Two basic approaches exist for automating gas scheduling and nominations to interstate pipeline electronic bulletin boards, or EBB’s: 1. A flat-file upload which typically requires a scheduler to login to the EBB and then upload a file. Or 2. EDI adapters that are designed to fully automate the scheduling process with a two-way EBB communication featuring no manual intervention. Note: For no manual intervention, a company’s energy trading & risk management, or ETRM system must be integrated with the scheduling EDI adapter; this can be a tough task for older technologies.
Both methods, while effective, are drastically different in many ways and each has their own pros and cons. These distinct differences must be considered when attempting to automate this important daily function.
While the first option, the flat file upload option, may not be the holy grail of automation it is a very practical method for many companies. Why? Because it is the most easily manageable by the user and the company and it doesn’t rely on consultants or third party vendors to maintain. There are EDI vendors that will accept flat file uploads and, as a service, will submit and monitor the schedules. This method offers companies a close second to the EDI automation (below) that require complex EDI adapters. The drawback is maintaining the schedules in a more manual way and then tracking them or uploading the scheduling results into a companies system of record and/or ETRM system; a necessary task for settlement & position management.
Option two: An EDI EBB adapter; while probably the preferred method, as it offers true automation without any manual intervention, it is the most difficult to achieve. In order to achieve true automation a EBB two-way technology adapter must be built that maps all EBB scheduling protocols. In addition, a companies system of record or ETRM solution must also be integrated with the scheduling EDI adapter in order to achieve true scheduling automation. Further complicating matters is the fact that each pipeline EBB is distinctly different and no two adapters are alike so for every pipeline a scheduler has to nominate on, a unique adapter must be built and maintained.
This can be a very complicated and expensive proposition—one that many companies choose not to pursue because of the costs and complexity. Also, the mentioned ETRM system adapter must also be maintained. This complicates matters further, as two adapters must now be maintained instead of just one; this complication is often considered too risky and expensive to undertake.
There is, however, good news. EDI scheduling automation vendors, that offer pre-built EBB adapters, are today taking a more economically feasible approach to EDI automation by offering adapters for most of the interstate pipelines on a monthly subscription basis that includes maintaining the adapters. However, for true automation a companies ETRM system must also be integrated and older ETRM technologies (hard-coded software solutions) require custom built adapters that can be an expensive and complicated undertaking.
HINT: If this route is still your method of choice look for newer ETRM technologies that are not hard-coded and offer middle-ware integration technology for quick and easy adapter mapping. In addition, these newer technologies make adapter maintenance easy because the business logic or customization/configuration resides at the template level not at the source code level so configuration and/or adapters are not effected by software updates.
A good example of customizable template-driven ETRM software is Pioneer Solutions’ TRMTracker. TRMTracker is designed for ease-of-integration with embedded middle-ware like technology that makes building and maintaining adapters rapid and easy. Pioneer offers the gas community both an EDI fully automated solution leveraging their quality EDI partners interface as well as a the more economical flat file upload option.
Pioneer Solutions is a global software provider of next generation Energy Trading and Risk Management (ETRM) Environmental Management Information Systems (EMIS) & Enterprise Compliance Solutions. Serving some of the largest utilities and energy companies across the globe, our pioneering flexible, web-based architecture can easily model unique and challenging business requirements and automate business processes.
Our proven, modular technology allows us to deliver specific modules or an entire comprehensive enterprise solution. This advanced configurable, template and workflow driven architecture facilitates rapid deployment ensuring a quality, on-time delivery and low cost of ownership. Pioneer’s comprehensive suite of products are designed specifically for utilities and energy companies offering a single, seamlessly integrated, straight-through processing enterprise platform for all commodity types, risk exposures and compliance needs.
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