Whether it takes a few hours or an entire day, we recommend that pipeline control room managers sit down at the end of 2019 or beginning of 2020 to evaluate your control room management goals for the new year.
Why is this important? One of the lessons that we heard repeatedly in 2019 is the importance of setting benchmarks. And, recording your progression to and through each benchmark.
A great example is Pipeline SMS. Pipeline operators are being encouraged to mark their progress on the journey to implementing Pipeline Safety Management Systems — not just for your own safety purposes, but also to support the industry’s journey to reach zero safety incidents.
In the spirit of Pipeline SMS, we recommend that pipeline control room managers take time to outline your control room management goals for 2020, identify the benchmarks along the journey to achieving your goals, and capture who should be held accountable for helping your control room reach the goals by the end of the year.
By setting a starting point at the beginning of 2020, you can track progress throughout the year, gather feedback on progress at set intervals during the year, and then perform a year-end review and evaluation of whether you were successful in achieving your goals for the year.
What Control Room Goals Should You Set?
We recognize that every pipeline control room is at a different point on the journey. To put some color to this concept of benchmarking your goals for 2020, we generalized three critical areas of control room management that could help you set specific goals for your control room.
- Alarm Management
- Audit Preparation
- Mega Rule Alignment
1. Alarm Management Goals
Many pipeline control room managers have advanced from alarm rationalization to a comprehensive Alarm Management program. However, it may be time to review the alarm rationalization process.
Here’s a question to ask: is it time to re-rationalize alarms in 2020 so that controllers are not inundated with noise?
To understand whether this might apply to your control room, review the 2019 data. Ask some questions:
- Do controllers have ample time to identify and respond to Abnormal Operating Conditions (AOCs)?
- Is the alarm rationalization immediately available to the controller upon alarm annunciation?
- Does the alarm rationalization describe the AOCs associated with the alarm?
- Do controllers demonstrate an understanding of the AOCs presented to them?
- Are the same AOCs occurring repeatedly, creating noise for controllers?
- Are the AOCs being accurately recorded in the SCADA system?
Use the data to dive into these questions to gain an understanding of whether you need to re-rationalize the alarms to reduce alarm flood, create clearer understanding of AOCs, and ensure proper recordkeeping.
2. Audit Preparation Goals
We are already hearing information that PHMSA is planning an initiative to audit pipeline control rooms in 2020. Even if you have recently been audited, you can expect to receive an audit notice.
The goal is to reinspect every pipeline control room in the PHMSA database within the next three years. For some operations, that inspection could take place in early 2020; for others, it could be a few years down the road.
In anticipation of a possible audit, a goal that you could set for your control room is reviewing the Control Room Management Plan (CRMP). We recommend asking these questions to determine whether you need to set this as a goal for 2020:
- When was the last time we updated the CRMP?
- Is anything in the CRMP misaligned with the PHMSA CRM Rule?
- Are control room personnel following the CRMP?
- Are we validating activity with proper recordkeeping?
- Can records supporting activity be easily and quickly located?
- Can we account for deviations from the CRMP (e.g. Hours of Service deviations)?
Take time to review these questions and evaluate whether your control room is prepared for an audit.
If you determine that you need to take steps to be better prepared for a possible PHMSA audit, then assign your control room a score at the beginning of the year. Then, outline what steps need to be taken in 2020 to improve your score. Set benchmarks to evaluate whether the score is improving. Then, at the end of 2020, evaluate how much your score improved to evaluate progress.
– On Episode #103 of the Pipeliners Podcast released in November, I discussed the latest PHMSA audit developments with control room expert Charles Alday. I recommend that you listen to the episode, especially the tail-end of the discussion, for more insight on the audit preparation process.
3. Mega Rule Alignment Goals
In October 2019, PHMSA released Part 1 of the Mega Rule outlining extensive pipeline safety measures for more than 500,000 miles of pipeline running across the United States.
This means that PHMSA is bringing additional pipeline assets under federal jurisdiction in order to perform safety and compliance reviews.
The goal for pipeline control room managers in 2020 is to evaluate whether your control room will be impacted by the Mega Rule. And, if so, evaluate to what extent your control room will be affected.
To evaluate the extent of the Mega Rule affecting your control room, ask these questions:
- How many additional miles of pipeline are affected?
- What is the size of each affected asset?
- Where are the affected pipelines located (High-Consequence Areas, etc.)?
- What is the operating pressure of the affected pipeline assets?
Your goal should be to create a report that captures detailed information about your affected pipeline assets. This way, you can start the process of evaluating how to bring these assets into compliance with the PHMSA CRM Rule.
We understand that it’s a significant process. Set goals for your control room to methodically make your way through this process so that you can set a starting point and mark progress along the way.
Work With EnerSys to Support Your 2020 Control Room Goals
Whether your control room management goals are focused on Alarm Management, Audit preparation, Mega Rule alignment, or another goal, we can help you along the path.
Talk to our team about setting goals that are clear, measurable, and recordable so that you can measure progress at the end of 2020 and beyond. We would appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with your team.