The Future of Bulk Liquid Storage Terminals: the rise of connected workers
In recent years, the bulk liquid storage industry has faced increasing pressure due to rising competition and operational costs, along with a need for greater efficiency and safety. One of the main challenges in this industry is the lack of real-time monitoring and control. Digitization and automation seem like an obvious answer. However, full automation is not interesting from a cost-benefit point of view for this industry which is why companies rely on their operators in the field to regulate the flow.
Agidens recognized this challenge and sought to develop a digitization solution using industry proven technologies to enhance safety and efficiency. In this article, we will explore Agidens’ solution in more detail and how it adds value to the bulk liquid storage industry.
Digital Leap: Enhancing Safety & Efficiency in Bulk Storage
The bulk liquid storage industry is facing increasing pressure due to declining margins, rising operational costs, and the need for greater efficiency in terminal operations.
One of the current challenges in bulk liquid storage terminals is the lack of real-time monitoring and control, which proves difficult to digitize in a cost-efficient way.
Opening or closing valves in a terminal is crucial to regulate the flow of liquids throughout the storage system.
For people who’ve never been on a terminal, it’s hard to imagine why companies have to rely on their field operators to execute the manual process behind. Operators note down the valves that need handling and pass this information on to the next person, who then rides a bike to locate and operate the correct valve.
This process can be risky without real-time feedback, potentially causing issues in the line-up that can lead to contamination or other problems.
Tailoring Digitization for Enhanced Safety
As Agidens, we want to help our customers mitigate this risk. We embarked on creating a digitization solution for our customers with a cross-functional team, aiming to enhance safety and efficiency.
In other industries, we have successfully implemented automated valves, but this would be a complex and costly process for an industry where terminals often span several kilometers.
Furthermore, given the operating frequency of these valves, full automation is not valuable.
The Connected Worker solution, created by a cross-functional team, is a prime example of how digitization is more than just automation.
Introducing Agidens’ Connected Worker Solution
Agidens’ Connected Worker solution plays a crucial role here, showing how digitization is more than automation. By using industry-proven technology to simplify processes and enhance communication, Connected Worker adds tangible value to the bulk liquid storage industry.
Instead of relying on manual notetaking, valve numbers and their desired states are delivered digitally through the Smartflow platform. Our team developed an intuitive workflow that facilitates the safe and compliant manual operation of valves while adding a digitally closed feedback loop. This low-code platform is highly customizable and is still operational even if the internet connection is lost, mitigating one of the risks of a bulk liquid terminal.
Real-time feedback on the state of the valve (open or closed) is delivered to both the field operator and the control room through TWTG sensors. Furthermore, we use a private LoRaWAN IoT network to securely transfer the information across the entire scope of a bulk liquid storage terminal. The final piece of the puzzle, and our forte, is bringing all of this together and integrating it with PCS7 -with or without RouteControl- or any other DCS system.
The connected worker solution is just one example of how we can pragmatically use IIoT to instantly boost safety and efficiency on site.
Enhancing Safety & Efficiency in Bulk Liquid Storage
Nevertheless, ATEX zones pose a challenge in digitization projects for the bulk liquid storage industry due to the need for strict safety regulations to prevent explosions. Thanks to our industry experts we’ve been able to select sensors and devices that are ATEX Zone1/IECEx certified.
The key takeaway for Agidens? Our employees’ expertise and knowledge in designing and implementing complex systems that integrate hardware, software, and networking components is our key strength as a system integrator. Their experience in a variety of projects has given them extensive knowledge of industry-specific systems and standards, making them well-equipped to tackle this challenge. By combining their skills, we were able to quickly design and implement an effective solution that adds significant value for our clients in the bulk liquid storage industry, improving safety, compliance, data transparency, and efficiency.