Industrial Internet Technology For Safer, More Efficient Pipelines

October 2014, Vol. 241, No. 10

GE and Accenture last month announced the launch of the Intelligent Pipeline Solution, the first-ever Industrial Internet offering to help pipeline operators make better decisions concerning the condition of their critical machines and assets in the oil and gas pipeline industry.

It combines Pipeline Management, a GE Predictivity software solution powered by the PredixTM platform, with Accenture’s digital technology and systems integration capabilities, to help customers make better, faster decisions on their pipeline operations to improve safety and prevent costly downtime. Columbia Pipeline Group (CPG), strategically located within the Marcellus and Utica shale plays, will be the first customer to implement the new technology across its network of 15,000 miles of interstate natural gas pipelines.

“We need an agile and comprehensive pipeline solution that could be delivered quickly and allows for a more real-time view of pipeline integrity across our interstate natural gas pipelines,” said Shawn Patterson, president, operations and project delivery, Columbia Pipeline Group. “GE’s industrial Internet software platform and extensive pipeline equipment and inspection capabilities combined with Accenture’s strong industry knowledge, digital capabilities and experience with business process and systems integration made them the clear choice for CPG.”

“Pipeline Management helps customers proactively make the right decisions at the right time to keep their assets safe,” said Brian Palmer, president and CEO, GE Measurement & Control. “We’ve delivered a comprehensive software solution that helps operators prioritize where valuable resources are needed most and respond to potential events with a higher level of confidence. We anticipate transportation pipeline companies using the solution will see operational efficiency improvements in integrity, maintenance, safety and regulatory compliance.”

Current transmission pipeline infrastructure stretches across nearly 2 million miles globally. Considerable amounts of natural gas transported in the United States are coming from the Marcellus and Utica shale plays, and operators like Columbia are looking for ways to keep up with current demand. Much of the U.S. pipeline infrastructure has been in place for at least 20 years, and operators are taking added precautions to ensure safety remains at the forefront when transporting increased production volumes from shale formations.

Pipeline companies are investing up to $40 billion a year to expand, maintain and modernize existing infrastructure. To help make the most of these significant investments, operators increasingly require more robust data, real-time workforce planning and information to optimize the safe performance of these networks and relevant systems.

“Accenture and GE have unveiled a breakthrough solution with a global standard for pipeline safety and productivity,” said Peggy Kostial, senior managing director for Accenture’s North America resources operating group. “We are excited about complementing GE’s industrial software experience with Accenture’s deep industry experience in system integration and change management services that are needed to unlock the true value of Intelligent Pipeline Solution. This is a tremendous opportunity to use advanced analytics and digital technologies to help Columbia Pipeline Group address its key industry challenges.”

The Intelligent Pipeline Solution is the first industry solution co-developed and brought to market as part of a strategic global alliance formed by GE and Accenture in 2013. They have said they will together develop technology and analytics applications that help wide-ranging industries take advantage of the massive amounts of data generated through business operations.

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In another development, GE’s Measurement & Control also announced it has entered into a cooperation agreement with Atmos International, a leading global supplier of pipeline leak detection and simulation technology. As part of the partnership, the two companies will offer a more comprehensive leak detection solution to pipeline operating customers, providing enhanced solutions to improve flow metering, according to GE.

“The partnership combines GE’s flow metering product line and expertise with Atmos’ pipeline technology as a holistic offering for the oil and gas industry,” said Christina Andersen, general manager for Measurement & Control. “The expanded solution integrates superior flow instrumentation and ultra-modern software to optimize pipeline monitoring for detection and location of leaks and product thefts, and provide early information to the operators for fast and accurate critical decision making. “

The agreement combines the strength of Atmos’ differentiated leak detection and simulation products with the strength of GE’s flow meters and expertise to expand and improve flow solution offerings to customers, she said.

“This partnership offers the pipeline industry seamlessly integrated solutions. GE’s expertise as a flow meter technology leader will ensure that our customers can access innovative flow technologies,” said Dr. Jun Zhang, founder and managing director of Atmos International. “Both companies recognize the value in enabling users to carry out high-performance software analysis with reliable and effective flow measurement data.”

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