Summarizing an Asset Reliability Strategy for Midstream Pipeline Operators

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Across multiple industries, companies are looking to drive efficiency and profitability; in many cases, part of this strategy is tied to leveraging digital transformation. Over the last few months I have been sharing how midstream companies are looking at refining their asset reliability program and how digital transformation has become a critical piece of this equation in their operations.

This post is really intended to revisit these themes I have been talking to over my last few posts and how they are tied together.

Digital Transformation: What are we really talking about here?

When I hear digital transformation, my mind instantly goes to taking a paper-based activity or action and sticking it in a database. It is obviously so much more than that. In the midstream, I start to think about the market dynamic of consolidation, expansion, and the ease of being able to monitor just about anything with sensors whether they are temperature, pressure, vibration, leak related or otherwise. The options, while not endless, have expanded significantly and give rise to managing an ever-increasing dataset. Manage is not really the right word; it is all about being able to take that dataset and leverage it to drive decisions and create value.

This value can be created in many areas whether it is through process optimization, knowledge capture or as we have been focusing on: asset reliability (covered in my first blog post). This is often associated with the rotating equipment side of a pipeline operation (not the physical asset – the pipe which is the focus of Asset Integrity); Think pump or gas turbine at the station. One could ask “How do we start capturing some of that value?”

Getting started

Many pipeline operators we work with explicitly have an internal team charged with Asset Reliability often called explicitly “Reliability”. In others, this is rolled in with other aspects of maintenance or integrity management. These teams have a set goal in terms of ensuring the safety and ultimately, reliability of the moving parts of the pipeline (not necessarily the physical pipe asset). When a specific goal is set to reduce maintenance cost or reduce unplanned downtime, it isn’t always obvious how to get from A to B and the actions that an oil or gas pipeline can take. Recently, we published a blog that laid out that foundation of how companies can optimize their existing Asset Performance Management strategy with an APM Assessment.

Here is a look at some customer savings achieved through an APM Assessment:

APM Assessment Results

Bridging the gap

So, the APM plan is in place, the operator is ready to move forward with driving its digital transformation but a gap potentially remains when it comes to aligning OT and IT. This discussion would likely get started during the APM Assessment process. As part of our blog series, we did discuss some of the driving questions that arise as a pipeline operator proceeds upward in their asset performance management journey. This could range from driving field optimization with mobile data capture to laying the foundations of a consolidated data model for their assets.

For those interested more information on OT IT consolidation and a how operators are transforming data into actionable insight, check out our webinar recording on Bridging your IT OT Information Gap.

Predicting the future

In our blog series, we continued moving through the APM journey from a reactive to proactive maintenance program. Once a company has that common data model whether through an enterprise historian or other data source the value of their investment begins to grow significantly. We walked through what predictive analytics means to a midstream operator specifically in terms of being able to better manage the maintenance of their rotating equipment (pumps/compressors/turbines). What this really translates into is being able to schedule maintenance when potential risk is detected allowing a company to act instead of react which translates into improved reliability and ultimately profitability.

Understanding the value

There are many ways to validate the investment of continuing the journey from reactive to proactive asset performance management as part of their digital transformation. This can come as the money saved from early warning of a crack in a turbine rotor, reduced energy consumption to minimizing unplanned downtime. The bottom line for an operator becomes excellence in asset reliability that translates to maximized safety and profitability.

What’s next

Focusing on Asset Reliability is not new when it comes to midstream pipeline operators. Being able to ensure safety and uptime is paramount to their business model. Where Dorothy’s trip down the yellow brick road led to Oz, a pipeline operator’s Asset Performance Management journey leads to Digital Transformation. The question is who is at your side on your journey. For those wanting to explore APM further, Kim Custeau has put together a great blog series all about Researching APM Providers (Look for Proven Results, Long-term Roadmap and Vision and Open, Agnostic System)

The Schneider Electric industrial software business and AVEVA have merged to trade as AVEVA Group plc, a UK listed company. The Schneider Electric and Life Is On trademarks are owned by Schneider Electric and are being licensed to AVEVA by Schneider Electric.


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  • Stacey Larter

    6 years ago

    An excellent blog – well worth the read!

  • Interesting read, I think you’re right in that being able to determine the value of increased reliability is key to success and will help to sell the concept of a reliable plant within the wider organisation.

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