This week’s Pipeliners Podcast episode features Scott Lewis and Gavin Duncan discussing pig tracking and signaling, LoRaWAN, and how the industry is improving these technologies every day.
In this episode, you will learn about the different types of pigging and why they are necessary, how LoRaWAN is useful in long distance tracking, and more efficient ways of pipeline communication.
LoRaWAN and Pig Signaling Show Notes, Links & Insider Terms:
- Scott Lewis is the Regional Manager Americas for Online Pipeline Solutions, Inc., IK Group. Connect with Scott on LinkedIn.
- Gavin Duncan is a Research And Development Manager with Online Electronics Ltd. Connect with Gavin on LinkedIn.
- Online Electronics Ltd. (OEL) range of products use a wide range of technologies to provide an innovative and flexible approach to pig locating, monitoring, and signaling, including ATEX-certified options through all of the stages of a pipeline.
- R&D stands for research and development
- SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) is a system of software and technology that allows pipeliners to control processes locally or at remote locations.
- Pig Tracking means monitoring the location in a liquid processing system of a pipeline pig
- Pig Signals are devices which detect the passage of a pig and then inform the operators about this passage at crucial points of the pipeline.
- Pipeline Right-of-Way is a strip of land encompassing buried pipelines and other natural gas equipment allowing them to be permanently located on public and/or private land to provide natural gas service.
- PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers) are programmable devices placed in the field that take action when certain conditions are met in a pipeline program.
- RTUs (Remote Telemetry Units) are electronic devices placed in the field. RTUs enable remote automation by communicating data back to the facility and taking specific action after receiving input from the facility.
- IoT (Internet of Things) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.
- LoRaWAN is a non-cellular LPWAN technology based on open design by Semtech.
- LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Networks) include LoRaWAN, MIOTY, LTE-M, NB-IoT, and others.
- LoRaWAN gateway uses location data that does not rely on GPS, making it an attractive option for location-dependent applications.
- Moore’s Law is an accepted observation in the semiconductor industry introduced by former Intel CEO Gordon Moore. According to the observation, the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubles every two years, leading to advanced technological improvements and innovation.
- Spread Spectrum Technology is a form of wireless communications in which the frequency of the transmitted signal is deliberately varied. This results in a much greater bandwidth than the signal would have if its frequency were not varied.
- ATEX generally refers to the hazard of explosive atmospheres occurring in the workplace due to the presence of flammable gasses or combustible dust mixed in air, which can give rise to the risk of explosion.
- AI (Artificial Intelligence) is intelligence demonstrated by machines in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans.
LoRaWAN and Pig Signaling Full Episode Transcript:
Russel Treat: Welcome to the Pipeliners Podcast, Episode 251, sponsored by Burns & McDonnell, delivering pipeline projects with an integrated construction and design mindset, connecting all the elements, design, procurement sequencing at the site.
Burns & McDonnell uses its vast knowledge, the latest technology, and an ownership commitment to safely deliver innovative quality projects. Burns & McDonnell is designed to build and keep it all connected. Learn more at burnsmcd.com.
Announcer: The Pipeliners Podcast, where professionals, Bubba geeks, and industry insiders share their knowledge and experience about technology, projects, and pipeline operations. Now your host, Russel Treat.
Russel: Thanks for listening to The Pipeliners Podcast. I appreciate you taking the time, and to show that appreciation, we give away a customized YETI tumbler to one listener every episode. This week, our winner is Edgar Morrow with Vopak. To learn how you can win this signature prize, stick around until the end of the episode.
This week, Scott Lewis and Gavin Duncan with Online Pipeline Solutions join us to talk about LoRaWAN and pig signaling. Scott, Gavin, welcome to The Pipeliners Podcast.
Scott Lewis: Thanks for having us.
Gavin Duncan: Yeah, thanks, Russel. I’ve been looking forward to this.
Russel: Me, too. Before we get going, maybe I could ask each of you guys to give us a little bit about your background and how you got into what you’re doing now. Maybe Gavin, if you’d go first.
