Applus+ use of geographic information systems to enhance field integrity assessment


    In 2019, Applus+’ US based Facility Integrity Assessment (FIA) Team was approached by a large Midstream operator about the possibility of implementing a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) component to the above ground piping inspection package we were providing them. After discussions with the Client to identify the features they were looking to collect, the FIA Team worked with internal resources to determine the necessary equipment needed to execute the work and develop a deliverable that would meet the client’s needs.

    This collaborative effort resulted in a multi-site pilot inspection program that included GPS/GIS related field data collection that required data to be collected at centimeter level accuracy. After a trial and error process of utilizing multiple GPS model units, an ideal model was selected to collect the data using a custom Data Dictionary. This involved providing the field technicians with GPS units that included satellite imagery of the facility prior to arriving onsite.

    Collection of the client facility GPS/GIS data provided the Operator with access to valuable information about features located along each inspected piping segment. After the data was collected onsite, it was imported into ArcGIS software for spatial location and review. Maps were then generated in PDF format for the inspected pipeline, highlighting all features collected, as well as the pipe centerline. Feature data was then exported to Excel to provide a data mining benefit to the report deliverable package. The final step in the reporting process was to export the data to a Google Earth KMZ file format. This allowed the client to perform a virtual walk through of their facility and to access any desired feature data with the click of a mouse.

    The Pilot Project was deemed a success by the midstream operator in late 2019 and Applus+ was awarded the opportunity to sole source their entire facility integrity program in 2020. This inspection program has been dubbed “Enhanced Facility Integrity Inspections” by the client.

    As this process evolves, we are embracing the opportunity to further develop our GPS/GIS offerings to include additional data that will help operators make informed business decisions. One of the possible value added enhancements includes the development of an interactive Dashboard. This would allow an operator to view the status of all scheduled inspections in progress across their entire system by highlighting the current status of each piping segment on a map. We also envision the possibility of offering an enhanced dashboard feature that would have the ability to display a piping segment pass/fail indicator, which would allow operators to recognize trends across multiple facility piping segments in a rack. This would alert them of potential problems before they occur. Operators would also have the ability to access the applicable inspection report interactively by selecting the inspection location directly on the map.

    Applus+ is embracing the use and further development of GIS components to provide added value to our existing roster of diverse skills and capabilities. The success of this project highlights Applus+’ commitment to providing our clients with comprehensive and valuable services as industry leaders.

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