Below is the outline of the spiel I gave to the Young Pipeliners’ Forum session a couple of weeks ago in Brisbane.
David Letterman was an American night time talk show host; he retired in 2014 after over 30 years in the business.
In 1994 I was just out of university; I wasn’t a big fan of Letterman… but anyway, I had just started working at TransCanada PipeLines with a group of people, several of whom I’m still friends with, even over the distance from Brisbane to Calgary … and on the weekend we would sometimes either watch David Letterman, or Saturday Night Live, or an ice hockey game, or whatever was on at the time.
So Monday morning over the water cooler – there actually was one in that office – at the water cooler we more often than not went through the David Letterman “Top 10” list, which was sometimes funny though often not.
He covered topical subjects like politics, office/work life, entertainment, benign stuff. Sometimes it was very funny. The top ten was counted down in reverse order, and he’d build to something like “….and the number one reason that, TV is better than books, is …..that it’s easier to spell TV.” So, yes, sometimes not funny at all. Anyway, he’s out of favour now, and probably not known by some of you anyway, and sometimes it really wasn’t all that funny.
But there’s out there now a thing with “Listicles” on social or even news media, and blog posts that are lists, like “9 ways to improve productivity” or “3 ways to ask for a raise”. There must be something about the human brain – we love a list. And so they are everywhere.
So like it or not, here’s a list.
Top 10 things to know about AS 2885.
And, no, these aren’t funny.
ME 38 is the name of the committee that oversees a portfolio of Standards related to Australian pipelines, of which AS 2885 is the major component. I don’t know where the “ME” comes from specifically, although I’ve always guessed it’s Mechanical Engineering. And the 38, maybe it was just the next committee number on Standards’ list. Or maybe it was from a random number generator.
#9 The ME-038 Portfolio
The ME-038 Committee oversees 9 standards, which I often update the status on here, so you can find the list elsewhere on this site.
AS 2885 itself, is a 7-part series of documents that set out requirements for the safe design and operation of pipelines in Australia.
#8 The ME-038 Subcommittees
Each of the 9 documents – there are 2 corrosion/coating related ones in addition to AS 2885’s 7 parts – in the ME-038 portfolio have a dedicated subcommittee that looks after the words in those Standards.
The Standards are built by volunteers on those committees, who selflessly devote their time and knowledge in order to keep the Standards useful and current. It’s not easy being on a Committee, but if you want to be, I’ve often said, you simply have to know someone, and be known. Membership is by referral, because we have to know what and how you’ll contribute. The worst kind of Committee member are those who raise all the problems, but don’t come with recommended solutions, just complaints about how ‘hopeless’ the Standard is. Not helpful. The best Committee members are those who raise problems, and then work to resolve them by writing the words. It’s amazing how often technical committees go around and round about the problem, but never put the words down. It’s really hard to agree on wording sometimes.
#6 Where to get it
Currently AS 2885 – and all Australian Standards – are only available through SAI Global who currently has the rights to distribute the Standards. That was through a 15-year agreement which has just expired, and SA is currently breathlessly telling us that new distribution channels are being arranged and dreamed up. I’ll believe it when I see it. One positive option is for APGA to be a distributor, which is great in theory, but it means a whole new IT system for APGA in order deliver licensed electronic content. We have high hopes that whatever happens with Standards distributions, that it will be easier and cheaper to access Standards. Currently your employer probably has a license, but when you’re individual, or even want to see a document not in your ‘licensed access’, then you see why the current distribution is a bit messy (and expensive).
#5 Not a textbook
AS 2885 is not a textbook. It’s not where you specifically learn how to design or operate a pipeline. AS 2885 sets out the minimum expectations of requirements to be met. These requirements are set out and determined by those subcommittees based on experience, knowledge, and more importantly, science engineering math and physics (facts). Sometimes though, we need to use judgement which is a strong and important tenant of AS 2885. That’s why it’s not a textbook, it’s a set of requirements based on the laws of nature.
#5 Not a textbook, but…
AS 2885, while not a textbook, is an amazing resource for pipeline engineers. The appendices are full of detailed explanation about the requirements, and while not a textbook, is a really really good reference. If you haven’t read the appendices, I strongly recommend that you do. Granted, since they are not a textbook, some of them are rambling and hard to absorb – but the depth of information is there. Read them.
#4 Being “Competent”
APGA competencies are definitely intertwined with the AS 2885 content, and requirements. We often hear about the “Competencies” – which are a list of 220 topics that we can decide to become competent in. One way to use the competencies is to link them to the Section of the standard that outlines the requirements to be met, and then you can see the link between the competencies and the Standard.
Also, the definition of “Competence” according to AS2885.0, is related to a combination of knowledge, skills, and experience. Another way of thinking about that, is to consider your output (reports, specs, emails, meeting minutes, etc), interactions (meetings, conferences, networking, communities), and stories (what others say about you).
I’m not the only person who knows about the Standards, I just seem to be talking about it all the time. I’ve been on Committees for 15 years now, and didn’t set out to be in this position, but it suits my skills – writing, synthesising, simplifying, learning – that’s what happens on Committees. There are also many other committee members in the industry – over 100 – who can help with interpreting or explaining the words to you. Other resources include internal people in your own company, industry communities like YPF, AGPA, and others; PIPEd provides formalised training, as do I.
And the number one thing to know about AS 2885?
#1 Know it by using it.
If you design, weld, operate, test, protect, or manage pipelines, you’re expected to know the basics of the Standard – you should read it, as boring as that is, I know. You’re not expected to read it cover to cover in one sitting– that is really boring and it doesn’t stay with you anyway. On the other hand, don’t read one section in isolation and think you understand the concept. It takes experience and skills to use the Standard – you won’t get it the first time, and even I have to check back to re-read sections to remind myself when faced with a new question or problem. But you are expected to know it, refer to it, know when you need to use it and how to use it.
And on the other, other hand – it’s ok if you don’t know it, or don’t understand it. We’ve all been there. Take some time to think through your question, formulate it in an intelligent manner, and then contact a committee member. We’re always happy to help out.