Sensors Add an Edge for Northern Indiana Public Service Company
Northern Indiana Public Service Co., a utility known as NIPSCO, has tens of thousands of miles of electrical lines and natural gas pipelines in its distribution networks. Many of the pipelines were installed in the early 1900s, and keeping a close eye on them is a top priority for utility officials, according to Michael Hooper, senior vice president of major projects and electric field operations at NIPSCO. To help provide the view, it’s installing sensors to continually report on pressure, flow and other metrics — part of a big data and operational analytics initiative that NIPSCO is investing heavily in. “We really need to pull in more real-time data so we can monitor the pipelines and be proactive [in maintaining them],” Hooper said.
NIPSCO already collects a lot of data from some points in its gas pipelines — for example, the compressor stations that keep gas pressurized as it moves through the pipes. But Hooper, who took part in a panel discussion on big data trends at the 2014 Oracle Industry Connect conference in Boston, said in an interview afterward that the utility is in the infancy of the effort to place sensors along the pipelines. It’s a big job: Fully outfitting the pipelines as well as the Merrillville, Indiana, company’s electrical grid could take 10 to 15 years, he said.
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