Gavin: Yeah, thanks, Russel. My background is I’m a chartered electronic engineer. I’ve been in R&D and engineering all my career. Presently, I’m with Online Electronics, leading the R&D and innovation team. Previously, I have worked for Aker Kvaerner in Production Control Systems, Subsea.
I was Head of Technology in Expro doing innovation and the intervention, mostly subsea, but downhole as well. I’ve also been Director of Engineering for a small company called Nautronix. Now, we’re looking at new technologies and emerging markets with Online Electronics.
The managing director contacted me last year and said, “Are you up for a challenge?” I’m always up for a challenge. I think that the challenges that move Online Electronics further forward. It’s done really well in its past 25 years, but the challenge is to even make that better.
Russel: With any kind of electronics, people don’t realize just how fast that moves and what it takes to do that stuff. Cool. Scott, same question. Tell us a little bit about your background, and how you found yourself doing what you’re doing.
Scott: Like some of us who are in the industry, I’ve been in this business since 1980, in instrumentation and controls. I’ve been in measurements and controls for well over 20 some odd years of making flow meters, to pig signalers, to tracking systems. I have been with online electronics since 2013, leading the charge in the Americas. My particular charge is the sales and marketing efforts in the Americas.
Russel: I ran into you guys back towards the first of the year. We saw each other at a small pipeline and gas journal tech conference, and I walked over to your booth. Being the guy who’s a SCADA automation measurement guy, I started looking at what you’re doing.
I started asking a whole bunch of, I don’t know, people might call them stupid questions. I was like, “How does that work? I’m sorry, I don’t understand. Tell me again how that works.” After talking to you guys in more detail, I thought it would be very interesting to get you guys on and talk about what you’re doing with tech, specifically around pig tracking and how it’s unique or different.
Here’s a couple of things you’re doing that’s interesting. One is the way you’re locating the pig. Maybe we will start talking about that first. How do you guys act? What’s your technology? What’s your approach for locating a pig?
Scott: Generally, on shore we use electromagnetic transmitter systems, receiver systems to track and locate a pig in a pipeline. Those systems today will work off of fast Fourier transforms to minimize noise impact and other items that can interfere with accurately tracking or pinpointing a pig. That is a separate entity from a secondary aspect, which is pig signaling, which we also do.
There we utilize three different technologies. We have a device that utilizes magnets, which as you know, most maintenance pigs that go through a line are equipped with magnets. We can track the passage of those magnets by a three axis magnetometer that’s in the magnetometer or in the magnet detector.
We have ultrasonic active devices, which pulse a signal across any liquid filled line. As the pig passes through, it interrupts the send and receive system that we use in order to know that we’re making passage across the line. Missing a given number of pulses with that tells us that the pig has interrupted the signal and we’ve got pig passage.
We also use ultrasonic passive devices, which listen for the sound of the pig as the pig hits the weldments in the line and rubs up against the pipe wall. We use fast Fourier transforms to compare the background noise that’s typical in the line to a short-term noise level that’s in the line.
Then we can determine where the pig is, and when we’re in pig approach, and when we have pig passage.
Russel: The thing that was interesting to me and I’m, again, this is one of those podcasts where I understand the technology, but I don’t understand the application. Don’t have a lot of experience. Very little experience, if you will, in this application.
I want to ask some real basic definitions. What is the distinction between tracking and signaling?
Scott: Tracking is basically monitoring the pig as it moves through the line. Got started with the idea that when you stick a pig in the line, you’ve got to locate it to determine how you’re going to get it out. Technology over the years developed from say, acoustic pingers for subsea to electromagnetic transmitters.
The way that electromagnetic transmitter works is it pulses at a frequency sufficient to allow it to pass through the pipe wall, which the pipe wall itself is like a big shielded cable. If you’re operating at the wrong frequency, you will not be able to pick up the transit of the signal through the pipe wall.
Today, most of us have migrated to multi-frequency transmitters, which allows us to change the frequency of the transmitter depending on what the pipe wall is to get the most power under the output curve, so that we can get through heavy pipe walls with smaller transmitters.
