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Fleet Space’s Nano-Satellite Network Empowering SEA Gas Pipeline Monitoring

Fleet Space Technologies continues to expand their client base, announcing the deployment of their Smart Sign Technology for Continuous Easement Interference Monitoring project with high pressure transmission pipeline operator SEA Gas.

Fleet Space in collaboration with the Future Fuels Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) and the University of Woolongong, will deliver a scalable end-to-end remote IoT monitoring solution for SEA Gas whose 700km+ pipeline asset runs throughout South Australia and Victoria. The joint venture will benchmark SEA Gas as a world leader in pipeline management with the roll-out of Fleet Space’s “Smart Post Technology”, enabling rapid and reliable response to potential threats near to their linear asset.

It is expected this smart ‘always on” surveillance system will prove to be a more efficient means of monitoring the underground high pressure pipeline, improving detection and proactive management of potential threats. Unwanted easement interferences can vary from illegal human, heavy-machine and vehicle activity, and remote continuous monitoring should be a vast improvement on current periodic manual inspections, conducted via air, foot or vehicle patrols.

The collaborative Network Lifecycle Management research program is partly funded by the Future Fuels CRC, who are working towards the decarbonisation of Australia’s energy networks. This brings together the University of Wollongong’s machine learning software as part of smart Surveillance Sensor and IP Management research, with the smart IoT network infrastructure validation provided by Fleet Space Technologies.

Fleet Space Co-founder and CEO Flavia Tata Nardini is excited that “the most significant learning for utilities from this project will be the value of 24x7 digital monitoring across a vast network of linear assets.”

“Manually monitoring at this scale would usually cost in the order of millions of dollars per year to achieve the same result. Fleet Space combines next-generation terrestrial IoT comms with the latest space technologies to provide low-cost industrial connectivity anywhere on the planet. This hybrid communications system will give SEA Gas the best of both worlds - low power devices, connected anywhere they’re needed, with a solution built for truly massive IoT deployments.”

The Fleet Space solution involves the deployment of hundreds of “Smart Posts” along the pipeline network, creating a terrestrial wireless network connecting low-cost ruggedised IoT devices - cameras the size of an index finger - that will talk to the Fleet Portal Gateways through the LoRa network. The event recognition cameras are trained to identify a catalogue of unwanted activity along the pipeline, understanding the difference between people, animals, and heavy vehicles, through machine learning algorithms. Multi-sensor data is processed by Edge, transmitted over the low cost Fleet Space nano-satellite network, before being fused with earth observation mapping visualisation. The system ultimately enables SEA Gas to receive reliable, actionable insights throughout their pipeline network 24/7, be it event recognition, cathodic or leakage monitoring with other sensors.

By digitising this network-wide monitoring, SEA Gas will experience significant reductions in the inefficient and costly highly manual and labour intensive human-based inspections, while also reducing on-site employee safety risks. This reliable control mitigates the risk of events that have the potential to have multi-million dollar impacts on the pipeline and gas supply.

As one of the most significant risks to the pipeline industry, successful management of external interference will ensure reliability and continuity of supply for SEA Gas and their stakeholders, while also guaranteeing the safety of the community and the environment.

Projected savings through automated monitoring are upward of $200,000 per annum, through the redeployment of labour currently dedicated to pipeline patrol activities. In addition to immediate alerts to potential threats, there is added benefit in risk reduction and safety improvements associated with manual worker inspections. The positive impact of this risk reduction is the potential flow onto insurance premium savings. Once Fleet Space’s scalable network is in place, SEA Gas has the opportunity to significantly expand their monitoring capabilities to include leakage detection and remote cathodic protection data logging.  for condition monitoring.

This ground-breaking technology has the ability to be adopted by any industry with a linear asset base, driving decreased costs to the company and increased safety for workers.

Fleet Space’s architecture combines next-generation terrestrial IoT comms with the latest space technologies to provide low-cost industrial connectivity anywhere on the planet. This hybrid communications system which is the most efficient IoT network in terms of hardware, network comms and software, will give SEA Gas the best of both worlds - low power devices, connected anywhere they’re needed, with a solution built for truly massive IoT deployments.

Nebula is Fleet Space’s cloud Network Management System that allows visualisation and management of the entire IoT network from the cloud. The Edge functionality makes it possible to backhaul LPWAN devices using satellite communication without modifying the devices themselves. The SEA Gas data collected will be used to drive better insights by providing reliable alerts and information through continuous intelligent monitoring as required. This information will help drive better understanding of three main situational behaviours including asset condition which will drive to change/improvements, enhanced network visibility and operational efficiency gains with ‘always on’ surveillance, and the reduction in potential for human error, human resource and community safety issues.

Stage 1 of the project will begin rolling out near to Murray Bridge, with the installation of Smart Posts along 13km of pipeline, the vision is to achieve digitisation and total visibility of SEA Gas’ regional assets in order to optimise operations, saving time and money and reducing risk.