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There are many considerations to keep in mind with pipeline alarm management. In order to keep operations running and staff safe, operators need visibility into every aspect of the environment.

Getting an alarm after a failure in the pipeline is too late. Thus, operators need to know in advance if conditions are approaching a critical state; waiting until after a failure is too late.

Process control systems are the framework of pipeline management

The oil and gas industry is highly complex, characterized by long distances and multiple safety risks. The volatile nature of hydrocarbon products adds other environmental and regulatory risks.

Over time, those risks gave rise to the use of process control systems (PCS). A PCS is a combined hardware and software system to manage a set of processes. There are two major types of PCS in use: Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and Distributed Control Systems (DCS). While there are some differences between the two, they work towards achieving the same goal of overall process control.

The data acquisition focus of SCADA works well with the TiPS LogMate solution. And while SCADA may be the primary PCS, LogMate excels at effectively collecting data from multiple sources. Accordingly, this article will explore SCADA and TiPS LogMate.

Pipeline alarm management challenges

Pipeline alarm management challenges

Because of the risks described above, effective pipeline alarm management demands rapid, accurate alarm notification and problem resolution. These demands pose unique challenges:

  • Many oil and gas producers use inefficient alarm systems that do not reduce nuisance alarms. This overload of alarms can produce alarm fatigue leading to costly mistakes that can even be fatal. Therefore, it is essential to rationalize pipeline alarm management systems regularly as part of the alarm management life cycle.
  • Most alarm management systems focus on after-the-fact reports. They lack predictive analysis to detect and correct issues before failures occur.
  • Root cause analytics are often lacking. You want to know that a fault occurred, why it occurred, and what else happened simultaneously. Otherwise, you will not fix the root cause and the problem will recur.
  • Alarm parameter settings for SCADA or subsystems may not meet your needs.

TiPS alarm management for all pipeline control systems

TiPS LogMate is a full-featured alarm management software product built to manage alarms easily.

Key LogMate modules include:

  • Capture interfaces with various host systems to collect alarm and event data and load it into a Microsoft SQL Server database. A single Capture module has the flexibility to collect data from multiple systems. Alternatively, you can assign Capture “nodes” to individual areas or operator stations depending on individual client needs. The result is one single, accurate alarm database ready for analysis.
  • ACE (Alarm Configuration Expert) provides statistical analysis of alarm activity and configuration. In short, ACE transforms alarm data into actionable information. As a result, alarm rationalization becomes much more straightforward.
  • Signal is a real-time logical event detection and reaction engine. The Signal module receives alarm and event messages and takes immediate action when a defined situation occurs.
  • TRAC is a key performance indicator (KPI) generator that lets you set up metrics and track alarm performance trends graphically.
  • netView is a web browser visualization tool for viewing alarm and event data. As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Without a simple graphical view of such a complex environment, operators will lose control quickly.

Leak detection as an example

One critical issue in pipeline alarm management is leak detection. Pipeline management systems monitor flow at various points along the pipeline and detect pressure changes outside set parameters. However, this information introduces a new stream of alarms that may be outside of SCADA. LogMate captures these alarms.

LogMate also provides statistical analysis of pressure alarms over time and correlates them with other changes that may have caused the problem. One example would be a pump failure.

Additionally, netView provides a graphic view and instructions to speed up operator response.

Workload studies

Control rooms can become chaotic without proper pipeline alarm management, and operators can quickly be overwhelmed. Therefore, tracking and analyzing data on incoming alarms and incoming call traffic is crucial.

For example, which operator gets a heavy load of calls relative to others? The telephone switch can provide reports as a starting point for analysis and corrective actions.

TiPS LogMate can tell you which operators are getting the most alarms. Operators can then use LogMate to evaluate redistribution of alarms to eliminate overloads. In addition, it can identify and eliminate nuisance alarms. Then LogMate can help track the results of changes.

Using LogMate for trend analysis and optimization

Once you have a robust database, you can use LogMate to assess trends. As a result, you can act proactively. For example, you will be able to show trends in the useful life of pumps by calculating the meantime to failure. You can then plan preventive maintenance and replacement accordingly. Most importantly, trend analysis will allow you to solve problems before failures occur.

Once you configure your alarm database, you will need regular audits to ensure ongoing integrity. TiPS supports your audits with an alarm philosophy evaluation and gap analysis. First, TiPS evaluates your existing alarm philosophy and practices, then suggests areas for improvement.

Monitoring other subsystems

The use of PCS has evolved. So, it is not unusual to encounter multiple SCADA or other systems. In addition, subsystems can exist alongside SCADA, resulting in multiple alarm data flows that can lead to alarm gaps.

LogMate corrals all of your systems and subsystems. As a result, you have complete visibility and control over all of your pipeline alarm management.

The takeaway

Take control of your pipeline alarm management now. Leverage the power of TiPS LogMate to tie together your SCADA system and subsystems for world-class pipeline alarm management.

Contact TiPS today for a free demonstration.