Big Data’s Powerful Role in Gas Pipe Safety

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Infrastructure is a major area of opportunity for big data, and it’s being explored more each year as opportunities to improve efficiency and safety present themselves. Smart grid systems are becoming more common as aging systems are upgraded, resulting in lower energy usage and savings. Gas pipelines, another important piece of our global energy infrastructure, are also being improved with big data—but unfortunately not all of them.

The “Pigs” That Clean Pipelines

Data collection in infrastructure relies on sensors, which can provide valuable information in many different contexts. Smart grid sensors detect what times of day demand more power, while sensors installed on “pigs” that clean pipelines offer insights that can improve safety and maintenance. The catch? These pigs, which look like cylindrical robots, can’t be used on all pipes worldwide. In fact, they can only be used on about a third of the world’s gas lines. That’s a shame, because pigs are a great way to use predictive analytics to ensure proper maintenance and cut costs for manufacturers.

Because keeping pipes in tip-top shape is an important safety issue, pipes that can’t be cleaned and monitored using pigs must be maintained using the old-fashioned methods of conservative prediction based on experience. …

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