Releases (or leaks) are very important to pipeline companies. Common causes for these leaks are equipment damage, both internal and external corrosion, manufacturing failures, and natural hazards like shifting land. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is responsible for releasing reports regarding pipeline releases or leaks. As a result, the ability to track damage that could cause pipe failure and report on it is important.
For one Entrance client, managing the risk of pipe failure is streamlined through a custom software application that allows them to track joints of pipe throughout their entire lifecycle. A recent addition to the application is a module that enables damage tracking. As our client follows a joint of pipe from its creation at the mill, through welding, coating, shipping, and ultimately, tie-in at the right of way, the pipe is examined at each point for damage. If a scratch, dent, crack or other defect is found, the user is able to scan the pipe’s unique barcodes or RFID tags to record the observed flaw in their custom-built application.
This information is stored in a centralized database where users can manage recorded damage and the associated repairs through a maintenance module. Pipes with defects are highlighted in yellow, and pipes that are beyond saving get rejected and marked in red for quick visual indication to the users. The client can also run aging reports to see how long repairs take, or sort defect data by location, date, or type of damage.
This helps provide insight into procedural problems or careless handling conditions that were not apparent without recording what locations and which personnel are frequently involved in damaging inventory. The ability to track damaged inventory also can save money in the long run because, rather than throwing a pipe away, a new weld or re-coating could make it usable again. Once the appropriate repair to the pipe is performed and inspected, the maintenance details are logged, and the pipe is ready for use.
As a rule, any damage to a pipe generally happens in transport or somewhere on the ground. However, occasionally issues with the pipe can be related to manufacturing. In this scenario, you could have 400 feet of pipe with the same corrosion tendencies as pipe from the same batch 4,000 miles away. Our client can track their pipe from the beginning of the process, so if a problem appears to be endemic to an entire batch of pipe, it is thus possible to go back and identify all of those pipes based on their heat number. Rather than wait for a disaster to happen, all of these pipes can be pulled from the field and prevent potentially dangerous and expensive accidents from ever occurring.
In both of these situations, the ability to track and manage pipes and what happens to them means that our client has more control over their inventory, thus giving their oil and gas customers peace of mind. While it may not be possible to prevent damage from happening, the ability to mitigate risk related to this damage by providing visibility and accountability into the repair process makes all the difference.
For more on how this custom software application is helping our client improve their process, read this blog post!