Have you considered how much the pipeline control room mimics the human body?
Specifically, our brain controls the ability to perform basic automated tasks, regulates blood flow to the rest of our body, and ensures that our body is capable of functioning to keep the entire body alive. Similarly, without a control room, the pipeline operation would cease to exist. And likewise, the control room consists of many systems to perform its function.
Yet, how often does it seem like upper management or the Finance department overlooks the control room when it comes to budgeting? Just like we often take the brain for granted, you might feel like no one fully understands or appreciates the importance of the control room.
When it’s time to submit your next annual operating budget, consider this plan to get more funding approved for your control room budget.
Utilize Your Staff to Leverage Advanced Technology
I recently wrote about the rapid growth of available technology for pipeline operators. Control room managers need to be able to leverage this technology in the control room to ensure the overall operation continues to grow and outperform competitors.
This often means hiring additional staff, adding seats to the control room. The “brain” needs to be able to enhance its capabilities, ensuring the operation can take advantage of new opportunities made available through technology.
Without additional staff, your control room may not be able to support the overall operation during this era of rapidly advancing technology. In your justification for more control room capability, stress the importance of additional staff to increase the analytical capabilities of your team to support the whole.
Fatigue Mitigation is Vital to Control Room Management
PHMSA is very focused on fatigue mitigation to ensure that pipeline operators reduce the risk of human error. (Be sure to review the 2016 PIPES Act.)
In addition to requesting additional staff to keep up with the workload presented by advanced technology, request additional staff to ensure the workload is evenly spread out, helping your overall pipeline operation remain compliant.
Compliance is also important for adhering to the CRM Rule by providing adequate vigilance time for controllers while at work, adequate time to respond to alarms, and sufficient rest time between shifts.
When drafting your annual operating budget, take inventory of the rest and recovery options available at the work site. Some control rooms have exercise machines or other equipment for controllers to utilize during breaks to stay alert for the remainder of their shift. If you need to add or upgrade on-site machines, be sure to stress the importance of complying with the latest PHMSA rules to receive additional funding for this equipment in your control room budget.
Are You Aware of Future Regulations?
It is time-consuming staying on top of the latest PHMSA rulings to know what to implement in the pipeline control room. To help control room managers, I recently recorded a podcast episode at PipelinersPodcast.com reporting on what was discussed during the most recent PHMSA Pipeline Advisory Committee meetings.
Use that episode as a guide to understand what regulations are being considered that could affect pipeline operators and control room managers. That will help you know what to budget for the future to ensure compliance in the control room.
If you know there is an area where you are deficient or can foresee a future issue, be sure to note the importance of preparing for upcoming PHMSA developments in your budget request.
Request Software Support in Your Control Room Budget
When drafting the control room budget, you may realize that you need a software solution to track the status of the brains of the operation. This includes your technology capabilities, control room staffing, fatigue mitigation, compliance needs, and adherence to regulations.
EnerSys offers the POEMS software product that includes a full suite of tools for control room managers. These tools and applications help pipeline operators adhere to the CRM rule and ensure operational efficiency.
Consider including our software solution in your annual operating budget request. If you would like a free demo of the software or have questions about how we help support control room managers, please complete our contact form, email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us directly at 281-598-7100.