In the current era of IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things), advanced technology is readily available to enhance communications for pipeline operators and midstream companies. However, there are roadblocks to deploying the technology.
Fortunately, the collective efforts of ENTELEC members can help solve some of the communication challenges that are embedded in the pipeline technology trends of 2018.
Three Trends That Require Collaborative Thinking
ENTELEC believes in the power of collaboration to solve real challenges that help real companies grow in their capabilities. Consider how working together can enhance your company’s ability to capitalize on this year’s most important communication trends.
Trend #1: Rural Communication is Growing
Communication to and from rural locations is vital for pipeliners and midstream companies. Unfortunately, many companies are still relying on landlines that were installed decades ago and require access to a small local provider. In this scenario, it’s a nightmare trying to get network connectivity to remote locations.
Operators need to find ways to tap into infrastructure to bypass landlines and use advanced technology to collect valuable data in real-time.
Fortunately, the federal government is funding a program to enhance rural communication. The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development) launched the Community Connect program to “help fund broadband deployment into rural communities where it is not yet economically viable for private sector providers to deliver service.”
The deadline to submit an application for the grant expired on May 14. However, if your company missed the deadline, you can take solace in the fact that there is clear momentum for a robust rural communication infrastructure.
This momentum also points to companies soon having the capability to come together to tap into technology without having to rely on major network carriers.
Trend #2: Private Infrastructure is Growing
Think about how major cellphone carriers try to market themselves to consumers. Don’t they try to distinguish themselves by highlighting their coverage map? Sure, these carriers cover enough of a massive state such as Texas to make it seem like they cover the entire state, but if you were to zoom in closely on the coverage map, you would see little coverage in rural areas.
As the Community Connect program points out, it has not yet become economically viable for major phone carriers to build connectivity in select rural areas, which is precisely where pipeliners and midstream companies need enhanced connectivity.
However, advanced technology for communication is making it possible for companies to get together to build a private infrastructure, bypassing the major carriers. It’s not reasonable to wait for carriers to decide when they can justify the cost of building infrastructure when you need to collect valuable data from rural locations right now.
What’s the solution? Companies with a vested interest in rural communication need to come together to collaborate and leverage technology capabilities to build a private infrastructure and work with regulatory bodies. Fortunately, ENTELEC is the forum to make this happen because of our commitment to shared learning to advance our respective industries forward.
Trend #3: Redundancy Capabilities are Growing
The underlying reasons why operators and midstream companies need access to data from remote locations is to enhance reliability, operate safely and efficiently, and to remain compliant.
To achieve these objectives, companies need enhanced redundancy capabilities to increase the reliability of their communication systems.
One of the growing pipeline technology trends is building more redundancy into SCADA systems to ensure that a company can remain operable in abnormal operating conditions.
Within the infrastructure of your SCADA system, it’s critical to have robust communications from your network. That’s why access to data is valuable to ensure that companies can build a practical plan of action beforehand and then make informed decisions in real-time.
The solution to take advantage of growing redundancy capabilities is companies working together to ensure connectivity. Essentially, communications connectivity is a bridge that must be built; otherwise companies cannot take full advantage of available technology.
Be Part of the Solution
Right now, a significant issue facing our members is building infrastructure for pipeline communication.
The technology is available. The data is ready to be collected. However, the infrastructure is not yet built. Together, we can work together to solve this challenge.