TankU: an application fuel-oil tanks will thank
Until now, reliably measuring the content of a fuel-oil tank was a complicated business. However, thanks to the Internet of Things, and in particular the TankU application, measurements can now be taken accurately and without any manual intervention.
In the public and private tertiary sector, industry and airports, manually taking regular readings of tank contents takes time, exposes technicians to fumes and requires them to lift heavy lids. To address all these problems, ENGIE Cofely, ENGIE Lab and ENGIE Electrabel joined forces to develop TankU, a smart fuel-oil gauge.
Measurements transmitted via the Sigfox IoT network
TankU enables the volume of fuel in a tank to be measured and monitored using an ultrasonic sensor. Its transmitter then sends the data – updated twice a day – wirelessly via Sigfox, a network dedicated to the Internet of Things (IoT), which can interconnect all objects, wherever they are, using low-speed communications. ENGIE M2M finished deploying this technology throughout Belgium a few weeks ago.
TankU was tested on the Coxyde air base’s 23 tanks. An ENGIE Cofely team took manual measurements at the same time to compare the results and correct the application. One of the problems encountered was converting the distance in centimetres between the surface of the liquid and the top of the tank into litres. Developing the conversion tables required precise settings depending on the type of tank (e.g. cylindrical, rectangular), its dimensions and its capacity.
Furthermore, a solution had to be found for underground tanks, which are outside of Sigfox’s coverage. Installing repeaters, among other things, ensured that the signal would send.
The benefits of TankU
TankU is now 100% operational and effective. It can also measure levels in other types of tank, such as water and chemical tanks. Consequently, TankU sensors are being tested in chlorine tanks in public swimming baths managed by ENGIE Cofely.
“This IoT application has many benefits”, says Hans Verlinde, Area Manager at ENGIE Cofely. “Having the level automatically measured every day improves monitoring and makes interventions much quicker if they are required. The tanks’ heavy lids no longer have to be lifted for measurements to be taken and our technicians no longer have to touch the fuel oil. This solution lets our technicians focus on other tasks and interventions. The application also provides the option of setting automatic alarms, for example when a tank reaches a critical level. It also generates automatic reports, which ultimately give customers a better overview of their consumption.”
Another step forward in the energy transition
Digitisation is one of the four pillars of the ENGIE Group’s strategy. ENGIE intends to play an important role in developing the Internet of Things in Belgium. The creation of practical applications such as TankU to improve energy management and building maintenance is another step forward in the energy transition.