Pipeline Integrity Management and Data Science Blog

Benefits of Integrity Management Beyond Avoiding Pipeline Failures

Over the last 50 years, operators have worked hard to reduce the risk of pipeline failures. The framework for their integrity efforts is provided by federal and state regulations, which prescribe when and how operators deal with pipeline threats. Of course, taking integrity management beyond the regulatory minimums has benefits.

It makes sense that your integrity department focuses on areas where the risk to the pipeline is highest. This attention helps them maximize company resources and stay within budget. On the other hand, by limiting themselves to high-consequence areas (HCA), they miss out on an entire pipeline’s worth of data.

What if your engineering team could assess every anomaly, not just those with regulatory triggers—and still meet their budget?

Embracing the latest machine learning technologies will advance your integrity program to the forefront of the industry. A forward-thinking process adds value where you might not expect it, from stabilizing budgets to streamlining interdepartmental workflows. In brief, better management tools can boost cost savings that pay off company-wide. Here’s how:

Improved budget planning

Budgeting the short- and long-term spend for pipeline integrity is a challenge. Integrity engineers must respond to immediate threats while deciding when and how to mitigate others. Advanced integrity analysis helps create accurate long-range budget forecasts, and this enables you to establish a precise estimate of the pipeline system’s ROI.

As you can guess, underpinning any dependable budget is accessible data. Financial numbers become more transparent when you can drill into high-level estimates and access robust reports.

For example, when managers present their departmental budget, they must be able to quickly demonstrate where their numbers come from. Switching your integrity team to a connected solution makes rolled-up budgets more trustworthy. Even better, is a system that uses advanced analysis technology to improve maintenance predictions and create a stable forecast with fewer peaks and valleys.

Confident compliance reporting

Integrity departments devote much of their effort towards creating PHMSA and CFR reports. And honestly, even when they file everything on time, they still end up getting audited.

Your organization is doing all the right things to manage integrity, but when it comes to an audit, talking about it isn’t enough—auditors demand proof. Producing physical pipeline records is an important requirement for the PHMSA mega rule. Data gaps and incomplete records lead to costly, unexpected, fines not to mention the erosion of the regulator’s trust.

An integrity management system that uses data science to integrate information will enhance your ability to generate timely, accurate compliance reporting. With access to real-time information, your audit team can speed up preparation, and produce data and records on the fly to fulfill an auditor’s request. An integrity management system—designed with compliance in mind—allows you to confidently meet auditors with a smile as they walk through the door.

Strong company reputation

When you think of integrity management, growing the organization’s reputation isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. That’s because pipeline issues that never happen go unnoticed. Right? Not always.

Pipeline integrity does influence important stakeholders. For instance, when an organization leads with new technology—or worse, falls behind industry standards—word gets around. Stakeholders such as investors, industry peers, and regulators absolutely take notice.

By embracing innovations, such as machine learning and data science, your organization builds its status as a leader in the industry. And with a trusted reputation, you’ll see value across the board; on subtle concerns like job applications to broad businesses matters, like contracts and customer confidence.

Streamlined organizational processes

Pipeline assessment and repair won’t be on the agenda of every meeting, but integrity data affects multiple areas of business. For example, seemingly unconnected departments such as Land, Environment, or Records sometimes require integrity data, not to mention teams like ILI or Corrosion that depend on pipeline analysis every day. A good management process speeds up all integrity requests.

If engineering departments work in silos, they rely on report requests or calling to get the info they need. This process is inefficient, unreliable, and leads to decisions based on erroneous or outdated data.

That’s why today’s integrity management solutions are integrated, enterprise-wide. When business groups have access to a data lake, they can work off of a trusted, single source of information. Rather than relying siloed data, a centralized system gives teams access to vast pools of information. The interconnectivity makes for fewer errors between departments, and with streamlined workflows, upper management gets the information they need, faster.

Informed business decisions

If you had a crystal ball, you’d create the perfect business strategy and never worry about unplanned expenses. But until then, informed analysis backed by reliable data is the best bet to de-risk business opportunities.

An integrity department that analyzes data for an entire pipeline system—not just HCAs—contributes an essential piece to the big picture. A management solution with the ability to combine multiple data sets, helps your integrity team paint a clear picture of the system’s overall health.

This level of understanding is a crucial aspect of company-wide decisions, such as setting operational policies or divesting pipeline assets.

More than preventing pipeline incidents

The last thing anyone wants to think about is a pipeline failure—not operators, not regulators, not investors, and certainly not the public. Preventing ruptures is one reason you have an integrity department, but that’s not the only reason. Investing in integrity management benefits the entire organization.

It improves long-term budget accuracy, breaks down data silos, and helps you make better business decisions. Integrity management is a critical piece of operating a profitable pipeline.

With access to cutting-edge machine learning and data science technologies, integrity management teams can easily exceed regulatory requirements, which benefits the whole company.

Find out how our cloud-based Cognitive Integrity Management “CIM” platform can seamlessly integrate into your organization. Contact OneBridge at 1-877-261-7045