In 1990, our pipeline formulated a vision of a modeling environment that would take advantage of the rapid advancements being made in simulation technology. In bringing this vision into being we learned several lessons that can be shared with others who are contemplating similar implementations. This paper describes the practical realities of developing a real-time pipeline simulation system. Focusing on the development process, we describe our procedure of surveying potential users and specifying key functional requirements. We review our experience in working with software developers and consider the benefits and drawbacks of collaboration during development. We then discuss the importance of creating early practicable applications in maintaining management's commitment and describe several of these applications. We relate how our experience with an imperfect SCADA system points to a potential weakness in any large system and the need to make the simulation process more robust. The paper concludes with a review of lessons learned, caveats, and potential pitfalls.


Our company has implemented a real-time pipeline simulation system. Like many other pipeline companies, we find that our daily business makes ever-increasing demands for timely information regarding pipeline operations. Competitive pressures require that we operate our facilities efficiently and profitably in a highly dynamic environment. We believe that real-time simulation will play an important role in meeting the challenges we are facing. Looking back at the path leading to our present level of development, we note that we have experienced a couple of disappointing starts as well as some unanticipated delays and unforeseen obstacles. There have also been significant achievements and rewards along the way. These have made the long journey worthwhile and we are excited about the future prospects for the development effort. In some respects, our experience was unique. We chose to participate in the development of a new product rather than purchase an off-the-shelf package. We also chose to be closely involved in alpha and beta testing during development, with a consequent commitment of manpower and resources. Many of the problems we encountered during implementation of the real-time simulation are probably peculiar to our pipeline and SCADA system. We believe, however, that much of our experience will be applicable to others embarking on the road to real-time implementation. We are not describing a flawless development process leading to the perfect simulation tool. We have found the developmental journey to be rewarding but occasionally bumpy. Although we are now using real-time simulation routinely, we have a distance to go before we achieve our ultimate simulation goals. The purpose of this paper is to share our experience and the practical lessons we have learned over the past 12 years. The paper is organized chronologically. Following a review of the history of our prior development efforts, we examine the opportunities and challenges that we encountered at the outset of our current development program. We then recount some of the benefits we have obtained thus far, and describe the current status of our system.

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