In the world of natural gas, standards have been used since time immemorial. For Alain Dragon, Engineering Studies Manager at Fluxys, standards are an integral part of daily operations. "The main reasons for working with standards? Safety, cost efficiency and quality," says Alain without hesitation.
"At Fluxys, I'm responsible for the Domain Expertise and Standardisation team. My team has two main roles. On the one hand, they create the material specifications for all the material we need for our installations. On the other hand, they try to develop internal standards for all the activities that recur regularly. These internal standards are constantly evolving under the impetus of legislation, standards and technology. Within Fluxys, we are the guardians of those standards."
Alain: "Standards are of crucial importance here. The natural gas world has been around for a very long time, which is precisely why there are already so many standards in existence. As an organisation, it goes without saying that we should follow those standards. Why? They guarantee quality, safety and reliability. Standards only get better with time. Those we've been using for years have been systematically improved thanks to the experience the industry has gained. A standard evolves and becomes better, more complete, and safer with time. There's no point trying to reinvent the wheel. Using standards is a sure-fire way to get a high-quality result."
Alain: "Standards are used very widely across our organisation. We turn to them when we're setting up new working methods and procedures, such as for our safety management system (EN 16348). We're a technical company, so standards also guide us in all the technical aspects of the various stages of our installations. This ranges from design, construction, commissioning, and operation, to decommissioning (e.g. the EN 1594 family of standards). Standards are also our guide for obtaining all kinds of certifications (e.g. ISO 9001, VCA, or ISO 17020)."
Alain: "The use of standards is spread throughout our entire organisation. I am thinking primarily of all people with a technical background. But colleagues with a management profile are also using standards at Fluxys. At what point do they turn to standards? When they introduce new working methods or when certification systems are set up."
Alain: "Absolutely. The energy transition is completely changing our world. In the traditional natural gas sector, we haven't seen many dramatic developments in recent years. All the necessary standards were in place, and had been perfected over the years. A world of difference from the situation we're in now. The energy transition is moving fast and it's new to everyone. We can't base ourselves on standards because they simply don't exist yet. We're starting from scratch this time. Fluxys, and myself, are happy to contribute. That's why I'm part of the technical committee 234. There, we analyse the differences between the current standards and reality. We look at how standards need to evolve to keep them relevant in the future. For the further development of new standards, it's crucial that all industry stakeholders take part so their knowledge and practical experience can be integrated into the new standards. Only then can standards be efficient working tools."
Alain: "Having all standards on one platform is an incredible asset. Plus, any employee can access the platform at any time and from any location. It's easy to search our own standards collections and consult the standards we need. We also have access to the NBN Reading Room, which contains nearly 40,000 NBN standards. There, you can purchase new standards and also ask any standards-related questions to the NBN team. I really enjoy working with the NBN and its user-friendly platform. It's light years away from how some foreign standards bodies operate. There, you sometimes still get standards on paper, instead of in pdf. A completely outdated set-up. NBN hasn't missed the digital train, which is great."