Articles

Case Study: Material Traceability and Data Integrity on a 60 km Pipeline Summer, 2016

November 14, 2016

Vintri Technologies is focused on providing technology-based solutions to the issues surrounding material traceability and asset data integrity for the pipeline industry.  Regulatory pressure and social license to operate are coming more into the foreground, and pipeline Owners/Operators must be diligent in their processes to properly document and maintain high quality data about each aspect of their pipeline. Vintri’s solutions across the entire supply chain are ideal for helping Owners overcome these challenges.

Problem

Historically, material traceability has been handled at the individual contributor level – maintain asset identities through your standalone process and pass it forward to the next contributor.  However, the disconnect between stakeholders has led to significant and costly issues causing material traceability to become one of the biggest sore points within the industry.

In addition to the issue of material traceability, access and quality of asset data has become a pressing concern. Through asset manufacturing and pipeline construction, innumerable stakeholders physically alter the pipeline assets (field bends, welds, pupping) and also contribute and add data to each asset – making this an extremely difficult process to manage traceability and maintain high quality data.

The reliance on manual transposition of asset identifiers (i.e., transferring a Pipe ID and Heat # from the inside diameter to the outside diameter via a grease pen) can lead to misidentified assets and significant risk to a pipeline project. There is little to no consolidation of data and rarely is there any validation of the data throughout each step of the process to ensure completeness and alignment to specifications.  In turn, Owner/Operators are left with a gap in what they need to properly operate their pipelines and are exposed to significant regulatory risk relating to their due diligence.

Quite simply, building a pipeline requires immense contributions from several different parties – balancing and managing the data that is created and required for the long-term operations of the pipeline is a tremendous challenge. Any solution to this issue must consider the complex flow and processes that each individual stakeholder in the chain have established over the years while not forcing them to completely reinvent their processes. 

Solution

Vintri has developed and implemented solutions that address both material traceability and data integrity.  With each project Vintri works as a representative of the Owner/Operator within the supply chain.  First, Vintri implements a material traceability solution that leverages proven barcode technology coupled with modern software to mitigate the risk of lost asset traceability throughout the process of manufacturing and building a pipeline.  Second, Vintri provides their Data Services solution to manage critical asset data from key supply chain stakeholders.  This leverages Vintri’s asset data conformance tool, vintriID, to assemble, standardize, and audit asset data as it relates to customer and industry defined specifications.  Identifying and managing non-conformances in near real-time through manufacturing and construction of the pipeline significantly reduces costly field data issues and ensures that the Owner/Operator has complete and standardized asset data for the long-term operations of the pipeline.

The Project

Vintri recently implemented their traceability and data integrity solution for line pipe and induction bends on a 60km natural gas pipeline project in Alberta, Canada. Vintri’s involvement started at the material procurement stage and continued through to the construction of the pipeline.

Key deliverables:

  • Up-front analysis of the supply chain’s material traceability and asset data output capabilities
  • Requirements gathering within the Owner/Operator to establish asset data requirements and project specifications
  • Establishing and implementing a material traceability solution specific to the project and selected suppliers (included supply of appropriate barcode labels and software tools, as needed)
  • Processing and standardizing supply chain data within Vintri’s asset database
  • Analyzing supply chain data leveraging Vintri’s conformance engine to identify non-conforming asset data
  • Iteratively working with the supply chain stakeholders to understand where non-conformances came from and process data updates, providing the Owner/Operator with clean, usable data on their assets
  • Completing a thorough audit report of processes and results within the project detailing areas of improvement and recommendations for future best practices

Discoveries

The services were executed over approximately 6 months as the pipes and induction bends were manufactured and the pipeline was built.  The impact of the service was noticed immediately.  Initial passes of the traceability and asset data through Vintri’s conformance engine identified significant gaps, including the following:

  • Attribute data gaps – assets were processed without appropriate data captured for specific attributes such as coating thicknesses or holiday counts
  • Supply chain interaction – it was identified early in the process that data from one supplier required by a second supplier was not consistently managed
  • Traceability gaps – inconsistencies in processes and suppliers caused issues with respect to maintaining asset identities throughout the entirety of the process
  • Excess data causing confusion – raw data from each supplier was processed and several of the inputs provided to Vintri included data from completely separate projects, unrelated to the project at hand

Through the first data audit and twelve conformance checks for the project Vintri identified:

· nearly 100% of the assets had some form of data issue

· 12.8% were significant and could have compromised the long-term operations and due diligence of the project

· Vintri reduced the data issues to under 0.15% of assets within the project.

The pilot project was a success, and the Operator’s expectations were surpassed.

Having asset data that is standardized, verified and complete results in cost savings on the highest cost component of a pipeline project – the pipe, which is crucial in today’s competitive market.

For more information on the regulations affecting data management of the pipelines, and the solutions Vintri Technologies can provide, please visit: www.vintritech.com or email info@vintritech.com.