hours and predictive capabilities. Once a pipeline is in operation, this data can be used for ongoing pipeline integrity management during its operational life cycle. This system can be used to maintain inspection and maintenance schedules, and excavation reports. Having access to this information will also facilitate the development of machine learning and artificial prediction models.
Based on a presentation by
Karthik Sagar, Growth Leader Research and Development, Magikminds at a recent India Infrastructure webinar