A transmit signal on a pig looks like, if you can imagine, the length of a pig. In the very center of the pig, it’s a null spot. There is no transmit signal. It becomes a max peak at about a quarter of the way of the length of the transmitter, and then falls back to zero at the ends.
If the pig sticks, you can walk the line with a typical receiver. You’ll begin to pick up a signal, then you’ll pick up max, then you will pick up the null spot, then pick up max again, and then you can move backwards to where the null spot is and stand literally over the pig. That’s pig tracking.
Russel: What you’re talking about here in pig tracking is a way for somebody on the right-of-way to be able to find the pig specifically?
Scott: Yeah, exactly.
Russel: The pig is actually generating the signal?
Scott: The pig itself with the transmitter installed is actually generating the signal.
Russel: What’s interesting to me about this conversation, Scott, is that my background with pig tracking is using computerized pipeline modeling and tracking the pig that way. That’s why I asked the question. I want to make sure that my definition of tracking is not yours, and it’s not.
Russel: Then what is signaling?
Scott: Signaling is a stationary device, if you think of it that way, that is either permanently or semi-permanently mounted in order to detect the pig as it passes a given point. As I was referencing earlier, you’ve got different technologies that you can use.
These are typically tied into SCADA packages or to just a simple PLC these days to feed back to control systems, to allow them to sit in the control station and monitor it from distance away, to know you’ve got pig launch and that you’ve got pig receipt.
Sometimes locations along the way, just to allow pre-notice so that they can maneuver their valves in order to get it into the right tank as the product comes through the line.
Russel: Yeah. Again, because I know very little about this, but I’ve spent a lot of time walking up and down right-of-ways. I’ve seen lots of the old school kind of mechanical pig signals. What you guys are doing is it’s not intrusive, right? It just goes on the pipe wall.
Scott: That’s absolutely it. We don’t do any intrusive signalers at all. All of ours are non-intrusive. Years ago, we started looking at that as the way to go, because we believed that the total cost of ownership of installing something in the line where you have to go back in and do maintenance on an intrusive signaler, or replace that intrusive signaler, adds up so much over time for field techs that to put a non-intrusive signal on the line was actually better from a cost perspective. Also today, especially with all the new environmental focus, no penetrations, no greenhouse gas emission reporting, no potential to…
Russel: No future manage on the pipeline.
Scott: Right. No leaks that you have to worry about.
Scott: Yeah. Especially now with hydrogen adding into the mix, absolutely no penetrations allowed, no potential for leaks. Especially on even the older natural gas lines where people believe they’re going to be mixing in say 15 percent hydrogen into the natural gas for transport, that’s going to make some significant changes in what they’re capable or allowed to do from a safety perspective.
Russel: I’ve done several podcasts on hydrogen. The point you’re making is that the hydrogen atom is small means it can get through smaller openings and cause a leak.
Scott: Yeah, exactly.
Russel: There’s a lot…
Russel: …pipelines where the methane can’t make it through. The minute we put hydrogen in there, then hydrogen might.
Russel: I want to transition because this is really what kind of compelled me to come to your booth and talk. That is you had some displays and materials on LoRa. I’m like, “What the heck is LoRa?” Being a SCADA and telecoms guy, comms, protocols, and all that’s changing all the time.
It’s lightning fast. You have to live in it every day to stay current. I’m like, “What the heck is LoRa? What is LoRa, and why does it matter in this application?”
Gavin: Yeah LoRaWAN, it’s a specification of a low power wide area networking protocol. It’s designed to wirelessly connect battery things to the Internet. You’ve heard of the Internet of Things. That’s basically what it is. It is looking at bidirectional comms, end to end security, and mobility and localization services.
The key to it is it’s got long range, low power, enabling long battery life. It’s 10 to 15 years battery life, depending on what sensor you use. It’s affordable, it’s large, and it’s got a huge ecosystem in the world so you can connect to a gateway. Basically, it’s a specification that is accepted across the world.
