This paper will discuss the objectives, challenges, and methods of implementing a system-wide pipeline automation project at Colonial Pipeline, focusing on the pilot project and early years. Currently the company is in the midst of a five-year project to automate and remotely operate delivery facilities, tank farms, and origination stations along over 5000 miles of existing pipeline. The end result will bring control of over 200 facilities into to the Central Control Center. Technically, the project goal is to install state of the art infrastructure to enhance safety and reliability, standardize to a common platform across the system, and integrate into an existing SCADA Control System. From the business perspective, the project goal is to meet or exceed typical industry guidelines for project management metrics, reach a unitized cost basis and provide a foundation for consistent and repeatable operations across the entire pipeline system. The Common Project Process (a cross-functional integrated project team strategy) and an engineering alliance are being used to define and execute the project phases. Colonial’s Engineering team recast itself in 1999 on the basis of establishing core competencies, leveraging internal talent and knowledge, and establishing an effective outsourcing strategy. This automation project is one of the first large-scale efforts to put this new model to task. In 2000, Colonial Pipeline and Mangan, Inc. formed an engineering alliance to capitalize on the strengths of both teams. Colonial’s pipeline engineering and operations knowledge have been equitably matched with Mangan’s project management, engineering and integration skills. The result is an energetic and committed technical project team, as well as a win-win opportunity for both sides. This alliance provides a valuable model for engineering team outsourcing and contracting. Except for original construction projects, it is rare for a pipeline company to take on a system-wide infrastructure upgrade opportunity of this scope. Success of the pilot project depended on integrating the field automation with SCADA system capabilities and developing both control center and human resources plans. The field hardware, the technical focus of this paper, is a small piece of the entire project objective; however it represents the foundation of the entire business model. Selecting and committing to a common controls platform was an engineering objective. The hardware had to provide a certain level of assurance that the standard model would be available both at the start and the end of the project, in addition to supporting legacy systems for future challenges. In summary, this automation project represents more than engineering and integration. It’s a combination of the talent, hardware, and vision which will accomplish the goal of the core business product — safe and efficient delivery of consumer fuels.
- Pipeline Division
A System-Wide Pipeline Automation Project: Application Colonial Pipeline System
Simmons, S, & Watson, R. "A System-Wide Pipeline Automation Project: Application Colonial Pipeline System." Proceedings of the 2002 4th International Pipeline Conference. 4th International Pipeline Conference, Parts A and B. Calgary, Alberta, Canada. September 29–October 3, 2002. pp. 935-945. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/IPC2002-27026
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