Calling MacGyver: Chemical Distributors Need a Tank Monitoring Ecosystem

By Carolina Ruiz • Published May 9, 2023 • 5 minute read

Do you remember the MacGyver episode where the protagonist “Mac” solves a problem for a distressed chemical distributor? He cleverly devises a way to remotely monitor the volume of a substance in a customer’s tank.

The episode was from the late 1980s. Or was it from the 2016 series reboot? No matter. MacGyver quickly solves the challenge by tapping into the customer’s tank monitoring system.

This episode never happened, but the scenario isn’t Hollywood fiction. The plot seems appropriate given the need for innovation in the high-stakes chemical distribution business. Remotely monitoring tanks at customers’ well sites, manufacturing plants, and other locations, could solve a lot of challenges.

Fortunately, a real-world solution exists.

Using the Power of IoT

Sales representatives for distributors typically live hours away from customer sites. The distances elongate the time between in-person visits to assess customers order needs. Customer tank levels could drop, and even run out, before salespeople make their next rounds.

To prevent runouts, distributors who lack real-time data must set up fixed delivery schedules. The ability to remotely monitor tanks would make it possible to dynamically route orders and maximize delivery volumes. This would save transportation costs by putting an end to manual tank monitoring and the delivery inefficiencies and customer frustrations it creates.

The smarter way for distributors is to use a powerful IoT tank monitoring solution that communicates with existing tank readers and sensors at customer locations. The solution makes it easy to manage customer needs by remotely capturing tank data to drive higher profits and plan more efficient delivery routes.

One-stop Shop for Tank Monitoring

Chemical distributors can leverage systems their customers already have for monitoring tank levels, detecting leaks, and protecting against overfills. The monitoring technology used by customers may be local to each tank and not connected to a networked system that allows remote access. Not a problem.

It’s possible to remotely capture and transmit data for all tanks at one location by using a cellular connection from a single-point communication device. This innovation allows site managers and drivers of chemical distributors to get an up-to-date reading of customer tanks by pressing a button to request an update.

Customers have varying tank products and sizes. A distributor that needs to monitor a customer site with multiple tanks can leverage a single communications device to read various sensors. One sensor may be reading the level of grease in a barrel, for example, while other sensors monitor liquids in tote containers.

With the right communication device – the right IoT device – the data from each sensor can be captured and delivered to you via a web portal that adds a business intelligence layer for making significant process improvements.

Integrating with PLC Connections

Another way to remotely access data from tank monitors is by leveraging customers’ existing programmable logic controllers (PLCs) connections. Manufacturing facilities and other types of industrial operations typically have PLCs that make it possible for distributors to capture data.

In these instances, distributors can get access to tank levels and other telemetry data sent to the PLCs using a battery or AC-powered network device. The device connects to the existing process sensors to capture and transmit data to a cloud-based portal. Similarly, in this way, teams can monitor tank levels and track inventory from wherever they are.

Where IoT Meets ROI

The payoffs from adding a connection and communication layer to transmit data from systems already in place to a central portal with powerful analytics is significant. This approach changes the way teams can manage tank inventories, delivery planning, and routing.

With real-time visibility, teams can identify and address issues before they become bigger problems. Moreover, IoT solutions instill greater confidence and control for distributors to optimize customer service and delivery efficiency.

This is what happens when you leverage a one-stop-shop solution partner to have a truly connected monitoring ecosystem by leveraging technology that is already in place. This is the sweet spot where IoT meets ROI.

A single-source supplier like SkyBitz provides chemical distributors and their customers with the technology and accessories to effectively monitor tanks and achieve a new level of operational efficiency. If you’re interested in learning how to capture data from any device – and if you’re ready to make your tank monitoring operation smoother and more streamlined – let’s connect.