Atomic Object creates app to help customer detect damage in oil and gas pipelines

Atomic Object is the final stages of completing a very innovative and challenging project for Inline Devices / Microline Technology Corp. in Traverse City.

AO project lead Jordan Schaenzle explains the genesis of the project. "We were contracted by Microline because they were taking on a project which was very technically challenging and they wanted to complete it in about one year. They only had a small development team and did not have capacity to get it done in the desired timeframe."

Inline and Microline create Pipeline Inspection Gauges (PIGs), which run through oil and gas pipelines and inspect them for defects and weaknesses. These cylindrical devices are 24" in diameter and approximately six feet long. They are inserted into a pipeline and pushed through the pipe by creating pressure behind it. They can travel up to 300 miles, collecting data from dozens of sensors. Managing and storing the data requires over one TeraByte of flash storage.   

Schaenzle explains the importance of this information. "This data is then used to determine the condition of the pipe. It can detect very small cracks, pitting, corrosion or buildup. If a problem is found the data can tell them exactly where the problem area is. This information is crucial to the owners of the pipeline because it allows them to detect a problem before a leak happens. This can save them a great deal of money and bad publicity by allowing them to do a controlled shutdown to replace small sections of pipes that are compromised."

As part of the project, AO created Streamline, an app that controls the launch sequence and runs diagnostics before and after the PIG is used. The data from Streamline is then designed to be displayed in a visual manner, making it more understandable for the users in the field. The Atomic Object team developed the PIG software and the Streamline app simultaneously reducing the risk of development errors miscommuncation between teams.

Schaenzle says the biggest technical hurdle the team had to overcome was the passing of data between over 78 different circuit boards. "A lot of time and effort was spent making sure that these transactions of data happened as efficiently and reliably as possible," says Schaenzle.

Schaenzle says the project began just over a year ago and he had five developers working on the project throughout the process.

To learn more about Atomic Object you can view their site here.

Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor.
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