State-of-the-art gauging: high accuracy with a big payoff

Don Horne   

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This is the first in a series of articles on level management. The entire handbook of level articles can be downloaded here.
From a cost-benefit perspective, there has never been a better time for tank farms and other bulk storage operators to upgrade their tank gauging infrastructure. Adopting a holistic strategy combining the latest measurement and communications technologies and analytical components can provide compelling arguments to move off of  legacy devices or manual measurement. Today’s state-of-the-art servo and radar tank gauging instrumentation generates data in real-time, with unprecedented accuracy – as precise as ±0.4 mm for servo gauge or ±0.5 mm for free-space or stilling well radar. The high quality data derived from that provides great reliability, consistency and visibility in calculating inflows and outflows, estimating inventory in storage and available capacity, on a per-tank and facility-wide basis.
Yesterday’s tank gauging methods produce large variances in measurement data and reconciliation of inventories. That, in turn, widens the exposure to business risks like shortfalls of inventory or capacity that affect deliveries to customers, on-time acceptance of new product, uncertainty about custody transfer and revenue accounting, or losses due to as-yet undetected leakage.
These risks tend to be greatest with manual measurement. Critical information such as product temperature, density or water bottoms in fuel storage tanks can’t be adequately measured or anticipated. Manual measurement is labour intensive and must be performed in all types of weather. It also relies on manual reconciliation of inflows and outflow data, generally resulting in wide variances in inventory and capacity tracking.
As for legacy tank gauging devices, a facility full of complex variants from different vendors is a step up from manual tank gauging depending on how the data is reconciled, but still provides limited visibility about inventories when compared with today’s state-of-the-art systems.
The optimal configuration for upgrading to best-of-breed is based on single-vendor uniformity and simplicity across all field instrumentation. In supporting such a project, Endress+Hauser specialists would suggest how best to combine high measurement accuracy with a site-optimized communications strategy for real time wired or wireless data transfer, monitoring and analysis. The extremely high accuracy provided by the latest technology assures improved inventory and capacity control, and greatly increases the potential for early recognition of anomalies pointing to leakage. The highest environmental and safety considerations can be incorporated into the plan, like an overfill protection system to prevent spills of volatile or toxic substances. This holistic approach is conceptually the best from a risk management standpoint. It minimizes business risk; the efficiency and reliability improvements feed through to the bottom line. The uniformity and simplicity in field instrumentation make the system easier and more cost-effective to manage and maintain. Reducing on-site safety and environmental risks demonstrates a tangible commitment to the operator’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program. Other soft benefits include reinforcing relationships with suppliers, customers, investors, employees and local communities.
Such a comprehensive solution can be developed for a wide range of storage situations – liquid, gaseous and solids like slurries and bituminous substances.
Using a single solutions provider such as Endress+Hauser adds value during the planning stage. One size – or one type of measurement technology – doesn’t necessarily fit all situations. Factors such as tank geometry and contents and the site size and layout are taken into consideration. For measuring storage of a high value product, premium, high accuracy radar measurement would likely be recommended; the larger such a tank, the greater the need to limit financial exposure. For lesser products, standard accuracy radar might suffice.
Endress+Hauser’s new platform of high-performance tank gauging instruments supports both radar and servo technologies, each with a range of sensing elements and process connections to ensure accurate and reliable measurement in almost any process and environmental condition. State-of-the-art level and temperature measurement technologies with industry-proven communication protocols allow accurate measurements and data collection. Endress+Hauser’s tank gauging instruments, Micropilot, Proservo and Prothermo meet the NMi and PTB requirements and also have local approvals according to OIML R85. The uncompromising usage of web server technology allows easiest access to tank data and comprehensive data presentation to anyone in need.
It’s the world’s first platform of both typical tank gauging measuring principles designed according to IEC 61508 and certified SIL2/SIL3 capable. The platform also includes unique Endress+Hauser management and analysis features for highest reliability as well as fast, easy commissioning, maintenance and diagnostics. Endress+Hauser can propose process instrumentation and software packages for pressure, flow and temperature devices, loading metering skids as well as data interfaces and its inventory management software solutions: Tankvision®, Terminalvision® and SupplyCare®.
Upgrading of sites with an existing tank gauging architecture accumulated over the years may not be financially feasible. In that case, a gradual upgrading strategy can be applied. Operators can migrate their existing instruments and advance their tank farm to state of the art step by step. Endress+Hauser will help managers determine how migration can be managed without losing the existing installed base but allow progression into an easier maintainable and flexible site architecture.
For more information, click here: https://www.ca.endress.com/en/solutions-lowering-costs/ims/inventory-monitoring/tank-gauging
To watch our Tank Gauging video, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPB4pFCBBQ0&list=PLQRFGW1Z4TGHm_2avemjPkUtPtsjoU7IP&index=19&t=0s

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