Monitoring, and Managing Tank Levels, Temperatures, Pressure and Other Conditions Protects Fuel Inventory, Assets and People

November 21, 2019

Understanding how tanks at fixed drilling sites and on oil tankers can deliver dramatically better results for oil and gas companies. With real-time information, informing databases that in turn feed analytics and trigger notifications and alerts, fuel companies can optimize their supply chains, while avoiding accidents that can shut down operations, or lead to tragic consequences (explosions, fires, injuries or even deaths).

Sensor-driven solutions are more affordable and valuable than ever before, as new hardware, firmware and software are combined with more powerful and secure networking, edge computing for closed-loop systems, and cloud computing for the analysis of distributed tanks.

Among the applications modern tank monitoring technologies deliver are tank levels, inside and outside tank temperatures, water pressure, pump performance, and more. While legacy solutions, including SCADA, PLC, DCS, HMI devices and more have been in place for decades, new innovations through more intelligent collection and analysis of data points is positioned to address the complex nature of marketing fuel, from the source to the ultimate end-customer.

Whether solutions serve the Upstream, Midstream, or Downstream sectors in the Oil and Gas (O&G) industry, every participant in the business benefits from more comprehensive, end-to-end management and monitoring of tanks, whether they are fixed or in motion.

What can a smart tank offer that traditional tanks cannot, even those with minimal instrumentation?

  1. Real-time information that supports responsive decision making
  2. Predictive analyses that indicate when a tank requires unplanned maintenance
  3. Yield verification that contributes to understanding whether inventory is lying fallow or new inventory needs to be produced
  4. Safety information that contributes to regulatory compliance with automatically generated reports or data that can be produced immediately should an audit be necessary
  5. Security information that leads to stronger physical and digital protection

In addition to the five benefits above, the ability to sense, collect, analyze and report on a distributed number of tanks and/or tankers provides a management-level view across all assets, regardless of their physical location, and regardless of the supplier or vendor equipment type.

With the legacy SCADA systems, analysts estimate that less than 3% of the data captured from equipment is used in real-time or even near real-time, but next-generation IIoT solutions change that by capturing data point from a multitude of devices simultaneously, and converting that data to deliver equipment health checks, inventory levels, tank yields and more, while also contributing to valuable not only predictive but prescriptive recommendations for maintenance crews.

Sensors that are fitted inside tankers also enable GPS tracking and health of the trucks, rail or water vessels.

And while these business benefits clearly add up to more efficient and profitable operations, they also address increasingly tough environmental regulations, contributing to energy company’s social responsibility programs including ensuring negative and expensive environmental impacts should an event occur are decreased or eliminated.

Companies, their partners, employees, customers, and communities win when tanks and tankers are digitally monitored, managed and maintained in new ways made possible by new standards, components, applications, networks and analytics that define today’s more robust IIoT solutions which deliver immediate ROI when designed strategically and practically.


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