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As part of US energy services holding company Southern Company Gas’ goal to maintain quality asset records, the company invested in a three-year project to map over 2,100 miles of its existing transmission pipeline system in four states with high-accuracy GPS. 

Southern Company Gas selected Locusview’s mapping technology to be used throughout the duration of the project by several contractors. 

After two years of use, the technology has been an important part of Southern Company Gas’ pipeline mapping project and has resulted in cost savings, efficiencies, increased visibility and workforce flexibility. 

Southern Company Gas is expected to be under budget for the 2020 project plan, in part because of Locusview’s mapping technology.

Andrew Vondrak, Director of GIS and Asset Data, Southern Company Gas, said, “Having high-accuracy spatial data is important for pipeline safety. It improves damage prevention and allows the company to more accurately assess and mitigate risk.

“Our engagement with Locusview enabled the project to utilise a single ‘turnkey’ solution that any field resource (contractor or employee) could use within a couple of hours of being trained.”

How it works

The existing pipeline is first located with traditional locating equipment and then mapped with Locusview software and high-accuracy GPS with an average accuracy of 1.5 inches. 

The data is immediately available for viewing by Southern Company Gas through the real-time web viewer. Field collected data is reviewed by the field contractor at the end of each day and delivered to Southern Company Gas weekly.

Soon after the project started, Southern Company Gas saw an opportunity to leverage the mapping crews to also perform right of way (ROW) patrols. 

A form with the ability to upload photos and GPS was added to the mobile application, allowing the field crews to perform both operations in parallel.   

Benefits

Southern Company Gas has realised three benefits from utilising Locusview technology on its pipeline centerline mapping project:

  1. Cost savings

Data collection in the field was more efficient and didn’t require post-processing, which reduced the overall cost of the service.

Cost savings will also be realised by reducing the time and labour required to process data for integration into GIS. Southern Company Gas receives data in a consistent format with known quality which makes data management more efficient. 

Eliminating the separate ROW patrol also provided a cost saving to Southern Company Gas, and the project is expected to be completed under budget. 

  1. Workforce flexibility 

Traditional approaches to pipeline centerline mapping allows the contractors to utilise their own technology to capture data. 

This approach decreases the operator’s flexibility in changing or adding contractors to the project because it may result in changing the data content and format of the mapping data deliverable.

By requiring all contractors to utilise the technology and data model designed by Southern Company Gas, the company was able to easily bring new contractors onto the project with the assurance that the data quality, content and format would remain consistent.

  1. Efficiency 

By having Locusview support the entire solution, issues with hardware or software were handled quickly, reducing downtime in the field. 

For example, the crews were provided with a mobile base station to provide coverage in rural areas with poor cell coverage that were frequently encountered along the transmission line.

Kyle Shimer, Locusview Deployment Manager, said, “The contractors also realized benefits from the use of the technology because it allowed them to see their work in real time without the need for
downloading and post-processing. Supervisors were also able to see the daily progress in real time through the web application.”

This partner content was brought to you by Locusview. For more information, click here.

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