In collaboration with Stonebridge, a midstream company took a significant forward step in operational excellence with a volume data reliability solution that provides its volume control team with complete transparency into gas volume data irregularities—upping the company’s customer service game.
The client is a top U.S. pipeline company with operations in some of the most prominent natural gas-producing basins in the nation. Customers of the company called representatives of the volume control team about irregularities in their daily volume data. They might see one number when they checked in the morning and a different number when they checked in the afternoon. The inconsistencies stemmed from issues with field equipment and data flow.
For the volume control team members fielding these inquiries, getting answers was time-intensive, requiring numerous phone calls and emails to multiple teams.
To be more responsive to customer questions and improve daily reporting, the volume control team needed more visibility into the end-to-end flow of volume data as it goes from raw, field-reported values to measurement data analysis and reporting.
The company has an ongoing relationship with Stonebridge Consulting to drive operational excellence across the enterprise. In keeping with that initiative, they formed a working group that included members of the volume control, measurement, and SCADA teams. The group agreed the problem centered on data flow issues between source systems. For instance, SCADA data from a meter might be late due to equipment failure. When SCADA data was missing, the FLOWCAL measurement system would auto-estimate the volume and continue updating pipeline management systems during the day.
Getting ahead of the problem first required a new communication process to keep the three groups on the same page as to volume-related data issues. Second, the process would be supported by a volume data reliability dashboard, accessible by all three teams, to proactively monitor volume data handoffs between source systems.
Stonebridge took the lead on creating the volume data reliability dashboard. Stonebridge consultants pulled together data from the three systems: meter data from SCADA, measurement data from FLOWCAL, and volume data from pipeline management systems.
- Previous Day Failures – This screen includes a list of data issues by parent meter; by meter number and source system; and by meter-specific attributes such as meter number, meter name, technician, tower name, device type, and location.
- Master Meter Status – This view shows the status of data issues, from origination to current state, by meter number and the status of child meters grouped by parent meter. Users also can filter the view to show when failures initially occurred per meter and when volume data was changed.
- SCADA Summary – This view enables the SCADA team to do a deeper dive into current system status and whether SCADA data was successfully transmitted to the FLOWCAL measurement system.
- FLOWCAL Summary – The view allows the measurement team to see whether FLOWCAL received SCADA data or if volume data was auto-estimated; if volume data was passed on to the pipeline management system; and if the data handoff was on time or late.
- Pipeline Management System Summary – This page gives the volume control team with details on the time sequence for whether the data handoff from FLOWCAL to the pipeline management system was late or missing.
The dashboard also includes predefined reports for historical analysis of volume-related data issues, including:
- Failures by Meter Attributes – This table provides an aggregate view of data issues by source system and by specific attributes such as meter number, meter name, technician, supervisor, and location.
- Volume Trends – This table highlights volume records where an issue has occurred. Users can also hover over a record to view original and current volume data status.
- Frequency Analysis – This table shows the frequency of data issues and compare specific meters by a particular attribute.
The dashboard also includes an introductory screen with primary and secondary contact information for help in the event of a data issue in a respective source system. Additionally, the company integrated Microsoft Teams into the communication process for document sharing and instant collaboration among team members.
In the six months since the new volume data reliability communication process and dashboard went live, volume-related data issues dropped from 38 percent to 3 percent per day. The company directly attributes several tangible operational benefits to the volume data reliability dashboard, including:
- Better Customer Service – The volume control group can provide upstream customers with a complete answer on why their volume data changes on daily balancing.
- Proactive Field Service – The dashboard allows the company to accelerate root cause analysis of equipment issues and more quickly deploy field personnel for repairs.
- Improved Internal Collaboration – The dashboard gave business users greater visibility into volume data flow; how data is handed off between SCADA, FLOWCAL, and pipeline management systems; and where a volume-related data issue originates.
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