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P R O J E C T PA R T N E R S :

INSIDE THE DIGITAL JOURNEY OF PLAINS MIDSTREAM CANADA Plains Midstream Canada (PMC) has an extensive network of pipeline transportation, terminals, storage and gathering assets strategically located in key crude oil and NGL producing basins, transportation corridors, and at major market hubs in Canada and the United States. PMC has embarked on a digital transformation roadmap to help them prioritise new business capabilities and achieve operational excellence



ormed in 2001 with just 130

strategy team can look at the

employees, Plains Mid-

business holistically instead of

stream Canada (PMC) has

just focusing on a singular aspect,

grown to over 1,400 employees and

such as implementing new tech

provides oil and gas transport and

solutions. “Rather than having

storage solutions across Canada

that quite narrow tactical discus-

and the United States. The compa-

sion with the business around

ny’s network of pipelines along with

software for instance, we engage

a fleet of truck trailers and railcars

them in business terms, better

provide oil and gas producers with

understanding their needs and

flexibility for transporting crude oil

desired outcomes before analys-

and natural gas liquids products link-

ing how to positively affect a

ing petroleum producers with

change to support them. In effect

refiners and other customers.

we’re acting as that internal tech-

The organisation is currently in the

nology broker, working with the

midst of a five-year digital transfor-

business to address their prob-

mation plan to drive improvements

lems by creating new business

to business processes, improving

capabilities. Sometimes our aim

the use of its existing technology or

is merely digitally enabling what

introducing new digital technologies.

we have, but we are absolutely

To design and enact this, the com-

planning for digital optimisation

pany brought in Chris Leonard, a

and transformation.”

Senior Business Strategist who is

“Not everything on our road-

now their Director of Strategy and

map is about introducing

Digital Transformation. In his words,

technology,” Leonard continues.

he and his team “plan the right work

“Often we’ve discovered that a

at the right time.”

review and improvement of exist-

The roadmap to digitisation is underpinned by a triad of people, process and technology improvements which means the digital

ing business process is just as valuable.” However, he adds that they are looking at planning initiatives to


Chris Leonard immigrated to Canada with his family in 2012 after a very successful 20 year career as a commissioned Officer in the British Army. His aim was to join Corporate Calgary where he hoped to employ his previous strategic planning and operations experience. A brief spell working at the main Syncrude site in Alberta’s oil sands was a prelude to working for Brion Energy back in Calgary. Leonard subsequently joined Plains Midstream Canada in the Summer of 2015 to lead the Strategy and Digital Transformation team within IS, working directly with the CIO. Over the past three years he and a growing team have helped establish a comprehensive Digital Transformation Roadmap which will lead Plains Midstream Canada into the Digital era. As he openly admits, he is not a technologist by background, but is finding the challenge of matching new technologies to business problems and a fascinating area of long-term interest.

“We partnered with leading industry experts from Sapient, Microsoft and IBM and to look at how best to plan our work, to realize our strategic goals and focus on business needs” — Chris Leonard, Director of Strategy and Digital Transformation add new digital assets to the business in the long term. For instance, they are looking at combining technologies such as digital twins, augmented and mixed reality, and the internet of things (IoT). “Being responsible for both OT and IT enables us to look at the whole picture, applying an IoT lens to the SCADA world for instance,” says Leonard. Leonard has also created a strong governance structure that uses analytics to support these strategic goals, which has led to a significant rise in capital investment for Information Services (IS) led programs. “It’s great having that long-term vision and roadmap, but unless you’ve got that governance to really help you prioritise what work you’re capable of doing first, it’s very difficult to see the wood for the trees,” Leonard says. “There’s always more work than there are w w w. p l a i n s m i d s t r e a m . c o m


means to complete it. We’ve got to ensure

consumption data at PMC facili-

we’re prioritising the right work at the right

ties and pump stations which will

time, and that’s inextricably linked to our digi-

reduce overall consumption and

tal transformation roadmap.”

improve utilities management –

He envisions that PMC’s digital transforma-


we’re really quite excited about

tion and partnerships with strategic vendors

that.” Through the work they have

will result in significant cost savings. “We part-

done with Sapient to introduce a

nered with leading industry experts from

comprehensive Energy Trading

Sapient, IBM and Microsoft to leverage global

and Risk Management capability,

expertise and capitalise on other industry

they also expect to pay significant

applicable use cases with a view to help

dividends. “Working with part-

accelerate the realisation of our IS strategic

ners such as Sapient allows us to

goals to drive enduring business value. Our

leverage different industry exper-

Power Utilization adviser for instance, which

tise and apply it to our unique

we’re co-developing with IBM Watson, will

circumstances. It really does

provide assessments and analysis on power

become a partnership where

strategic vendors help us to

environment in the communities where PMC

address focused business

operates, digitising safety plays a key role.


