Pipeline Integrity and Efficiency: Costs are Worth It to Avoid Expenses

By the nature of its name and intent, the inaugural AMPP Annual Conference + Expo is full of all things new and critical for the industry—not just for now, but also for the future. That spirit certainly applied to Tuesday’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) panel discussion.

This particular panel is not new for the annual conference, and it has been a stalwart component that has proven instrumental in encouraging discussion and change while clearly looking toward the future.

Safety has always been of substantial interest for members and industry, of which the moderator, Kevin Garrity, Executive VicePresident of Technology at Mears, made clear. “We are so much better because of the regulations and regulatory regime under which we operate,” he said.

Amy Shenk, Director of Pipeline Integrity at Williams, spoke about her company’s journey toward “smart compliance through digital transformation.”

Williams “took a critical look at its pipeline safety management system (PSMS) program,” she said. “Safety and compliance is essential to our DOT-regulated pipeline systems. We implemented a ‘Plan, Do, Check, Act’ methodology of continuous improvement to all PSMS-related processes.”

With “tremendous buy-in by the entire Williams company, we changed our reporting culture around, with the number of reported near misses having gone up significantly, which lead to the number of incidents going down,” she said.

As well as building in a reward system for identifying and reporting near misses, the company is moving “completely away from paper and transforming how we do our business,” she said. “We are compliant, we know it,and we can show it.”

Shenk said that Williams’ aspirational goals for its digital business transformation for compliance include machine learning and having artificial intelligence applied to its reporting structure.

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