If you have a LoRaWAN device, it can connect to a gateway because LoRaWAN is a certified protocol.
Russel: This protocol is addressing both the radio signal, the data packages, and the security of those data packages, right?
Russel: I want to unpack a little bit, Gavin, what you’re talking about around gateway. Can you give me an example of a – I’m going to have trouble even saying this – a LoRa…
Russel: LoRaWAN. That’s OK. Very good. Now I got the tongue working.
Gavin: Go for it.
Russel: Yeah. A LoRaWAN gateway because what I tend to think of when I first heard this, what I was doing is mentally conflating it with the cellular networks. This is not really the same thing, right?
Gavin: No. If you think about your Internet in your house and you’ve got a router in your house for the Internet, a gateway is basically an intelligent router that can take in all the sensors and it will then send the data up to the server. The server can be on premise or it could be in the cloud.
That then distributes to the data collecting device, which can be Internet, or it can be SCADA, or wherever you are. The thing is that thousands of devices can go through one gateway. It was designed mainly for cities, buildings. You have lots and lots of sensors like temperature…
Russel: Securities, doors…
Russel: …All that, etc.
Gavin: It was designed for very small packets of data infrequently. If something changes. If an alarm goes off or something like that. It’s got a very good range because of the technology.
Russel: There’s no transmit key up, unless there’s data to send?
Gavin: There’s an end-to-end security on it. You can set it up. It’s mainly set up for exception processing. Which means if something changes. It’s not meant for lots and lots of data downloads and things like that.
Russel: It’s interesting, right? Because if you tried to use this LoRaWAN in a typical SCADA application, you’re going to run the batteries down in a hurry, because it’s not designed for frequent comms.
Gavin: No, it’s not.
Russel: Although I know there are some instruments that have more batteries and can go quite some time, even with persistent communications. In particular, in cases where you have very infrequent data like pig signaling, it makes a huge amount of sense.
Because I’ve got a very low cost for installation and then the data just goes back to where it goes back.
Gavin: Online chose LoRaWAN because of the superior features of the low battery usage and basically the long range. The long range is due to its spread spectrum technology. The spread spectrum technology is down to the, if you think about a military application, you want to be able to have that frequency and nobody can get into that radio communications.
That’s where spread spectrum came from the military, and you’re spreading that signal across the bandwidth, below the noise. Then the issue there is that it’s much more resilient to interference and it then can go further.
Then the processing of that signal, you can then get that data out of that signal out of the noise. That’s how you get that long-distance capability of the technology.
Russel: At what kind of distance are we talking about with LoRaWAN?
Gavin: Line of sight is roughly about 16 kilometers. In the cityscape, you’re probably looking at three to five kilometers. You’ll get signals down in the subway. You’ll get signals through concrete, etc., because of the technology that it’s using.
Russel: Yeah, the frequency you’re operating in will go through things, versus…
Gavin: There’s a bit of that, but it’s more to do with you’re spreading the message across the frequency bandwidth, so certain frequencies will get through, others won’t. Only if a little bit gets through, it can reconstitute the message by using the coding key at the end to then make sure that it’s there.
If you think of the phonetic alphabet, F for foxtrot. If you’re sending F, you could miss F, but you send foxtrot. Even if you get trot or ot or fox, you can reconstitute that message and get most of it back. That’s the resilience of the spread spectrum technology.
Russel: I got to tell you that I know enough about this kind of stuff to, I really want to rip the covers back and go deep into what you’re talking about, because I find this stuff really fascinating. I’m just that kind of geek.
Gavin: In a past life, I worked for Nautronix, and Nautronix did underwater communications, acoustics. Spread spectrum was actually designed for texting between submarines.
Russel: It originated in World War II as a way to encode, but it’s found a lot of other applications, for sure. When you start talking about protocols and how you reconstitute a partial message and all that kind of stuff, I have spent more time than I care to admit in the past life sitting in front of a scope and reading hex, so I’m right there with you.
Gavin: Those were the days.
Russel: Yeah. Those were the days. See, I knew you were my kind of geek.
