How Pipeline Operators Can Reduce Unscheduled Downtime
Given current market conditions, the oil and gas pipeline industry is looking at many different strategies to effectively manage operations. The focus is often on operational efficiency to drive profitability and maximize return on midstream assets. Achieving asset excellence is caveated by the constant focus on environmental and public safety necessary to operate in this space.
TechValidate research has shown that three main challenges our customers have with their assets include:
- Becoming more proactive in approaching maintenance
- Reducing unplanned downtime, and
- Reducing maintenance cost given tight margins
Digging into this, it is all about where a customer is in their maintenance maturity. Driving transformation from reactive to condition-based maintenance and up into predictive maintenance helps to solve these challenges for pipeline operations. Many operators still live in a reactive world where maintenance budgets and lack of insight into equipment health hinder their ability to best protect their investment. With time and as they transition into a more learning based organization they see the up-time value of the journey toward a more strategic, proactive and optimized maintenance program.
Moving from Calendar Based Maintenance to Monitoring Operational Conditions
One way pipeline operators have moved toward condition-based maintenance is the transition from calendar based maintenance to maintenance based on operational conditions. Despite being widely acknowledged it still has relatively low adoption. Pipeline operations employing purely calendar based maintenance run the risk of over maintaining equipment which carries increased labor cost and potential errors from manual entry of run-time meter readings. By moving toward operational conditions driving maintenance this can drive automated work orders through the pipeline’s asset management system reducing risk as these are regularly recorded as part of a historical database.
This is the logical next step towards proactive maintenance and the continuous improvement that comes with implementing an Enterprise Asset Performance Management strategy. From an operational perspective, this moves the needle when it comes to increasing productivity and ultimately improves OPEX allowing operators to:
- Proactively analyze and react to potential problems to increase efficiency and better plan maintenance
- Increase equipment availability and reliability leveraging emerging and available digital platforms
- Enable the field workforce to improve decision making