Distributors Can Forage Like Bees with ‘Smart’ Tank Monitoring

SmartTank Colony

By Carolina Ruiz • Published April 15, 2022 • 4 minute read

What is the best model for petroleum and chemical distributors to maximize delivery efficiency and customer service? The answer may be in your own backyard. Getting an up-close, hands-on demonstration of nature’s best model of efficiency could be dangerous, so an explanation will suffice.

Individually, insects are barely conscious creatures but have a remarkable ability to optimize their resources in swarms or colonies. The honeybee colony is the most advanced of them all. Bees use complex social behaviors and “hive smarts” to quickly solve complicated logistical problems.

Individually, bees have larger and more dense brains than insects of similar size. They use their neurons as efficiently as any animal on the planet to power sophisticated navigation, sensory and communication systems. With their internal GPS system, bees calculate the most efficient route between two points faster than some computers and take different outbound and inbound journeys if it makes sense.

When bees return from the field, they communicate by performing a waggle dance to show others the location and quality of nectar in the region. The colony then creates optimal routes to conserve energy and maximize nectar collection.

Creating a ‘smart’ tank colony

In a few simple steps, distributors can replicate the efficiency and intelligence of the honeybee colony. It starts with installing wireless monitoring devices on tanks of any size (bulk, mini-bulk, cylinders, totes, etc.).

Each tank monitoring device has built-in smarts to compute its location (via GPS), the capacity of the tank, and collect data from sensors — product temperature, tank fill level, signal strength and battery power. The device shares real-time information, including alarms for low inventory levels, to a cloud-based system using 4G LTE or satellite networks.

The cloud-based system instantly aggregates and analyzes the data and uses artificial intelligence (AI) to calculate the most efficient routes to maximize delivery volume per stop and to minimize labor, fuel and other operating costs.

Optimizing tank deliveries

With the SkyBitz SmartTank™ platform, distributors get the most robust, solar-powered monitoring devices paired with reliable, instant communications and advanced business intelligence tools through a web-based portal.

SmartTank™ devices come in different configurations for all types of tanks and products:

  • SmartTank™ ST90 LTE is ideally suited for most tanks and chemicals and its low profile is perfect for monitoring totes.
  • The SmartTank™ ST90 SAT is for tanks in remote locations that benefit from ubiquitous coverage provided by a low orbit satellite constellation network.
  • The SmartTank™ ST95 is certified for monitoring chemical inventory in Class 1, Division 1, Group D Hazardous Locations.
  • The SmartTank™ ST40 wireless monitor is monitoring propane in small tanks. SkyBitz also has a separate version for monitoring gasoline, diesel, and other fuels and lubes in 48-inch or 64-inch tanks.

The “hive smarts” for SkyBitz SmartTank™ come through a fast, responsive user interface that presents key indicators and market insights in a Business Intelligence (BI) dashboard. The dashboard gives users a visual snapshot of critical information such as low-level tanks, demand forecasts and delivery efficiencies by customer and geographical areas.

Distributors use the dashboard to eliminate guesswork and manual processes. Salespeople no longer need to call customers to obtain tank fill levels. Drivers no longer need to manually stick tanks. Customer orders are generated automatically when tanks reach a predetermined level.

With all due respect, not even the honeybee’s waggle dance is this efficient.

Within the SmartTank portal, distributors can use the turnkey SmartTank Dispatch suite of workflow automation tools that combines accurate tank readings and forecasting feeds with automated order generation, delivery scheduling and route planning.

Using smarter technology gives petroleum and chemical distributors a way to optimize tank fleet management to provide better customer service and increase the profitability of deliveries. Contact SkyBitz today to get your business buzzing at peak efficiency.