Gavin: I basically studied electronics. I graduated in 1988, and so I’ve been doing it for 34 years.
Russel: I graduated in civil engineering, but in 19…what would have been the timeframe? ’93, I was doing a lot of deep diagnostics and understanding of radio networks and making sure we had a good enough signal to carry data.
There’s a very fascinating conversation because there’s a very strong correlation between the nature of the signal and the nature of the data, and how well it’s carried. That’s where the deep in the guts engineering occurs, around that kind of thing.
Gavin: The beauty of LoRaWAN is that it’s accepted worldwide now. It’s called the LoRaWAN Alliance. It’s a certified protocol, and everyone is using it. The oil and gas industry, they’re adopting it. Chevron has recently been working on it as well.
The beauty of it is that even for ATEX and zoned hazardous areas, you can stay out of the area because it’s a long distance, or you can go into the area because there are certified products now because they’re low power. If you’ve got low energy, you can certify a product for the hazardous area. A lot of our products are all certified for hazardous areas.
Russel: If you’re putting a product in a hazardous area, and it’s fully sealed, and low power, it makes it a whole lot easier to get through the certifications, and then operate and maintain that in a hazardous area. There’s a very strong economic justification around that, I would think.
Gavin: A lot of our products are, like Scott said, certified for hazardous areas and certified to C Gas Group for hydrogen as well going forward. We’re looking to go into new markets. We’re looking to exploit the technology and the development that we’ve done in our product line.
Russel: I guess one of the follow-up questions I have here about all of this is, it makes a lot of sense to me why this makes sense for something like pig signaling, fairly easy to install, low cost, non-intrusive.
I could put a gateway in at the site, and I could be reading 8 to 10 miles down the pipeline, all the signals that I want to put in place. I can put a fairly high concentration of those things to check launch and arrival. What other kinds of instrumentation makes sense for this?
Gavin: Scott, do you want to take on that one?
Scott: Yeah. Basically what we’ve considered over the last few years is anywhere where you’re not really near, and actually one of the suggestions came from you, was really anywhere not near a SCADA as we also have SCADA communication, Modbus, and all that wonderful kind of capability built in.
For pipelines and pipeliners, what we are considering is multi-sensor platforms where not only would it be a pig signaler, but it could also pick up, say, wind direction, it could pick up vibration sensors, it could pick up…
Russel: Intrusion detector.
Scott: …intrusions. Yeah. Methane leak, hydrogen leak, or something detector signals for alarms. We have all that capability to transmit that signal back to the gateway that’s, as you would say, 90, 95 percent of the time it’s sitting there waiting for a pig. It’s just sitting there waiting to do something else.
You can feed that data back in, shoot that out to the gateway, utilize, and basically multiply the impact of that gateway, which as Gavin said, could take literally thousands of sensors on its own, and we can transmit lots and lots of alarm conditions simultaneously from the middle of nowhere.
Whether that’s satellite or whether that’s just daisy chaining the gateways, which is now a capability that LoRaWAN is offering, or the LoRa Alliance is providing, or whether that’s feeding it back to a local SCADA somewhere down the line.
Russel: I’ve had this conversation and this is notional. I haven’t actually sat and worked out a business case, but I think that there’s the kind of the mission-critical operate the pipeline data: pressures, pump statuses, flow control valves, and all of that that needs to be in a high-availability, high-reliability system.
Then there’s a whole lot of other information that’s useful but not critical – weather information, ground temperature, intrusion detection, etc., that I may or may not want to even bring into the control center. I might want to feed that to somebody else.
It starts creating this really interesting conversation about data and how you manage data, versus data you need to operate the pipeline itself. One of the challenges in any control center is giving them the data they need, the way they need it, when they need it, and not pushing a whole bunch of data to them and overloading.
Gavin: Data management is key on this. If you look at the exception processing capabilities, now you’ve got Edge processing. If you have that intelligent sensor sitting on the pipe and just listening if something changes.
