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Customer Story

The PI System helps Plains Midstream Canada make the most of operational intelligence

Oil pipes at facility
  • Challenge
    Siloed data in unintegrated systems with no context and standardization
  • Solutions
    Use the PI System to create a single, centralized system with a unified Asset Framework structure
  • Benefits
    More than $2 million in cost savings from increased operational oversight and accountability

Increased demand for oil and natural gas meant business was good for Plains Midstream Canada, which provides oil and gas transportation and storage throughout Canada and the United States. The company completed more than 30 asset acquisitions between 2001 and 2017, each with its own technical infrastructure. But by 2017, Plains Midstream was struggling to maintain any sense of consistency across these assets. It was also facing the challenges that come with siloed data across multiple PI System servers and digital monitoring systems. The company worked with iSolutions to build a standardized data model using Asset Framework (AF) within a centralized, enterprise-level PI System. Today, the solution ensures that data visualizations and reports are consistent and accessible to everyone across the organization. The data-transformation project led to more than $2 million in cost savings as operations were streamlined and redundancies were eliminated.

We used to get phone calls from facilities asking, ‘How is this plant operating?’ Well, now we can show them. They can go into PI Vision and see it in real time.
Scott Klassen
Operational Service Delivery Manager, Plains Midstream Canada

Getting organized and getting to work

Plains Midstream Canada previously used its PI System servers primarily as data historians without the benefit of AF, the contextualization layer of the PI System. The different asset structures made integrating data difficult. Plains Midstream wanted to channel the monitoring and notifications that management at the different facilities use through the same enterprise-wide data model. The company also needed consistency among reports and dashboards that were delivered to clients and users.

Plains Midstream’s partner iSolutions helped it figure out the best way to structure AF to create a digital twin of all operations. “The look and feel is now the same across all the NGL facilities where we’ve deployed,” said Dapo Badmus, principal consultant at iSolutions.

Once the data was properly organized and contextualized, Plains Midstream was ready to use the power of centralized data to solve other business challenges, like reducing or eliminating manual data collection. For example, operations managers need to track new products every time the products arrive at a facility. Before the data-centralization project, this work was painstaking.

“It involved several hours of taking a spreadsheet dump out of the distributed control system, then doing manual calculations within that spreadsheet,” said Scott Klassen, an operations services manager at Plains Midstream Canada. Only after all these calculations were done would workers at the facility know what product had come in.

Now, Plains Midstream uses the PI System to monitor specific process events in incoming product. “When a valve opens, [the PI System] tracks all the temperature, pressures, and volumes of what’s coming in,” Klassen said. “As soon as the valve closes, it does the calculation automatically and sends a report to the users.”

Having this automatic analysis also allows Plains Midstream to ensure that they’re getting exactly what the shipper claims it’s sending. “If a product doesn’t meet a certain spec, it’s worth a different amount of money,” Klassen said. Using the PI System to track and monitor incoming product has already saved Plains Midstream more than $2 million in operating expenses.

Plains Midstream dashboardsThe PI System allows engineers to move intuitively from facility overviews to color-coded screens, tracking KPIs for specific plants and pieces of equipment.

One version of the truth that’s available to everyone

The PI System also helped streamline decision-making by providing intuitive, real-time asset and data visualization in PI Vision. Users can click on a map to drill down for more information about the processes in a particular facility. Operators and engineers track KPIs using color-coded dashboards to show whether a process is within minimum and maximum targets. The PI System allows anyone in the company to access these dashboards and track the same KPIs along with the operators, reducing the time spent generating reports and providing manual updates to leadership.

“Previously it was phone calls, it was email,” Klassen said. “Now, it’s much easier and much simpler for anybody to get access.” It used to take engineers hours every morning to generate daily production reports, he added; now, the PI System automatically generates reports and delivers them to employees’ inboxes.

The PI System’s integration with Microsoft Power BI allows for more sophisticated analysis and reporting through front-end dashboards. The PI System also helps reduce the number of operational reruns by integrating lab data with real-time production data. Anyone in the organization can see how any asset or location is performing at any time.

“We used to get phone calls from facilities asking, ‘How is the plant operating?’ Well, now we can show them,” Klassen said. “They can go into PI Vision, and they can see that in real time. And if they want more information, well, they can get more information. We can build more dashboards.”

For more information about Plains Midstream Canada and the PI System, watch the full presentation here.

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