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Exploring the future for tank and terminal operators

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

The challenges and opportunities faced by tanks and terminals are changing. The Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0 (I4.0) offer new ways to increase efficiency and save costs; increasing use of LNG is changing storage requirements, and safety is paramount with operators needing to understand and manage environmental and safety risks effectively. A variety of experts will cover these topics at this year’s StocExpo Europe, which will take place in Ahoy Rotterdam on 20 – 22 March 2018.

Jane Ren, CEO of Atomiton, will talk digitisation with specific experience in tank storage facility upgrades. She will focus on the new generation of Industrial IoT (IIoT) technologies and how they will enable terminal operators to unlock greater potential in energy savings, energy cost reduction, productivity, quality of service and efficiency while offering customers greater transparency and visibility and facilitating regulatory compliance. Factors for success in these areas are both technical and operational.

Ren will discuss how ‘edge computing’ software enables analytics and knowledge generation to occur at the asset, meaning data can be immediately translated into valuable, meaningful intelligence. This provides a much faster update for operators to see what is happening with a process compared with aggregating data in the Cloud or other central storage. Operational success factors need both the distributed local intelligence provided by edge computing and global coordination of data to enable activities such as the coordination of energy usage to increase overall efficiency.

Although the benefits of I4.0 and distributed facility intelligence are easy to understand, the difficulty of such an upgrade may appear daunting. This is alleviated using software to create a solution that is, to a certain level, hardware neutral. New modules are consistent across a range of different hardware types. Experience has shown that sections of terminal sites can be upgraded in as little as four to six weeks. Ren will deliver insights into the benefits the technology has to offer and share case studies along with preliminary data obtained from existing tanks storage facilities that have digitized their operations.

Chris Dickinson, Regulatory Officer at the UK Environment Agency, will also be speaking at the conference and will share his experience in the inspection of liquid containment systems to give terminal managers the knowledge and understanding they need to get value out of inspection activities. This is not just about meeting regulations but also about being able to ask more focused and pertinent questions to contractors and suppliers to have confidence that emergency containment plans are robust and appropriate.

Håkan Jubel is an expert on tank gauging for cryogenic systems at Emerson. The increased use of LNG is driving changes to storage tank requirements. Natural gas has also impacted the petrochemical industry as ethane is becoming more widely used as a feedstock rather than naphtha, increasing the need for smaller, pressurised cryogenic tanks used for short-term storage. Such isolated vessels typically use pressure transmitters to provide a DP level as opposed to topside level measurements. So where is all of this taking the industry and what is the next step in meeting the specific needs of LNG storage?

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