Scott was talking about our DSP capabilities with our fast Fourier transforms. We look across a bit of frequencies and at the moment we know what frequencies to look at for a pig coming up, passing, or something else.
That doesn’t stop us from looking for something else. There’s equilibrium in pipelines, and we can then sense that. Then if something changes, we just need to know what that change means. It’s a bit like machine learning.
We could go into AI and things like that, pattern recognition, but it’s as simple as there’s a change. What does that change mean? If you have that processing in the actual sensor that can work out what that change means, then that’s giving you the low data alarm with a lot of confidence and probability that it’s found what you’re looking for.
Russel: Gavin, again, that’s a great tee up, because the question I was going to ask is what’s the future for this kind of technology, and that’s where you’re going. One of the questions I have about edge devices in particular is they are comparatively power hungry. While they do have a broader environmental spec than like a PC.
It’s been a while so my data may not be current, but I’m not aware of div classified edge devices yet. It raises an interesting question. How much processing can you actually do before you lose the value of being able to have an onboard battery carrier for 7 to 10 years.
Gavin: Definition of edge processing is processing the data to give you information to transmit. What you’re thinking of is an edge processor, like a sort of six-foot cabinet, bang, all this sort of stuff.
We do fast Furior transforms on a microcontroller with very low power, very low quiescent current. There’s no processors, and Scott said it at the start, mobile phones. You have processors and mobile phones that do cameras, Bluetooth, all that processing.
Russel: Oh yeah. Super low power. Super small.
Gavin: Yeah. That’s an edge processor. That’s edge processing. We use processors similar to that in our sensors. The actual capability of the processing now, you know Moore’s Law, which basically processing power doubles every so often.
We are way onto that now. We could tell you something, but that mobile phone can do more than a Cray computer 10 years ago.
Russel: I remember I thought I was a hot shot in 1986 because I had a Compaq 386, a data collection set, and a toolbox. Now all that weighed about 300 pounds but I thought I was a hot shot. Now, you can do so much more than what I could do with that, just with your dagum phone.
Gavin: Absolutely. Yeah.
Russel: No, you make a good point and I certainly think there’s a lot of opportunity to look at, particularly ultrasonic kinds of signals around pipelines, and understand what’s going on in terms of flow, intrusion, process upset, etc.
Being able to do that with a larger number of low-cost non-intrusive sensors. It’s a load of opportunity to improve pipeline operations effectiveness with that kind of tech. That’s why I wanted to get you guys on and have you talk about what you’re doing, because it’s really cool.
Gavin: With a LoRaWAN as well, that allows the connectivity. You’ve heard of IOT 4.0 digitalization, all these buzzwords. Basically, if you had a number of sensors, if you had one sensor looking at pressure, one sensor temperature, one sensor doing something else, each of those sensors gives you information.
When you fuse that information together, sensor fusion, you then be able to then predict even more because you’re possibly looking at pattern recognition, you’re possibly looking at some sort of trending and things like that.
The idea then is that if you can have that connectivity with LoRaWAN or any other coms, then you can then have a host processor back at SCADA, or in the cloud on the server manipulate that data…
Russel: Or you could put a more robust edge device right behind the gateway.
Gavin: Yeah, absolutely.
Russel: Because the gateway is probably going to have power.
Gavin: Yes. That’s true. Yeah.
Russel: Then that starts to raise a whole bunch of really interesting questions about the data management. What are you doing on the sensor? What are you sending back? You’re probably not sending back all the data. You’re probably sending back key data and metadata to go with it, and understanding all of that.
There’s a lot going on in that domain. Anyways, I’m waxing philosophic here, but I just find this whole subject fascinating. Because there is a ton of opportunity in this tech and in what you guys are doing.
Gavin: We’ve just signed an NDA with an AI company just to look at the possibilities of what we’re trying to do here.
Scott: Yeah, I think too. It’s not only the fact that you can get more information and you can take these pieces together, but it’s also because of the low power and the way you transmit that we’re going to be able to put sensors in places that people on the pipeline have never had the ability to do, because they will be out in the middle of nowhere, but we won’t be requiring big solar charger systems to keep big battery packs charged and dealing with all of that mess. We’ll be having, you can imagine, to me it’s like if you thought there was an issue in some area, you could literally fly a drone out there and drop sensors temporarily into an area to see what’s going on.