Another key initial development with the IBM

It is also going to be beneficial

Watson program is the production of a Safe

for training staff on the systems

Work advisor. PMC is now using data analyt-

the company already uses. “Pro-

ics to assess and leverage as a tool for their

cess efficiencies go

safety teams to expand upon and help

hand-in-hand with introducing

improve safety performance. PMC will be able

new digital technologies,” says

to move from descriptive analysis to predictive


analytics to better prevent potential incidents. The company is also looking at future wear-


able technologies and how they could be

Safety is a core value at PMC,

used. Live information feeds could help on-

and as the organisation strives for

site workers by helping manage potential

protection, security and safety of

hazards through real time information sharing

employees, the public and the

without having to communicate via a radio.

1,400+ Approximate number of employees

w w w. p l a i n s m i d s t r e a m . c o m


“Advanced analytics might be able to provide greater business intelligence but existing business models and how people do business also need to change” — Chris Leonard, Director of Strategy and Digital Transformation 08


w w w. p l a i n s m i d s t r e a m . c o m


Year founded

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Leonard explains further: “We’re looking to

PMC is now working on a capa-

exploit existing technologies that can read the

bility called “Unified Stakeholder

environment an employee is in, whether they

Management” to pass crucial

have maybe been exposed to a particular

time-sensitive safety information

chemical, or whether an individual is showing

onto all stakeholders.

signs or symptoms related to abnormal stress by measuring heart rate or even if that individ-


ual is still upright or on the ground, which

Looking ahead, one of the main

might indicate a slip, trip or fall. The technol-

challenges for the industry will be

ogy is creating better situational awareness

adapting to change. “Nobody

without encumbering the individual to manu-

really likes change,” Leonard

ally provide regular updates and reports.”

says. “Advanced analytics might

PMC is also focused on stakeholders and is

be able to provide greater busi-

committed to maintaining strong relationships.

ness intelligence but existing

With operations that span across Canada and

business models and how people

the United States, the effective management,

do business also needs to

tracking and dissemination of information to

change in order to properly real-

their many stakeholders is vitally important.

ise the untapped value w w w. p l a i n s m i d s t r e a m . c o m


“It’s a great time to be part of that journey, strategising and planning the right work to effectively allow an organisation to take advantage of Industrial Revolution 4.0” — Chris Leonard, Director of Strategy and Digital Transformation 12

technology can provide. Just throwing smarter technology at problems does not in itself create digital transformation.” Another challenge is the scarcity of skillsets, with a shortage of data scientists and digital security specialists in particular. However, Leonard believes this presents an opportunity for organisations to work more closely with academic institutions, helping them to tailor their programs to meet the emerging needs of businesses through the next industrial revolution. The major disruption is yet to happen, as Leonard explains: “The big digital disruption in oil and gas will come when someone figures out how to monetise assets without actually owning them, in the same way Uber monetises the cab without owning it.” He sees PMC as planning to take advantage of digital opportunities in the next decade. “I think our holistic digital transformation roadmap will ensure we’ve invested optimally in the right technology to effectively solve the right business problems and create new business capabilities. I also think we’ll be sufficiently mature in our digital strategy and planning to take advantage of future opportunities created by digital disruption in the midstream segment.” On the whole it’s an exciting era for Plains Midstream Canada. “It’s a great time to be part of that journey, strategising and planning the right work to effectively allow an organisation to take advantage of Industrial Revolution 4.0. These opportunities don’t come around on a frequent basis.” w w w. p l a i n s m i d s t r e a m . c o m


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Brochure - Plains Midstream Canada  

Business Chief - Canada

Brochure - Plains Midstream Canada  

Business Chief - Canada