A tank monitoring system can reduce costs and improve safety, efficiency and compliance.
Looking for ways to increase the safety and efficiency of your next turnaround? Remote storage tank monitoring should be near the top of your list of considerations. Here’s why.
1. Optimize Staffing Costs
Monitoring fluid levels in tanks is laborious. How many times a day does one of your workers climb up a tank staircase to check whether the tank is nearing capacity or, at the other end of the process, is about to run out of cleaning solution? After making a fluid level guesstimate, the worker goes down the staircase again, only to repeat the process a few hours or even minutes later.
In some cases, regulations require two employees for this task, one to do the work, the other to keep an eye on the person inspecting the tank level. If you’re monitoring multiple tanks, that’s a lot of man hours, which shrink significantly with a tank monitoring system in place. Even when you use a filling indicator, a level indicating system for controlling the content level from a good distance, it takes a lot of time to check everything.
A good tank monitoring system lets you view liquid levels, volumes and flow rate on a single tank or as many tanks as your project requires.
2. Improve Safety Standards
It a brief moment of distraction is enough to cause a worker climbing a tank staircase to fall and suffer serious injuries, leading to time-consuming OSHA paperwork.
A tank monitoring system can significantly reduce the likelihood of these scenarios. With such a system, workers no longer need to inspect the tank or estimate fluid levels using fill indicators. Instead, you or a designated employee can monitor tank levels in real time using a local display, cabling in a control room, Bluetooth connectivity on a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, or through an online platform with a slight delay.
3. Improve compliance
Overfilling can cause costly spills that lead to expensive cleanups, not to mention steep fines and countless hours of reporting. As any refinery manager knows, a spill is a major ordeal. With a tank monitoring system in place, you can set alerts, by a visible or audible alarm, messages and real time data nearby the tank / (un)loading, to let you or a designated employee know when a discharge tank is nearing capacity so spills don’t happen.
United Rentals’ proprietary tank monitoring system features customizable high and low liquid level warnings so you choose at what point you want to be alerted, and customizable readouts so you can view m³, liters or percentages. To further reduce the risk of human error, we can support you with a control setup that automates the start/stop of pumps or valves.
4. Optimize waste reduction
People who eyeball tank levels tend to miss the mark. If a discharge tank is 70% full, they might think it’s 80% or 90% full.
“Workers taking a visual level reading often overestimate how full the tank is, and that can interrupt the process unnecessarily,” said Bart Ros, Senior Product Manager for United Rentals.
A tank monitoring system removes the guesswork. When you know exactly how full a tank is, you can make the switch at the optimal time. In addition, you can often reduce the total number of tanks needed.
5. Preventing Stockouts
If your supply tanks run low or run out, your process stops. “Meanwhile, the money clock is running hard,” said Ros. Alerts on supply tanks help you avoid running empty at critical times in your process. And, instead of switching over to a new tank of cleaning fluid too soon, you can use every last liter or volume in that tank.
6. Data for planning
Another benefit tank monitoring delivers is actionable project data. During and after the turnaround, you can use the data collected by the system to check total flows in and out of the tanks and assess how well the tank capacities were utilized. Understanding your tank usage and total material processed through the system can help you find ways to make improvements on future projects.
How to Choose the Best Tank Monitoring Solution for Your Needs
When considering a tank monitoring system, look for one that has a fast and easy setup. Concerned about sparks? The United Rentals system is compliant with API 500 standards and guaranteed to be spark-free, as it is based on Atex-approved radar level sensors.
Look for a company that can provide the storage tanks as well as the tank monitoring system. You’ll potentially reduce your spend by dealing with just one vendor, and you’ll have only one set of invoices for all the equipment you’re renting.
Successful turnarounds require knowledge and experience. You should always consult with an expert regarding the specific circumstances and applicable rules and regulations related to your site and situation.