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How can companies maintain operations during COVID-19?

By Krystal Nanan | Last updated: January 31, 2022

In the wake of the recent COVID-19 coronavirus global pandemic, many companies have been forced to close their doors as governments around the world seek to "flatten the curve." By encouraging community isolation and social distancing, countries hope to reduce the spread of infection, thus lessening the burden on the medical system.

However, while some businesses have felt relatively minor effects of the so-called shutdown, essential industries, such as the water treatment/wastewater and energy sectors, must remain up and running. (Related reading: Corrosion Costs & Recommended Practices for the Water Industry.) And, because corrosion does not take a day off, corrosion monitoring of necessary infrastructure remains crucial for ongoing operations.

While traditional inspections such as manual and CCTV inspections are popular, they often require personnel to be out in the field, sometimes in groups. Therefore, these methods are not in keeping with the isolation and distancing measures necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Internet of Things (IoT) addresses these shortcomings by using software, network connectivity and remote sensing technology to allow real-time monitoring of pipelines and the condition of other assets. IoT involves connecting physical objects (or things) to the internet. This is done via the use of embedded electronic devices that allow data to be exchanged between physical objects and remote computer systems over a wireless network. (To learn more about how IoT works, read IoT for Corrosion Monitoring in the Oil and Gas Industry.)

By embedding physical sensing devices into pipelines (or other equipment such as process vessels that require monitoring), specific data such as temperature, liquid composition and material thickness can be communicated to remote systems over existing networks. The advantage is that complete visibility of process and production conditions can be obtained without the physical presence of an inspector or operator.

The information received by the IoT system can then be used, for example, by a computerized maintenance system to determine if a given pipeline is at risk of a corrosion-related failure. By utilizing IoT for corrosion monitoring, maintenance crews will only need to be dispatched to the field on an as-needed basis, significantly increasing the efficiency of maintenance operations, while minimizing possible contact between personnel. In some cases, personnel may even be able to monitor conditions and modify some production parameters while working from home.

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Written by Krystal Nanan | Civil Engineer

Profile Picture of Krystal Nanan
Krystal is a civil engineer and project manager with an MSc in Construction Engineering and Management. Her experience includes the project management of major infrastructure projects, construction supervision, and the design of various infrastructure elements including roadway, pavement, traffic safety elements and drainage. Krystal is also a published author with the Transportation Research Board in Washington, D.C.

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