What are the benefits of Tank Monitoring?
By Carolina Ruiz • Published May 4, 2021 • 5 minute read
Companies in any industry that consume or distribute bulk liquids such as fuel, lubricants and chemicals are always at risk of losing revenue or incurring major costs should their tanks be depleted.
Preventing inventory run-outs is easy when companies use tank monitoring or telemetry systems. The data from these systems also makes it possible to streamline operations and planning by having 24/7 visibility of tank levels and historical inventory usage.
Sales associates for a distributor no longer need to waste time calling on customers to get daily orders. The technology eliminates this burden by automatically monitoring tank levels of customers. Distributors can use the technology to monitor their own bulk storage tanks as well to prevent shortages and run-outs that would otherwise cause lost sales and disruption for customers.
Distributors often place their own tanks at customer locations and use telemetry systems to provide their customers with the assurance that products they use will always be available. The data coming from these systems is used for automatically managing customer orders and lead times to replenish inventory.
Information from telemetry systems such as tank level and usage can be integrated with cloud based dispatch and routing software systems used by distributors to automate and optimize the planning process to deliver more gallons with fewer stops.
In short, tank monitoring systems provide more than data. They are building blocks for distributors to offer vendor-managed inventory (VMI) and other value-added services to create a customer service advantage. Those who are capitalizing on the latest technology are not only gaining efficiencies but are proactively responding to customer needs, which is a game changer.
Meeting specific needs
SkyBitz uses a common architecture for tank monitors that integrates with a variety of sensors that uniquely match the type of products being monitored. Each sensor is designed to reliably monitor any type of liquids, whether that is a tank of petroleum or a harsh chemical such as bleach, in any temperature environment while maintaining common installation and integration procedures.
SkyBitz SmartTank has sensors that are specifically designed to monitor gasoline or liquid chemicals in the Hazmat Class 1 of explosive substances, for example. Sensors that monitor these substances have wiring designs that prevent electrical sparks.
For vented tanks, SkyBitz uses highly accurate differential pressure sensors as opposed to ultrasonic sensors that are prone to false readings caused by signal bouncing. For non-vented tanks, SkyBitz SmartTank uses a delta pressure sensor.
Telemetry data is transmitted through satellite or lower-cost cellular networks to the cloud-based SmartTank portal for users to configure the reporting however they want to match their specific needs.
The SkyBitz SmartTank data portal gives users a full menu of information to monitor current tank levels, product temperatures, and map the locations of tanks. Users can also view available tank capacity, signal strength, battery levels and alarms for tanks with low inventory levels.
Distributors can use a summary or aggregate view of tank locations, types of products and inventory levels as well as historical usage data to accurately forecast when deliveries at each location should be made before tanks get low or emptied. Tank locations and inventory information can be sorted into regions and routes to create density and plan deliveries.
Any or all of the tank monitoring data from the SmartTank portal can be integrated into route planning and fuel or propane dispatch software systems for process automation.
The PLC connection
Distributors that do business with companies that have manufacturing facilities and other types of industrial operations are able to automatically capture data from existing telemetry systems their customers use. In these instances, distributors can get access to tank levels and other sources of data that is being sent to programmable logic controllers (PLC) that their customers use.
A PLC is a ruggedized industrial digital computer that has been adapted for automating manufacturing control processes.
Distributors that provide VMI services to manufacturing customers are able to capture data from their PLC devices using a SkyBitz PLC uplink. This battery or AC-powered network device has dual 4-20mA inputs that connect to existing process sensors to capture and transmit data to the cloud-based SmartTank portal to monitor tank levels and track inventory.
SkyBitz has a product support group that assists distributors and other types of businesses with implementing tank monitoring solutions. The product support group has extensive experience in managing numerous installations in tanks with various types of chemicals as well as for PLC applications.
For large installations, SkyBitz has partnerships with the industry’s most experienced contractors. Its Delivery Services team can provide assistance throughout the entire installation process from coordinating bids to project management and contractor selection.
SkyBitz also has a dedicated sales engineer to assist customers with any technical aspects during the product selection and implementation phase.