Newly Enhanced Leak Detection Software System Aids Energy Company

January 2013, Vol. 240 No. 1

Frank Fromm, Siemens AG, Hauppauge, NY

When Delaware Storage & Pipeline Co. agreed to participate in a field test of newly enhanced software from Siemens for its existing leak detection system, they discovered that the new solution offers a simplified, comprehensive and customizable view of pipeline operations.

Leak Detection Using Clamp-On Flow Measurement
Delaware Storage & Pipeline Co., located near Dover, DE on the East Coast of the U.S., is a for-hire terminal and pipeline company providing bulk storage services to the petroleum industry. For five years, Delaware Storage has used the FUS-LDS Leak Detection System from Siemens to monitor three pipelines that carry jet fuel from a loading dock to storage tanks and then to a primary customer.

The FUS-LDS at Delaware Storage consists of six site stations. Each contains a SITRANS FUH1010 clamp-on ultrasonic flowmeter, a clamp-on RTD temperature sensor and a short-haul modem or 900-MHz frequency-hopping wireless system. A computer terminal ? referred to as the master station ? runs leak detection software to poll each of the site stations once per minute for a wide range of data, including standard volumetric flow rate, liquid temperature, sonic velocity and meter diagnostics.

It uses this information to calculate differences in flow rate between each pipeline segment, and activates an alarm if an imbalance between the inlet and outlet data is detected during any of four integration periods (1, 5, 15 or 60 minutes). The pipeline operator can then determine the location of the alarm and determine whether it involves a leak or theft.

Double Challenge
Siemens recently launched a new version of the FUS-LDS which features enhanced leak detection software integrated into the powerful SIMATIC WinCC process visualization system. SIMATIC WinCC provides the software with a dynamic graphic user interface (GUI). The new GUI offers a major advantage over older, Windows-based leak detection software in that it provides operators with a simple-to-understand graphic representation of pipeline locations and occurrences.

Delaware Storage is a longstanding customer and agreed to participate in an on-site test of the updated system under actual operating conditions. For Siemens, the challenge was two-fold. First, it would be necessary to complete the software upgrade by replacing the master station as quickly and efficiently as possible, since the company could not allow their leak detection system to remain down for an extended period of time.

Figure 2: A dynamic graphic user interface (GUI) is important for leak detection software, as it provides operators with straightforward graphic representation of pipeline locations and occurrences.
Second, the new software needed to make it easier for operators to visually identify pipeline segments and recognize potential trouble spots, thereby reducing response times to any issues that might arise and improving overall safety.

The Solution
On the first day of their visit to Delaware Storage, the Siemens installation team (comprising a project manager, field technician and software consultant) reviewed the current leak detection system and performed diagnostics on the existing master station. The team then loaded all of the necessary topology files onto the new computer. The swap progressed without incident and the new FUS-LDS was operational in less than one hour.

For the rest of the day, the team trained the daytime and nighttime operators to work with the GUI. Both operators found the new system easy to understand and adapted to it rapidly. The following day, the team returned and spoke with one of the operators who offered feedback as to how the GUI could be further customized for this specific application. Although the software was now providing Delaware Storage with an accurate map of their pipeline, the operator wanted to add photographs of actual locations to this map.

Since the new FUS-LDS software has been designed to allow for a high level of customization, this request was easily accommodated. The Siemens team drove to each of the locations shown on the map and took digital pictures which were then uploaded to the master station. Within several minutes, the GUI was displaying these photos in their proper positions.

Overall, the enhanced FUS-LDS Leak Detection System showed these results:

* Switching over to the new system was a straightforward process and did not lead to any operational disruptions (e.g. the nightly archiving of data by the master station);
* The display screen provides instant visualization of pipeline status, eliminating the need for guesswork;
* Operators can be trained on the new system in a very short period of time which is vital for companies operating pipelines in today’s heavily regulated environment; and
* The customizable GUI allows the software to be continually improved, ensuring that it is optimized for each customer’s unique needs.

According to a terminal manager for Delaware Storage, “We are quite satisfied with the FUS-LDS and the results of the field test. From installation to operation, we are finding that the system greatly simplifies the complex process of leak detection.”

Frank Fromm
is business development manager for Siemens AG Industry Automation Division, Sensors and Communication Business Unit.