“Within a midstream asset, various data sources need to be interlinked with each other, effectively building relationships between different inputs and collectively forming an ecosystem of shared information. In our journey of developing industry tools, we ensure that each of our applications communicates with one another for collective data analysis,” begins Drew Lafleur, CTO of Technical Toolboxes.
A company worthy of its name, Technical Toolboxes, pioneers pipeline applications that serve as bridges between disparate sources of data. These integrated, cloud-based applications are combined with online resources and repositories to standardize a multitude of industrial operations such as laying pipes, horizontal drilling operations, and more. These operations are optimized to foster integration capabilities and nurture advanced data analytics to obtain actionable insights into the different stages of the aforementioned pipeline lifecycle management. Through these tools, Technical Toolboxes sets the industry standard for engineering analysis, emerging as an organization armed with a diverse set of applications for specific use cases.
Standardizing Industry Applications
Technical Toolboxes underwent an overhaul quite recently under the leadership of Lafleur and Martin Fingerhut (president and CEO), effectively creating a new avenue for industrial applications. “We were a sales organization, to begin with, and now, we are more of an R&D organization with a sales wing in it,” adds Lafleur, highlighting the developmental strides taken by the company recently. Technical Toolboxes initially offered independent applications for a diverse set of production requirements. Now, it has built a platform powered by an integrated data environment that fosters workflow automation and advanced data analysis on an existing set of applications. The platform—THE PIPELINE HUB (HUBPL)—already hosts 75 percent of Technical Toolboxes’s individual solutions, embedded into its core. The company terms its platform as ‘a turning point in the product line,’ as it fuels digital transformation initiatives and developments from a holistic perspective. It is being used by over 400 midstream operators and service providers globally.
“Instead of opening up multiple applications to perform various analyses for a typical midstream pipeline engineering effort, one can utilize our new, integrated platform to suffice multiple needs and requirements,” says Lafleur.
The HUBPL supports multiple core software applications utilized for engineering analysis while providing the interoperability of data with enhancements to user experience. The platform connects to the company’s, and its partners’, library of industry standard tools to facilitate the flow of data across the pipeline lifecycle. For example, these tools range from Pipeline Toolbox (PLTB) and Horizontal Directional Drilling PowerTool to partner products for AC-Mitigation and PRCI’s RSTRENG® and a wide range of other applications. Maps and GIS Engine support them, in tandem with asset and project data management modules. However, one of the most notable features of The HUBPL is its capability to integrate existing databases a client may have, as well as other add-ons onto the suite of applications available. Collectively, these modules help clients benefit from the concept of “a single version of the truth” for the diversified array of data sets. Users can exchange data without the hindrance of duplication through a collaborative ecosystem for workflow management.
Working Smarter rather than Harder
We ensure that each of our applications communicates with one another for collective data analysis
Advanced analytics and machine learning form the vital ingredients of the company’s future product portfolio for nurturing the much-needed automation that reduces the clutter of manual process management, paper-based operations, cybersecurity concerns, and the requirement for a multi-tenant cloud environment. Technical Toolboxes strives to bring in the sense of granularity to the analysis of data within pipeline management to delve deeper into more delicate details of industrial processes. “You could consider the example of a construction phase where precise calculations are needed through various stages of design and construction, such as lifting machinery, lowering of pipes, and horizontal drilling. The integrity of decision-based operations plays a crucial role in obtaining the highest efficiency in these operations,” adds Lafleur. Technical Toolboxes utilizes decision points to optimize a variety of such operations, and this functionality has been one of highly used elements within the company portfolio of applications. Technical Toolboxes has also brought to market various formulations and calculations to analyze the strength of pipes and adversities such as corrosion rates and determine the safety of infrastructures while suggesting relevant fixes based on their geographical locations. One of the key differentiating factors in this aspect of pipeline management is how Technical Toolboxes reduces the number of digs performed by field technicians in repair operations.
Building a Consortium for Industrial Intellectual Property
Addressing the growing need to minimize human intervention in the pipeline management sector, Lafleur emphasizes the need for training, in terms of understanding industrial applications. “We conduct training sessions on the utilization of these industrial applications, educating the workforce on a variety of operations such as welding inspection or tank inspection for the integrity assessment of corroded areas, lowering of pipes, stress analysis, and risk mitigation, combined with advanced analytics and machine learning that are applied to midstream-faced operations,” highlights Lafleur.
Technical Toolboxes’ subject matter experts (SMEs) conduct webinars on industrial applications and theoretical aspects of a specific technological genre. The firm is working towards the launch of a new product line—Flipped Classroom—exclusively for training. It will feature an online repository of frequently asked questions (FAQs), engineering prerequisites, video based course content, and live webinars with industry SMEs. Through the new HUBPL software platform, knowledge base and training expertise, Technical Toolboxes aims at crafting an online marketplace for intellectual property (IP) aggregating data from disparate sources, built through numerous partnerships to facilitate the adoption of best practices for industrial applications. These initiatives pave the way for common ground in terms of IP, emerging from discrete industry pioneers and specialists around the world. They nurture developmental initiatives by leveraging modern practices to resolve end-user challenges; this way, engineering firms that develop their own IP can integrate with Technical Toolboxes’ platform. “An organization from Canada has taken streamlining and digitalization of construction records to a whole new level and we are partnering with them to leverage this capability seamlessly into analysis applications. Where most organizations stop at essentially generating or storing PDFs and documents, this solution not only converts every information set into a ‘searchable and utilizable module’ that can create reports on the fly but also be leveraged for big data analytics,” adds Lafleur.
These milestones and achievements have set Technical Toolboxes apart from the rest of the pipeline management solution providers, owing to the depth and sophistication of its industry expertise. It is safe to say that, HUBPL is unmatched in the current marketplace, due to the sheer magnitude of applications and functionalities available to organizations worldwide. The credit to HUBPL’s success goes to Lafleur and Fingerhut’s team of experts that transformed Technical Toolboxes from a developer of siloed applications to a firm that offers a unified platform for pipeline management.
Since the appointment of the duo as CTO and CEO, Technical Toolboxes has embarked on a journey of remodeling its business model and commenced the development of a homogenous ecosystem of applications for pipeline management. These developments led to the conception of the HUBPL, which later emerged as the benchmark for industrial application. The company envisions the delivery of a faster, more integrated, and secure pipeline management system in the near future, reimagining the deployment and utilization of industrial applications through a holistic approach. Their recent efforts of enhancing user experience with add-ons will support clients in the efficient management of resources with relevant industrial calculations through the HUBPL autonomously. Incorporating maps and geospatial analyses, aid visualization of pipeline data and challenges, as well as automate many activities through dynamic segmentation of pipes through processing inline inspection (ILI) data and other calculations based on proximity to risk receptors.
Technical Toolboxes aspires to further continue its innovative strides through collaborations and partnerships, in a bid to create a conglomerate, integrated environment for industrial IP. Undoubtedly, these efforts will push the company to the pole position in the race to perfecting industrial applications for a variety of use cases.