Innovative pipeline monitoring system under development
A data-driven, sensor-based ‘Smart Sleeve’ product for use in pipeline maintenance and repairs is under development to give pipeline operators and regulators a new benchmark in cost-effective operations, safety and peace of mind.
The initiative is led by Lloyd’s Register (LR), a global provider of engineering- and technology-centric professional services, and Western Specialties (WS) to develop and commercialise a novel integrated pipeline repair method. WS is a technology company that specialises in composite reinforcement systems on pipelines and is excited to release new reinforcement solutions with LR’s technology and sensing capabilities.
It will provide the industry with one of the world’s first intelligent pipeline monitoring and repair sensing solutions.
“We are taking two existing technologies that are currently being used today and merging them into something that can finally provide insight to operators and regulators on their ageing infrastructure,” said Ryan LaVergne, director of technology at WS. “Taking this proactive approach on monitoring anomalies can help predict what’s going on without having to perform future digs as well as give a multitude of data points used in future calculations.”
“External forces on infrastructure such as weather or tidal conditions, terrain movement, undetected breaches of the pipeline structure and corrosion damage are just a few examples of the many issues facing pipeline operators,” highlighted Clinton Abbate, senior analyst at LR’s Energy business in Houston, Texas. “It is common knowledge that recent years haven’t been kind to the pipeline industry. But now, as the market begins to settle and new methods of improved operation take hold, LR’s new and critical piece of technology could be the answer that many operators are looking for.”
Alan Turner, senior concept developer at LR, said: “Our technology contains sensors enabling a variety of features, including pressure, temperature and the possibility to monitor infrastructure for overburden, re-rate, corrosion or crack monitoring as well as movement in geologically active areas. We have created an approach that can detect when repairs that are made to a pipeline are in need of inspection, reducing the need for unnecessary digs — onshore or offshore.
“It is a 24/7 monitoring system that offers pipeline operators and regulatory authorities an overview of how safe a pipeline actually is every minute of every day.”
The method prototyped by LR and WS gives the best of both worlds by providing a repair solution and monitoring system built into one.
The technology provides pipeline operators with advanced analytics to give a clear picture of what’s going on with a pipeline at any time.
“We can set our Smart Sleeve and sensor product to record and timestamp all movement, including the actual direction of movement, pressure, temperature and strain,” said Turner. “This data can be stored in the LR Cloud, which then allows regulators, operators and technical engineers to access information from any location and publish updates to the operator’s SCADA system. This provides added support for our customers because we can supply more information for better reporting, helping each pipeline operator to further improve how they manage and reduce risk.”
And if something doesn’t look quite right, Smart Sleeve can trigger a response for inspection or provide operators with a choice of options to minimise disruption or harm to individuals or the environment so that the pipeline facility remains intact and safe.
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