Énergir, the main natural gas distribution company in Québec, operates an underground pipeline system of approximately 11,000 km within the province to serve more than 300 municipalities. It also has a strong presence in Vermont (USA). Énergir not only develops and runs innovative energy projects, but also maintains its existing pipeline network.

THE CHALLENGE

It is in the area of maintenance programs that Énergir’s engineering group was looking for improvements to increase its overall operational efficiency. Since the processes related to land vehicle and foot patrols were mainly manual, leak detection and follow-up work was essentially based on paper maps that had to be printed for each trip. These maps were then plotted with a marker to indicate work progress. Moreover, field teams had to be sent out several times, as required by the various programmes each of which followed its own set of parameters. As a result, the engineering team wound up wasting a lot of time. To make matters worse, this “paper dependence” forced them to divide territories based on zip/postal codes and prevented them from combining inspection programs that could be conducted simultaneously. This, in turn, added to costs associated with travel and equipment use.

For all these reasons, the Énergir team was looking for a solution that would allow it to completely eliminate the use of paper, optimize patrol routes and enable the monitoring of work progress in real-time. It also wanted to implement computer tools, including web mapping and validation scripts, to help technicians ensure that the patrolled lines are within a tolerance threshold.

Having already tested Consortech’s expertise in FME technology, Énergir entrusted us with this challenging and state-of-the-art project.

HOW WE HELPED

On reviewing Énergir’s expectations, we realized immediately that this project is likely to harness the full potential of their GIS infrastructure. Given our in-depth experience in this field, we preferred to first carry out a proof of concept to test the reliability of spatial analysis in the Web mapping application due to the scope of the project. This approach eventually proved to be very useful as it allowed us to adjust our execution strategy based on the evolution of the tracker technology from “Collector for ArcGIS” to “Tracker for ArcGIS” (a brand new application that had not yet been tested in the field).

Our final solution included the following components which were all deployed on the FME Server:

  • An FME Workspace to analyze patrols as well as validate results, based on a predefined schedule
  • An FME Workspace to perform additional validation on the pipelines
  • Two FME Workspaces to process the leak detection data collected in the field, which are executed while the data is being stored in a network directory
  • An FME Workspace to report on the kilometers traveled for each collection zone (executed every evening)

We completed this project in six months, from the development of the proof of concept to the deployment of the solution in the client environment.

THE VALUE WE PROVIDED

Thanks to the success of the project, Énergir is now able to streamline its leak detection activities, eliminate the time lost on producing paper maps, and provide precise instructions to technicians for efficient patrolling. In addition, as there is no longer any need to define work based on postal codes, Énergir is also able to plan simultaneous inspection programs, reduce travel and optimize equipment use. The new tools we implemented has greatly helped its team in monitoring programs in real time with the help of new dashboards which facilitate quick and informed decision-making.

All these improvements have provided Énergir significant savings in time and money, while ensuring an ROI of less than a year!

 

This project has enabled us to optimize significantly the management of our gas pipeline inspection programs. Consortech’s expertise and professionalism were strong factors that helped us achieve our goals. They led us to take full advantage of our GIS technology. We are very pleased with Consortech’s contribution as they have really proved to be a valuable partner for the success of our project.

Gaétan Dessureault

Project Manager, Énergir

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