What are Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have become the backbone of all functions surrounding the design, construction, inspection, repair, and maintenance of assets associated with a company’s pipeline systems. These geospatial information systems allow the company to visualize, in real time, the location of their assets and to have any information associated with them at their fingertips to make informed decisions. Today, many pipeline companies are undertaking reviews of their GIS data to establish the accuracy and completeness of their systems. In many instances, they rely on our industry experts to provide them with the GIS data associated with our services.
When it comes to the design and construction of a new pipeline system, GIS plays an important role in determining how and where that system is installed. From determining the optimal route selection, and knowing potential impacts ahead of time, to providing land ownership details, GIS is a key component. GIS is especially crucial for new construction projects. This is because the client must get that system into their GIS for OneCall notifications, to view and track progress of the construction, or to generate reports from the GIS to keep stakeholders informed of construction progress.
US Federal regulations require operators to spatially locate every pipe joint, weld, flange, valve, etc., along with their attributes in GIS. This is to ensure that their GIS system provides accurate, updated, traceable, and verifiable data at any time. As new construction is in progress, regular delivery of GIS allows the operator to make use of that information almost immediately. Our ability to deliver that data in a format that matches the client’s GIS format is even more valuable as it allows for direct entry into their GIS/Asset Management Systems. In this way, we are able to set ourselves apart in the industry, serving as partners with our clients, rather than simply filling a contractor role.
Using GIS for Pipeline Integrity Assessment (PIA)
GIS plays a key role in keeping pipeline operators aware of when assets need to be inspected and how often. This is because maintenance records, past inspections, photographs and other important details are all contained within the GIS. Using their GIS, an operator can instantly locate a piece of equipment or an asset that has been identified as a potential hazard and take appropriate measures to prevent costly accidents. Our Pipeline Integrity Assessment (PIA) division provides a number of services to our clients that involve the collection of GPS data. That data will eventually end up in the client’s GIS systems. We provide our clients with information regarding where repairs were made, what type of repair was performed, and the details pertaining to those repairs. This allows the client to not only keep track of their asset maintenance, but to also identify potential trends that could impact the operation of the pipeline system over its lifetime. Costly delays impact the bottom line of the operator, so anything that allows them to avert a shutdown is a positive influence. Adding GIS to our current deliverables allows our clients to take advantage of that crucial data well ahead of the current process. This allows them to make informed decisions regarding their assets and emphasizes the added value of having Applus+ as a business partner.
Other benefits of using GIS provided by Applus+
Another use for GIS is to generate Right-of-Way (ROW) Inspection and Encroachment Reports. The ability to spatially document ROW changes, vegetation infringements, and surface changes that happen over time are just a few examples of how GIS can track and compare data for a wide range of changes. ROW encroachments can be
documented and recorded including the precise type of encroachment, its exact location, and photos to help the operator to ensure safe operation of their pipeline system. GIS also assist with OneCall location request to easily and quickly identify if the dig location is within the operator’s ROW and if a location is required.
Allowing clients access to our Geographic Information System is an invaluable addition to the services we provide them. The GIS allows them to garner an overview status of any project that is scheduled, currently in progress, or that was performed in the past. They also have the ability to access our central repository to gather specific details on any aspect of the services we are providing them. This information furnishes them with the tools they need to run their businesses more efficiently.
Applus+’ use of GIS distinguishes us from our competition. As GIS grows in our industry, it will become more and more important that we continue to provide our clients with the information they need to conduct their business faster, smarter, and more informed than ever before.