How Cisco LaunchPad portfolio startup Tranzmeo remotely monitors pipelines in the oil and gas industry

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Valued at $ 1.2 billion and growing at 7 percent CAGR, the global oil and gas industry has been a key growth driver for the world economy. Oil pipelines are an integral part of the industry, but they are also susceptible to multiple structural failures like corrosion, cracks, leakages and debonding, among others. Apart from significant fuel loss and threatening safety, these accidents can cause irreversible damage to the environment as well.

Studies have shown that on average 85 percent of fuel that is released after an accident remains unrecovered, 53 percent of accidents led to soil contamination, 41 percent have impacted environmentally sensitive areas, and 92 percent of water crossing pipelines involved in accidents were uncased.

More than 7 million-km pipelines are being manually patrolled across the world every day. Forward-thinking companies like Tranzmeo have embraced digitalisation to enable remote monitoring of pipelines around the globe. The startup was recently chosen by Cisco LaunchPad, an accelerator programme that helps high-potential startups in the B2B segment to scale, in its latest cohort.

Making every meter of the pipeline matter

The journey of Tranzmeo began in 2017 when Safil Sunny came across a news report about a massive theft of oil which had caused a significant loss to one of the major oil & gas pipelines in India. Intrigued by the incident, he wondered why oil and gas companies were not able to prevent such colossal losses and pilferages upfront. A B.Tech graduate, Safil, who has almost 11 years of experience in the IT sector, at the time was working with a Netherlands-based company and leading their mobile practice in India. After detailed discussions with experts in the oil and gas industry, he understood that such thefts were happening every day worldwide. Oil & gas companies struggled to protect their pipelines which laid underground, above the ground, and even under the sea.

He decided to investigate further and spent almost a year doing a detailed analysis of how pipeline operations and maintenance were being currently done by oil & gas companies. This led to the founding of Tranzmeo in 2017. Based in Cochin, Kerala, the startup is on a mission to enhance remote pipeline monitoring, thereby reducing costs and downtime, minimising the pipeline’s carbon footprint and augmenting safety and regulatory compliance.

"I realised that the problem of theft and pilferage was one of the biggest in the pipeline operations. Besides fuel loss, what was more worrying was the damage to the environment. At Tranzmeo, we are redefining remote monitoring using advanced artificial intelligence and fibre sensing technology," says Safil Sunny, CEO and Founder, Tranzmeo.

Engagement with Cisco LaunchPad

Tranzmeo was recently selected by Cisco LaunchPad and the experience has helped them create an end-to-end smart connected solution based on industry best practices for pipeline infrastructure and network architectures. Tranzmeo will be working on converting computational, storage and deep learning workloads in the Cisco environment. It is also exploring and integrating Cisco's industrial switching and Edge Compute solution with the Tranzmeo OneView platform.

"At Cisco LaunchPad, we are getting expert advice on the global oil and gas market and digitising pipeline technology. We also have had a great experience in leveraging Cisco’s data centre products like Hyperflex/UCS and we're able to integrate, test and validate our solution with Cisco’s O&G CVD for Pipelines," says Safil.

The current engagement with Cisco LaunchPad will be a catalyst for the next phase of growth for Tranzmeo in scaling their operations and corporate engagements.

Redefining pipeline monitoring with OneView

Tranzmeo's T-Connect OneView is India's first complete comprehensive solution that can remotely monitor complete pipeline infrastructure 24x7 and provide highly accurate insights in real-time. The system smartly taps into existing fibre optical cables, lays them on the site of the pipelines and detects 20+ activities in remote pipelines with an accuracy of less than 1 meter. It is a low-cost maintenance system with zero power requirement that provides 100x protection with 60 percent cost savings.

"We are helping oil and gas companies identify leaks, third-party intrusion such as manual digging, machine digging, tunnelling, augering, human movement and vehicle movement remotely. Our solution is also capable of tracking internal PIGing tools movement inside the pipelines," says Safil.

Some of the technologies Tranzmeo is using to power the solution are AI, machine learning, photonics, fibre sensing technology and high-performance computing. The distributed fibre sensing technology is a proven method for detecting any activity (hardware, acoustic and temperature) in the vicinity of an asset over long distances.

“The T-Connect OneView System is 100x superior to any other traditional DAS/DTS/DFOS system. It is the only company that has an AI, ML-powered production-ready system with 22 million sets of qualified AI Acoustics Signature samples, which dramatically reduces the false alarm rates (FAR), negative alarm rates and nuisance alarms rates (NAR)," adds Safil.

Overcoming market challenges

When Tranzmeo started, Safil required an operating pipeline to conduct research, and it was a challenge to convince customers and investors. They did their first pilot for one of the pipelines in Mumbai for 40 kms and it has now grown into a huge network of 4,000 kms. Today, Tranzmeo is getting a lot of implementation proposal requests from many oil and gas companies around the globe and is even working with fortune 500 companies like HPCL, Petronet MHB, among others.

In the wake of the lockdown imposed in India due to COVID-19, the mobilisation of manpower is one of the biggest problems for pipeline monitoring. Tranzmeo has converted the passive protection method to a 24x7 active protection. With the OneView Solution, companies do not require any manual inspection to protect their pipelines.

Scaling to access new markets in the future

Tranzmeo has a close-knit team of 20 individuals working behind the scenes to expand the detection algorithm collection for their OneView solution. The startup has received seed round funding from Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and is planning to scale their product in international markets.

Although the startup's primary focus is on the oil and gas industry, they are also planning to foray into adjacent markets like border and perimeter security, railroads, power cable monitoring, which is a $ 10-billion industry and is growing at 10 percent CAGR.

"We will be working with one of Cisco's customers in the oil and gas space and launching a pilot project with them. We also plan to build a central command and control centre to monitor connected pipeline projects," says Safil.


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