Distributed Fiber optic sensing system is a unique tool for the evaluation of distributed temperature over several kilometers. It is a powerful diagnostic instrument for the identification and localization of potential problems, such as leakages in pipelines and dykes, hot-spots in high-voltage cables and other events that create temperature anomalies. Such distributed temperature sensing (DTS) systems have the advantage of being relatively easy to deploy over long pipeline sections and have been shown to detect leakages events with good accuracy and reliability. However, when distributed fiber optic sensing systems are deployed in security-critical applications, where availability and reliability are crucial, it is important to continuously verify and assess the correct functioning and reliability of the whole system, including the sensing cables, the measurement system, the data analysis software and the alert transmission. In the past, such testing have been performed periodically by the pipeline personnel, but testing frequencies are typically low, e.g. once per year. The DTS Automated Trip Testing System is a fully independent device that is able to produce a controlled and localized thermal anomaly (hot spot or cold spot) and verify its correct detection. This allows a continuous verification of the DTS system reliability and functionality and a periodic statistical evaluation of the confidence level (proven by experience SIL rating).
This paper will present more specifically the development, the functioning and deployment, and its applications of an automated system and method for testing the efficacy and reliability of distributed temperature sensing (DTS) systems, in particular those DTS systems used for pipeline leakage detection.