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Data Management Strategies for an Efficient Implementation of Industry 4.0 Integrity Assessments

Abstract

Operators have a choice of a vast range of specialised integrity assessment software. Often implementation requires investment of significant resources and full return on investment may not be realised. Is it therefore even reasonable to expect that existing software is phased out before the planned amortisation date or point of obsolescence in favour of a single solution?

The authors believe not; this however highlights the existing problem of compartmentalisation within integrity management. An operator, inspection company or engineering consultancy may have implemented the leading software for each specific threat to integrity, but in many cases data transfer is limited to human intervention, often using spreadsheets. The risk caused by human induced errors, and of specific threats being overlooked is increased if integrity assessments are performed in non-interconnected silos.

Cloud infrastructure, artificial intelligence, proliferation or sensing devices, improvements in remote sensing technology, faster processors, access to skills and organisational cultural changes offer opportunities for the pipeline industry to better manage risk to pipelines. In a digital era why would an operator of a pipeline producing dynamic and or high risks accept the results of an assessment based on data that can commonly be 6 months older or more? We know we can access live data from sensors such as corrosion probes, pressure and other operating parameters, so why would the assessment continue to be referenced to a single point in time?

A key question might be; is digitalisation enough, or should the industry be aiming higher and be implementing an Industry 4.0 compatible strategy?

The authors aim to define the above, answer these questions, and demonstrate how improved data management, and improved formats for data transfer can allow implementation of Industry 4.0 pipeline integrity management which reduces compartmentalisation and allows improved deliverables such as live integrity assessments and reporting, which overall can help operators reduce the risk of future pipeline failure.

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