User Stories: How Southern Star Secures Safe and Reliable Operations with HxGN EAM
‘One Community Working Together.’ To support its company vision, natural gas transporter Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline harnesses an enterprise asset management (EAM) solution with collaboration at its core. A tool that enables multiple teams, across various locations, to access the shared data and information they need to drive safe and reliable operations across the board. Since 2017, this solution has been HxGN EAM.
For more than three decades, HxGN EAM has enabled organizations to move from reactive maintenance to more preventative and predictive. In doing so, HxGN EAM empowers companies to gain greater visibility into their assets and, ultimately, make smarter and more data-driven investment decisions. The solution is flexible and scalable, meaning that businesses can embrace HxGN EAM in the ways that serve them best. For Southern Star, this means employing the tool’s multifunctionality and ability to expand as the company grows and adapts.
Watch this video featuring Stuart Johnson, Southern Star’s Manager of Planning and Scheduling, and read further to learn more about how Southern Star deploys HxGN EAM in its operations and the value it delivers to its teams and customers.
Southern Star is a key player in the natural gas sector. Headquartered in Owensboro, Ky., the company conducts operations across seven states in the United States’ Midwest region - Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Wyoming, Colorado, Texas and Nebraska. For more than a century, Southern Star has built its reputation as a safe and reliable vendor for the transportation and storage of natural gas.
Overseeing 5,800 miles of pipeline, 43 compressor stations and eight gas porosity storage fields, the company has many assets and work processes to manage and maintain. To service its customers and communities, Southern Star relies on a robust enterprise asset management solution to support operations over this vast and varied territory.
Key Business Needs
In 2017, Southern Star embarked on a new journey. The company knew technology would be key in improving its services. “If we really wanted to push the reliability and safety envelope, we needed more robust systems,” says Johnson. This need was the catalyst that encouraged Southern Star to turn toward enterprise asset management. The multifunctional capabilities of an EAM solution, such as HxGN EAM, offered support for both asset and work management activities.
Johnson explains that before HxGN EAM, the organization was using legacy systems that were developed internally. “(These systems) helped us maintain compliance and keep the company on track. But it was time for us to look more toward solutions that we could deploy that would help us become a more reliable company.”
To achieve this, Southern Star required an asset and work management solution that met its diverse operational needs, helped modernize its assets and had the ability to expand as the business grew. Another key priority was finding a “one-package solution;” a solution with plenty of mobility capabilities to avoid investing in additional third-party software.
HxGN EAM: A One-Stop Shop Asset Management Solution
Adopting HxGN EAM has benefited Southern Star in several ways. Many of these benefits stem from EAM’s “all encompassing” nature. The solution’s multifunctionality means that the company can use the same software and service across various teams and territories, for several purposes.
“Today, Southern Star uses HxGN EAM for all our operations and maintenance work that we perform in the field. So, we probably have about 100,000 work orders that we issue and complete every year. We also track a lot of our environmental services that we perform there … so we’re using it in multiple different ways these days,” says Johnson.
The adoption of only one solution saves the company time, increases efficiency and eliminates the need to invest in multiple products to get the job done. Southern Star’s employees can perform their roles with more ease using just one platform. Plus, during rollout, users only needed to get used to a single new system, making uptake a lot easier.
Another key capability of HxGN EAM that is essential to Southern Star’s operations is the solution’s mobility capabilities. Johnson says this feature led HxGN EAM to become a frontrunner during the search for a new tool. Mobility is crucial as Southern Star orchestrates work orders and scheduling for teams in eight states. Coordinating operations across such a large territory calls for an agile asset management solution. The embedded mobility capabilities of HxGN EAM also means that Southern Star does not have to rely on third-party software to make the most out of the tool. This drives both efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
For Southern Star, optimized asset management plays into a wider modernization journey. A journey that Johnson says will happen faster with HxGN EAM on board. “Since Southern Star began using HxGN EAM, we've seen a lot of improvements. Most notably, we saw a 25% increase in efficiency. And so that ... allowed us to be able to move quicker into a modernization program that we've been working on to really increase the reliability of our assets.”
Equipped with a single solution that draws together siloed data, Southern Star unlocks additional time to focus on other areas of business that secure safety and reliability. This time is also well spent on current operations and making sure that they are being carried out optimally.
Challenges to Overcome
When considering the adoption of an EAM solution, prior to 2017, Southern Star had to take several challenges into account. First and foremost, the company needed to find a solution that enabled it to maintain its high performance across a vast and varied territory. A tool that would provide a clear oversight of the company’s operations, assets and field data. At this time, Southern Star grappled with siloed data, available only at certain locations or headquarters. Now, HxGN EAM consolidates this data in a single platform, so that it may be easily accessed by any team, any time, from anywhere.
Another obstacle in Southern Star’s path was the need to transform operations and incorporate new technologies without the capacity to grow its IT team. HxGN EAM offered a solution to this. The solution’s mobility capabilities enable multiple teams to use the same tool. This mitigates the need to add additional software, requiring a larger team to integrate and operate these systems and further investment.
Additionally, Southern Star required a mobile solution that could provide both metropolitan and rural areas with a quality service. In remote locations, this was a challenge due to a frequent lack of internet coverage. However, Hexagon’s disconnected mobile capabilities provided a solution. The HxGN EAM Field Work mobile app enabled Southern Star’s teams to automate and capture work in real-time, whether connected or disconnected to a Wide Area Network (WAN) connection.
Business Achievements Powered by HxGN EAM
Alongside the 25% increase in efficiency using HxGN EAM, Southern Star has also optimized its time and resources through asset management. “About three years in was when we met our return on investment,” says Johnson. “That was a big milestone and definitely makes the whole endeavor worthwhile.”
Looking ahead, Southern Star plans to expand its use of HxGN EAM even further, beyond only work and asset management, to other activities related to daily operations. Environmental, social and governance matters, for example, can be tracked using HxGN EAM’s case management feature.
The role of data will also likely expand, as Southern Star sets sights on using the solution to start mining data, automating where process where needed, to become more efficient. Building a bank of data over time will only support this to greater extent. Johnson comments that “the future is bright at Southern Star.” “As we dig into our asset data … we've compiled enough data that there's going to be opportunities for us to review processes, look for new efficiencies, be able to find ways to increase our reliability [and] decrease the cost of our parts and materials for expense.”
Efficiency, reliability and safety, all secured with the support of HxGN EAM.
Creating a plan of action to optimize your organization’s approach to asset management? Learn how you can leverage HxGN EAM to achieve this, increase productivity and improve the efficiency of your operations.