Sensors, Actuators

Mobile software provides instant tank inventory

New technologies provide tank inventory data to more stakeholders, wherever they are located, leading to improved operational efficiency. Tank inventory management software can provide level, interface level, temperature, density and pressure, and calculate volume and mass for inventory and custody transfers in real time.

By Per Skogberg November 30, 2021
Courtesy: Emerson

 

Learning Objectives

  • Delivering real-time tank inventory management data is increasingly important for users.
  • Data access needs to adhere to current cybersecurity standards.
  • Modern tank inventory management software provides real-time data and lets users calculate volume and mass for inventory and custody transfers.

Instant access to up-to-date tank inventory data is essential for an increasing number of companies and job functions. Many forward-thinking companies in the tank storage and terminals industry are looking to digitally transform their operations to help achieve performance improvements and efficiency gains. This requires them to apply new technology to meet certain challenges, such as enabling a broader range of stakeholders to view real-time tank inventory data to help them perform their jobs more effectively.

For instance, knowing the status of tanks and having a clear overview of all the transfers taking place at a facility helps operations and maintenance personnel make faster and better-informed decisions. Finance departments also need up-to-date inventory information to enable accurate invoicing and order processing.

In addition, real-time tank status and inventory data is often required beyond the boundaries of the facility, such as by management and corporate level personnel, to support their reporting and business planning activities. Suppliers, customers, traders, product owners and logistics partners can also benefit from the ability to access this type of information, wherever they are located and whenever they need it.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult or even impossible to get a consolidated, up-to-date overview of tank inventory. The information they need is often locked in a legacy tank inventory management system, which may only have a local display and no integration with other control or management systems. Some companies will have a networked solution, but these are often limited by hardware and bandwidth constraints, or not designed to permit data sharing.

Figure 1: The mobile Rosemount TankMaster Mobile Inventory Management Software application from Emerson gives users access to live tank data, wherever they are located. Courtesy: Emerson

Figure 1: The mobile Rosemount TankMaster Mobile Inventory Management Software application from Emerson gives users access to live tank data, wherever they are located. Courtesy: Emerson

Legacy systems for tank inventory management

The initial tank inventory management systems were developed more than two decades ago. The software was developed to provide operators – often located in a central control room – with the tools they required to effectively manage the tanks. While the software has evolved over the years with significant improvements in functionality and usability, the traditional architecture has remained the same, and this has limited wider access to the data.

Although inventory data is often provided in weekly reports, it is not always available on demand. Newer tank gauging inventory management systems can integrate with a plant control system and other management systems, but this often requires extensive engineering.

Figure 2: Data can be presented on the user interface via adaptive tank “cards,” which provide an immediate overview of critical inventory data by using Rosemount TankMaster Mobile Inventory Management software. Courtesy: Emerson

Figure 2: Data can be presented on the user interface via adaptive tank “cards,” which provide an immediate overview of critical inventory data by using Rosemount TankMaster Mobile Inventory Management software. Courtesy: Emerson

Modern tank inventory management systems

Organizations that adopted these early systems are now seeing them becoming obsolete and incompatible with the latest and future versions of Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems. Many companies are seeking new, modern inventory management systems that provide greater functionality, interoperability and secure data access to all the stakeholders who need it. At the same time, a new generation of operating personnel are comfortable accessing data on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, and they expect to have information available whenever they need it. These employees are unwilling to accept outdated and complicated software and IT solutions that do not support modern ways of working. For them, information needs to be available when and where required.

Modern tank inventory management software is powerful and easy-to-use because it gathers real-time data, such as level, interface level, temperature, density and pressure, and calculate volume and mass for inventory and custody transfers. This provides organizations with a clear and instant overview of tanks with the ability to quickly drill down to detailed information, leading to improved decision-making and increased operational efficiency and safety.

Mobile tank software capabilities support large-scale operations and provide smaller organizations, with perhaps only a few tanks, with the instant insights. Mobile applications are easy to deploy, integrating with existing tank inventory management systems. Approved users also can obtain access to real-time data via all types of mobile device wherever they are located and can share the data internally and externally.

Mobile applications can be responsive, with the ability to switch automatically between the desktop version and Apple iOS and Android smartphone/tablet versions. They also can be optimized for touchscreens and the user interface can automatically adjust to fit the size of the screen being used. Users can organize tanks into customized groups, based on product or physical location, enabling personnel in the field to keep track of tanks.

Data can be presented on the user interface via adaptive tank “cards,” which provide an immediate overview of critical inventory data. These can differ in size, depending on how much information the user wants to display. Users also can create watchlist groups by bookmarking specific tanks of special importance that require close monitoring.

Figure 3: With valuable tank data no longer siloed in the control room, inventory insights can be securely shared throughout the organization and externally with appropriate cybersecurity precautions, with Rosemount TankMaster Mobile Inventory Management software. Courtesy: Emerson

Figure 3: With valuable tank data no longer siloed in the control room, inventory insights can be securely shared throughout the organization and externally with appropriate cybersecurity precautions, with Rosemount TankMaster Mobile Inventory Management software. Courtesy: Emerson

Robust cybersecurity in tank inventory software

When granting wider access to operational data, it is vital robust cybersecurity measures and powerful user management solutions are in place. The latest mobile tank inventory management software complies with the International Electrotechnical Commission’s IEC 62443-3-3 standard, which relates to system security requirements and security levels.

The design of these applications is based on a three-tier network architecture, with dual-factor login to ensure only authorized users can access the system, and encrypted data communication between system components to further protect against unauthorized access. User management systems control access to specific tanks and data points, enabling user groups to be created with different privileges.

Empower workforce with tank storage inventory information

Delivering the right information to the right people, where they are, is an important means of empowering the modern industrial workforce. The availability of mobile tank inventory management software is helping companies in the tank storage and terminals industry to digitally transform their operations by ensuring critical inventory data is available to the people who need it wherever they are located. With valuable information no longer siloed in the control room, inventory insights can be securely shared throughout an organization and even beyond the plant boundary in real time. This helps companies to improve collaboration and increase operational efficiency.

Per Skogberg, tank gauging solutions manager at Emerson. Edited by Chris Vavra, web content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media and Technology, cvavra@cfemedia.com.

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Keywords: Tank inventory, digital transformation

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Per Skogberg
Author Bio: Per Skogberg, tank gauging solutions manager at Emerson