Russel: The minute you can start laying a sensor on the ground in the right-of-way and understanding what’s going on in the pipe, there’s a lot of application there too, for sure.
Scott: Absolutely. If you begin to pick up a lot of vibration in an area, maybe you then go out there and you drop a few of these little sensors out in the given area to see if it’s somebody driving up there with a CAT that isn’t supposed to, or somebody drilling in the line that isn’t supposed to be, or something like that.
It’d be a very quick and easy response and link back up to a gateway and boom, you now have a lot more information than you ever had.
Russel: Yeah. Absolutely. Look, I’m going to ask a wrap-up question here. I’d like to get you guys’ take on this. What do you think every pipeliner ought to take away from this conversation?
Scott: Gavin, you want to go first?
Gavin: Thanks, Scott. I think that you shouldn’t be restricted by what you know. In my career I’ve always looked at technology transfer. We put mobile phone technology subsea for acoustics. I’ve looked at nuclear technology.
I did a tour of all the nuclear labs in the US one year just to look at the technology and see how we could transfer that to oil and gas. It’s really important that people keep an open mind and think about what are your challenges. Come to us with your challenges. If we can solve them, we’ll do our very best to do that.
Scott: A corollary. There was a line that’s been used and off quoted for the life of me at the moment, I can’t remember the lady’s name. She worked at NASA on some of the first computers. One of her comments was “we’ve always done it this way is the worst thing that you can ever hear,” paraphrased there, because as Gavin was saying, there’s new capabilities. There’s things that we haven’t thought of yet. There’s, as you were saying, marrying these sensors, putting them in places where we never thought we could, gathering information that we never thought we could.
As you said, I’ve been in this business for a long time, since 1980. Technology has really, really changed. I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with it and to see it happen. The opportunities to do things are there. Those companies that are looking at where technology’s going, where the pipeline’s going, what are they going to need to know that they don’t even know they need to know yet?
Those are the kind of things that provide the challenges and make life interesting. Frankly, when it’s just getting requests for bids in, and it’s something we already have, it’s like, “Yeah, we can knock those out.” Where it really gets my blood going and Gavin’s blood going is, “Here’s something that we don’t do now. How can we do it?”
Russel: Yeah, my take to the answer to that question would be what all pipeliners need to know is that this technology exists, and basically, what its capabilities are. That’s what opens up the mind to, “Well, huh, I wonder if it would work for this,” right?
Russel: To me, it’s like, I think that there’s a need for awareness, because this is, particularly the communications part’s pretty radically different than what we’ve historically done. I know there’s a lot of companies out there that are looking at this stuff and even using it, and lots of applications for it.
When you start combining this communications technology with this, I don’t know how to frame the instrumentation, but low power, totally sealed, strap-on-the-pipe kind of instruments, there’s a lot of opportunity there. There’s a lot of opportunity.
Gentlemen, thank you very much. I appreciate your time. This has been awesome. I’ve learned a few things, and I want to go play in Gavin’s lab.
Scott: Thank you for having us. We really appreciate the opportunity.
Gavin: Next time you’re in Scotland, drop in. Come on and see what we do. I’d look forward to that. Thanks very much, Russel. It’s been fun. Cheers.
Russel: I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode of The Pipeliners Podcast and our conversation with Scott and Gavin. Just a reminder before you go. You should register to win our customized Pipeliners Podcast YETI tumbler. Simply visit PipelinePodcastNetwork.com/Win and enter yourself in the drawing. You can find instructions at PipelinePodcastNetwork.com.
Russel: If you have ideas, questions, or topics you’d be interested in, please let me know, either on the Contact Us page at PipelinePodcastNetwork.com or reach out to me directly on LinkedIn. Thanks for listening. I’ll talk to you next week.
Transcription by CastingWords