Remote Tank Level Monitoring Systems

Remote Tank Level Monitoring Systems

Telemetry applied to remote tank level monitoring has been used for some time in water plants, pump stations and effluent treatment systems. The ability to have wireless monitoring in isolated places is priceless. If you are looking for information with regards to a system like this, make sure the vendor has experience in the subject and the ability to create custom software if needed.

As telemetry evolves and becomes cost effective, many other industries are switching to remote monitoring. Soon all tank level monitoring will be remote.

Some of the functions that are fast moving toward remote monitoring are:

  • Tank Level Monitoring
  • Tank Farm Level Monitoring
  • LPG Tanks control & Instrumentation
  • LPG Tanks Automation
  • LPG Tanker Loading/ Unloading
  • Driver Controlled Delivery Systems
  • One Man Tanker Loading Systems

But the applications are endless.

An interesting example of industries switching to telemetry is the food industry. As research provides new insights in the action of trans-fat cooking oil on our health, some food plants are moving to zero trans-fat cooking oil. The change seems innocuous from the operational point of view, but it is not. The zero trans-fat cooking oil produces heavy accumulation of grease on their float level monitoring systems, sinking them. The consequence is highly inaccurate tank level readings. The solution for this problem is to use a remote tank level monitoring system. In this case there is no need for a float; a sensor is located on the top recording accurate levels via ultrasound.

Yet another application is the remote monitoring of vendor tanks in the fuel industry. The fact of having a full map with the different vendors needs allow optimizing the delivery, which translates in huge savings and high efficiency.

How does remote level monitoring work?

The system has four main elements:

  • Sensor
  • RTU (Remote Terminal Unit)
  • Communication
  • Telemetry software

Simple as it looks, to choose the appropriate equipment for each business need can be a challenge.

Sensor: the sensor is applied on the exterior of the tank in different positions depending on the function (typical positions are top and bottom). It is able to collect information with regards of the tank level and other parameters using technologies like ultrasound and Hall Effect. The sensor comes with an attachment system and usually powered by a battery, in some remote locations a solar generator is added to keep the battery charged.

RTU: The remote terminal unit collects the information captured by the sensors, organizes it and transmits the signal to the communication devise in the central hub. In standard systems, the RTU is also attached to the sensors hardware. The spectrum of possible wireless technologies used is wide and the optimal solution will depend on the location conditions. From Wi-Fi to satellite, almost all environments have a working solution.

Communication: The communication device works over the hub side. It is usually a piece of hardware connected to a PC. This part of the equipment collects the information and, with the help of the software interface, the signal is translated in information we can read. One of the main elements of the communication device is the frequency (how often the measure is taken and transmitted). High end devices allow the user choose the settings.

Telemetry software:The management software is able to take the information provided by the communication device and create pictographic images easy to interpret. This way it becomes a simple job to monitor the proper operation of each site. The software usually is also able to give the actual numbers involved for the parameters analyzed when clicking on certain areas of the diagram, or by other means.

When shopping for a telemetry system, gather first information about the physical environment of the tanks and your particular needs. Elements that affect the decision are:

The type of substance in the tanks

  • Number of sensors
  • The site location (close to a LANor remote)
  • The interference in place (concrete and stainless steel are low frequency signal killers)
  • The monitoring location (local or via web)

Knowing your real needs in advance, the search for the right remote tank level monitoring system becomes almost a simple job.