Telecommunications and pipeline automation and SCADA

Telecommunications and Pipeline Automation: How to Achieve Reliability on a Budget

One day in the future, artificial intelligence (AI) will be the backbone of pipeline operations technology to achieve telecommunications and pipeline automation efficiencies. That day is not here yet, but it is coming.

However, your goal remains the same: utilize SCADA and related technologic tools to automate and streamline pipeline operations and to accurately communicate with the field.

Until we are living in the reality of AI, consider this budget-friendly guide to help you install, operate, maintain, and enhance your available technology to achieve reliability.

Install: Mind the FAT Before Field Implementation!

In a recent episode of the Pipeliners Podcast, I had a conversation with EnerSys colleague Scott Williams about the importance of factory acceptance testing (FAT). This step is critical to the streamlined implementation of new processes, software, and hardware. A well-planned and executed FAT before field installation is vital to save costs.

Too often, pipeline operators trim the FAT to speed up implementation. This often results in added expenses that could have been avoided. The beauty of FAT testing is that you can test new functionality without the risk of upsetting your running system, and fixes are always easier to implement before field installation.

When trying to get new SCADA, telecommunications, and pipeline automation up and running, take your time and ask questions during the FAT. Use the conversation to capture details, then write a Site Execution Plan (SEP). This will prepare you for the installation and Site Acceptance Testing (SAT).

Ask yourself these questions: “Does the basic SCADA functionality do what it’s supposed to do? Is there anything here that will make our life difficult where it doesn’t need to be?” Once you get in the field and you start installing, it’s too late to address these important questions.

Operate: Train Your Control Room Staff to Achieve Efficiency

Lost in the excitement about new technology and automation processes is the human factor of controllers needing to interact with the SCADA solution. Without reliable processes that align with PHMSA control room management requirements and related industry best practices, you will likely allow wasteful activity in your operation.

At the stage of placing the SCADA, telecommunications, and pipeline automation into operation, be sure that your controllers are well trained on Control Room Management Plans (CRMP) and control room policies & procedures.

Training should also extend to regular dialogue to learn from each other and share lessons learned. Committing to continual learning will ensure that controllers are equipped to use new technology efficiently, helping save money in your operation.

Maintain: Stay on Top of the Latest Trends

Here’s how you can think about the important step of maintenance: what goes into winning a sports championship every year. When a team wins their first championship, the natural reaction is to do the same thing next year and the following year to achieve the same result.

Unfortunately, it does not work that way. Players get older, competitors improve, and the overall game continues to shift. Similarly, technology for SCADA and telecommunications moves from cutting-edge to yesterday’s news. Or, automation accelerates, giving competitors an advantage if you do not match their pace of continually improve systems.

The key to maintenance is knowing where to focus. Should the Super Bowl winner improve on offense or defense? Does the World Series winner need a new pitcher or first baseman?

If you do not keep up with the trends that affect telecommunications and pipeline automation internally (the status of your current technological resources) and externally (what competitors are using), you will not know where to allocate resources to remain compliant, competitive, operationally efficient, and cost-conscious.

Enhance: Decide on New Technological Tools

After assessing the status of your technology based on an internal and external review, you should decide whether it’s time to enhance your capabilities. Potential actions to take include:

  • Host refresher orientations, workshops, and training classes for controllers
  • Evaluate the reliability of communications tools in the field
  • Attend industry events to gather information about the latest trends
  • Incorporate the most current knowledge into your operation
  • Implement additional software capabilities to manage the change

An important event for liquid pipeline operators to attend and stay on top of technological trends is the 2018 API Pipeline and Cybernetics Symposium April 24-26 in St. Louis. During the Cybernetics portion of the conference, there will be a full discussion of telecommunications and pipeline automation moderated by Mark Dahl of Alyeska Pipeline.

I will be attending the conference and would like to connect with you in St. Louis. If you plan to attend, contact me at

Additionally, EnerSys is capable of implementing additional software capabilities to manage technological changes.

POEMS Software Achieves Reliability on Your Budget

EnerSys offers our POEMS software and services to enhance your capabilities throughout the process of implementing the latest telecommunications and pipeline automation technology.

Our company developed POEMS as a complete software solution for pipeline operators to confidently and safely operate a high-performance pipeline using the latest technology.

What sets POEMS apart is the combination of technology, consultation, facilitation, and education. Throughout the POEMS implementation process, EnerSys provides educational orientations, workshops, and training sessions to ensure understanding throughout the operation.

To schedule a POEMS demo or find out how we can help maximize your operation to save costs, please complete our contact form, email our team at, or call us directly at 281-598-7100.