Data Acquisition & Telemetry


Tankvision - tank gauging re-imagined

April 2010 Data Acquisition & Telemetry

At Endress+Hauser, no one shies away from a challenge.

When the Tanzanian & Italian Petroleum Company (TIPER) approached us to recommend a tank gauging solution for them we upped the ante by proposing a wireless Modbus Tankvision system. Six months later we successfully completed the first ever wireless installation of Tankvision. Endress+Hauser is no newcomer to the intricate business of inventory control, worldwide the company has over 20 years of experience of implementing tank gauging systems in large facilities.

Tank gauging refers to the measurement of product in large storage tanks using level, pressure and temperature gauges; it is used frequently in the petrochemical industry. The information obtained in this way is then used to provide inventory data, assist with internal reconciliations, track movements of product, place orders and detect leakages.

In an effort to overcome the shortcomings of existing tank gauging methods Endress+Hauser developed Tankvision, a state-of-the-art tank inventory system based on open web-server technology. The technology enables Tankvision to make tank walls truly transparent for authorised users without any increased cost per access point. In fact, users can access realtime information about any tank from anywhere in the world! All that is required is a computer, web-browser and Internet access. The user can even group similar tanks from different parts of the world to obtain a view of the worldwide stock of a specific product. The system also enables users to request a variety of inventory reports including trending.

Since its introduction two years ago, approximately 1000 Tankvision Workstation Systems have been installed worldwide, keeping an eye on more than 5000 tanks.

Cost-saving Tankvision solution for TIPER

Tankvision is a far cry from the often imprecise, labour-intensive gauging devices that TIPER was using before Endress+Hauser arrived on site. With 30 bulk storage tanks spread over a 1 km² area, storing roughly 180 million litres of fuel when utilised at full capacity, accurate inventory control was number one on the client wish list. “We looked at all the options and selected on a technical basis rather than price,” comments TIPER manager, Piet Niewoudt, on the decision to award the project to Endress+Hauser.

The accurate data which TIPER’s new Tankvision system provides now allows the company to better co-ordinate the purchase of fuel with market fluctuations in the oil price. It also helps guard against fuel losses and inaccuracies caused by human error. These benefits alone have the potential to generate enough cost savings to recover the capital outlay of the new system within months rather than years.

SureCross Wireless from RET Automation Controls

The wireless installation facilitated substantial reduction in costs in terms of labour, material and long-term maintenance. Endress+Hauser approached RET Automation Controls to help specify the correct Banner SureCross Wireless product for the application. The SureCross Wireless system is an industrial wireless I/O network that can operate in extreme environments while eliminating the need for costly wiring runs. Analogue, discrete, temperature and serial I/O nodes are available in IP20 or IP67, and intrinsically safe versions for Zone 0 and Zone 20 are included in the product range. Nodes are easily deployed throughout the facility for gathering data to be concentrated at the Gateway. Installation is fast and easy with flexible mounting and power options. Nodes can either be 10-30 VDC powered or FlexPowered with multiyear battery life or solar powered systems providing power for communications and external sensors.

The SureCross Serial DX80 Data Radio was selected and to avoid any delays during the on-site installation phase, the Endress+Hauser project team first conducted a wireless facility acceptance test in South Africa. The experiment passed the test with flying colours, exceeding a 3 km communication radius.

At present, 20 tanks have been kitted out with Tankvision equipment and connected to the central computerised reporting system. The remaining tanks are currently being refurbished and will be connected to Tankvision upon completion.

Local support and training

While in Dar es Salaam, the South African team worked closely with Endress+Hauser’s Tanzanian agent, Ziyaad Lallmahamood from local company PlyLogix. With his excellent product knowledge and technical skills, Ziyaad is on hand to service TIPER’s Tankvision system whenever necessary in the future.

Endress+Hauser also shared the knowledge with its customer. In this instance, local workers received the relevant training to help with the installation of the system resulting in a significant and valuable transfer of skills. Further training initiatives are planned for the near future.

A packaged, turnkey solution

Endress+Hauser presented TIPER with a turnkey solution. From proposing the uniquely designed Tankvision system on paper to overseeing the realisation of this vision on site, the project team left no detail to chance. This now leaves Endress+Hauser with a packaged Tankvision solution that can be replicated anywhere in the world – good news for ‘tank farmers’ everywhere!

For more information contact Hennie Blignaut, Endress+Hauser, +27 (0)11 262 8000, info@za.endress.com, www.za.endress.com


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