From indoor to outdoor installations, tanks and containers can be easily seen and identified in both residential and industrial areas. They are employed for both above and below ground applications and are even located in remote locations far away from any human habitation.
In the US alone, more than 550,000 underground storage tanks are deployed to store petroleum and hazardous substances. Even though they may not seem of any value, but especially for industries of oil & gas, water, food & beverages, and chemicals, these tanks play a very crucial role. They are a pre-requisite for these industries because they allow the creation of an optimized repository and enable companies to cater to the fluctuations in supply and demand conditions.
A proper reading of liquid stored in these receptacles is of utmost importance for these industries. By analyzing data associated with readings of liquid levels in these tanks/silos, a company can develop trends and patterns to improve efficiencies and increase overall productivity.
In most general cases, wired systems are used to detect the level of fluids in tankers. However, there are several complications associated with the use of wired systems for level monitoring:
- Wired systems are rigid and quite complex. They are difficult to be scaled up horizontally and are inflexible to the ever-changing business needs.
- They are prone to be damaged via various environmental and man-made factors.
- The initial cost of implementation of a wired system is very high and they are difficult to be used in extreme topographies.
Enters Wired Level Monitoring:
The wired level monitoring systems use wireless connectivity and ultrasonic sensors to measure the level of liquid stored in tanks. These systems are proving to be an effective solution for tank level monitoring as they can easily mitigate challenges that their wired counterpart generally face.
Below are some of the advantages that an IoT based wireless level monitoring solution offer that wired systems don’t:
- Lower Installation and Implementation Cost:
In comparison to the traditional wired level monitoring, wireless measurement tools are much more cost-effective and time-saving. Companies can easily reduce the cost associated with the integration and alteration of wired infrastructure. Furthermore, initial hardware, labor, and maintenance cost are also reduced and the productivity of the company is elevated.
Moreover, in contrast with the wired systems that require a lot of changes and modifications for seamless execution, wireless systems use easy plug and play sensors that can be assembled and disassembled with minimal efforts. These ultrasonic sensors can be easily installed on the liquid-carrying containers and connected with a gateway to share the liquid level data to a cloud platform. A user using a compatible platform can then access this cloud-stored data from remote locations in real-time.
All it needs is a single site survey to configure a network of connected devices as per site specifications and business requirements. This survey also helps companies to inspect necessary parameters, set alarm thresholds, and establish a network of specific protocol that supports end nodes and devices. Thus a wireless level monitoring system can be easily implemented and at a fraction of the cost of a wired network.
- Real-time Maintenance and Informed Decisions:
The biggest benefit of using any IoT system is the myriad of data a company can enjoy, emitted from multiple end devices. The same is the case for companies using wireless level monitoring solutions. Through sensors installed in various receptacles, a company will have access to timely and accurate information about the liquid level stored in them. Hence, industries won’t be dependent on any scheduled tasks to manage liquid levels and can hence effectively manage inspection and maintenance procedures.
The data gathered from the end devices will help them to avoid understocking conditions and prevent overfills. In addition, companies can use the data gathered from end devices to identify patterns that result in inefficiencies and develop precise plans to direct business and support their decision-making processes.
Also, the predictive nature of IoT can be used by companies to prevent the emergence of probable situations. Companies can predict the possibility of equipment failure, component malfunctions, and other catastrophic situations that may cause a change in the volume of liquid to be stored. For example in a factory setup, where tanks are the source of maintaining proper heads, a broken pipeline connecting tanks and other equipment can drain the contents of the tank quickly and result in substantial losses to a company. A wireless level monitoring solution, in this case, can be used to detect rapid depletion of liquid levels in the tank, indicating a potential malfunction in particular equipment.
- Catering the ever-changing business needs:
As a business grows so does its needs and goals. As we discussed above, wired systems are quite rigid in nature that can restrict a company to scale up horizontally. Wireless networks, on the other hand, are quite flexible and can be used to keep up with new expectations of the company.
IoT based level monitoring is quite versatile and scalable that enables a company to not only detect levels in stationary tanks but also in movable tankers. Also, new nodes or sensors can be integrated into new tanks and connected with an existing gateway to make it a part of the already present wireless network. Hence, an existing solution can itself be scaled up with ease without any heavy costs associated with human labor or change in the existing infrastructure. Also, the real-time alert systems of IoT can be used to detect and prevent emergency conditions that will help companies to prevent calamitous situations.
Taking manual readings of the liquid level of a tank is too much time-consuming and cost-intensive. While wired systems for level monitoring solve issues, they themselves have a series of complications that don’t make them a system worth depending on.
Using a wireless network for taking the liquid level in tanks is a viable and promising option for companies that typically deals with fluids. Industries like oil and gas, water, chemicals, and beverages are now realizing the potential of this solution and installing it to monitor and manage their products.