Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Trimble helps gas utilities collect and control data

Steve Rogerson
July 28, 2016
California company Trimble can help natural gas utilities use data with its cloud-based GasOps integrated mobile asset data collector.
It aims to let natural gas distribution operators improve data quality, export collected data to systems of record and streamline regulatory reporting and compliance with US Department of Transportation Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) rules.
Through a web interface and mobile data collection app, GasOps allows utilities to reduce operational costs and data errors, standardise the field data collection process across multiple contractors and support regulatory reporting requirements with compliance data that are trackable, traceable and verifiable.
It operates on Android smart phones and tablets, and high-accuracy Trimble GNSS receivers, providing data collection flexibility based on regulatory or natural gas utility-specific location accuracy requirements. Location accuracy can be confirmed through real-time corrections via VRS network, single base station, SBas satellite-based augmentation system and Trimble RTX correction services. GasOps also has the capability to scan industry-based ASTM F2897 barcode standards quickly and auto-populate form fields, reducing user input errors that are inherent in paper-based data collection tasks.
"Whether it's their crews or contractors, natural gas utilities can now quickly and accurately capture field data for construction, inspection and maintenance activities, regardless of which organisation is performing the tasks or what Android mobile devices is being used," said Ben Mallen, business area director for Trimble Energy’s Americas division. "Trimble GasOps is the latest release in our suite of software applications designed to transform natural gas utility operations by integrating field and back office systems, along with automating workflows across the enterprise."
It uses a standard template library for data collection forms in support of common natural gas utility workflows such as pipe construction and pipe replacement, inspection, maintenance, fusion traceability, gas inspections, gas leak survey and meter changeout. These forms are configurable and deliver a number of business intelligence fields that include required and conditional fields, digital photos and signature capture.
In addition, a proximity function allows work to be completed when a field user is within a specific proximity to an asset. As a result, field workers can more efficiently perform tasks using predefined workflows and intuitive data entry forms that automatically associate to the asset.
Through the web interface, supervisors can organise field projects, manage people, select assets, create tasks and assign work to utility crews or contractors. Once data have been collected, supervisors can also view collected data, perform quality checks and edit data as needed. All data collected within Trimble GasOps can be exported via a number of common formats to update existing GIS systems and geodatabases.
GasOps can also simplify compliance reporting, allowing natural gas utilities to meet stringent regulatory requirements more easily with improved data tracking and traceability. The leak survey report shows proof of a leak inspection and is tied to actual GPS location and not a specific address.
This is the latest release in a suite of Trimble Energy products that address a broad range of smart utility operations, from planning, design and construction to operations and maintenance.