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Emerson Automation Experts
15 minutes | 12 days ago
Achieve Greater Labor and Asset Productivity Through Terminal Optimization
The complexity of midstream terminal business is emerging as one of the major contributing factors to rises in costs and lost revenue within the Tanks and Terminals Industry. Effective collaboration between the commercial to operations teams is increasing in difficulty as contracts add more requirements and needed flexibility. In addition, orders can get lost in the shuffle as customer service tries to execute more service requests without the ability to capture and manage consistently and reliably. These challenges drive increased costs for the terminal and the limit the ability to increase revenue. In a traditional Storage Terminal operation, operators manually: Manage & process customer orders Transfer customer order to work orders Transport order inventory to onsite field operators to complete order execution Automating and centralizing this process means reducing the time and steps required to fill a workorder for customers. With the right application, you can streamline nominations management ticketing, inventory, invoicing, and eliminate redundancies—all in real time using an intuitive browser interface. In this episode of our Optimizing Terminal Capacity podcast series, our expert in tank gauging and custody transfer, Thomas Nichley reviews and recommends Emerson’s Synthesis, an expertly designed application software that overtime can eliminate redundancies, minimize vessel turnaround times, while increasing operations efficiency. Visit the Optimize Terminal Capacity section on Emerson.com for on ways to maximize capacity yield and meet Top Quartile benchmarks through greater volume deployment, inventory turnover and revenue capture. Also, If you liked this podcast, be sure to check out our other episode with Thomas Nichley on Optimizing Terminal Capacity: Optimizing Terminals Through Improved Scheduling. Transcript Jim: Hi, everyone. This is Jim Cahill with another edition from our Enabling Storage Terminal Capacity podcast series. Today I’m joined again by Thomas Nichley to discuss ways to better control inventory and use data more effectively and efficiently to optimize operations in your terminal. Welcome back, Thomas. Thomas: Hey, thanks for having me back, Jim. Jim: It’s great to have you. Well, I know since you introduced yourself in our last podcast for the benefit of new listeners, can you share what part of the Emerson organization you’re with and your role? Thomas: Yeah. I’m the business development manager here in North America for Emerson Energy Solutions or what we call ESI. And I’m focused primarily on growing the business within midstream third-party liquid terminals with two software products. Jim: Okay. That’s great. So, let’s begin by for terminal operators, how can automating the orders in planning process help in the context of budget or their workforce? Thomas: So, being able to preplan develop operational S&OPs allow operators to streamline their operations, whether it is through their workforce or through what I call the customer service management systems, where those guys are usually the ones that are to first touch customer orders, process them, and then place them into a work order that is driven to the field operations or to the control room operators to execute orders, movements, and other items within the terminal. So, being able to use a centralized system that can not only collect data from customers, manage that information by eliminating a lot of over redundancy I call it and also by adding in finger proofing, it helps reduce a lot of the additional workload that comes in on the front end and helps it manage the life cycle of the order to shorten it at the back end to where it’s easier to process the information and then get the data back to the customer, whether it’s through an invoice, through their inventory information, or even just through their order completion notifications. Jim: You know, the storage terminals is to me such a fascinating industry because of those complexities involved in moving things in from coming in and storing it and moving it and getting it on through the supply chain in there. So, there’s really a lot of, I think, unique challenges they have. So, how can managing client contract complexities support operations in capturing critical information for client charges on nominations to reduce the cost bleed? Thomas: That is one of the biggest items that we try to cover or one of the biggest pain points we try to cover in Synthesis for a lot of these terminals. Terminals have gone traditionally from just being service-based storage facilities that move products to now being active pseudo traders and operators that work together. So, we find that before it used to be operations dictated a lot of what happened at terminals, but I think the shoe is now going on the other foot to where commercial is now dictating what happens more and more, and operations just plays to the beat that they kind of give them. For example, a lot of business development and commercial guys, they develop their contracts based on throughputs, and through services, and ancillary charges, and other items. And all of these are dictated to their customer and they even not only sell the tank or at least the tank space, but sometimes they even lease the pipelines that are connected with those, setting up sometimes prefer pathing or dedicated lines. And all of those have to be counted for inventory-wise because that plays into, at the end of the day, your charges for your customer. But throughput charges is really where it’s coming in now, because now they’re doing them tiered. They’re doing them based upon a month-to-month basis. And it’s not just, hey, we’re going to charge you for the nitrogen or the steam that you use or the tank space that you’ve taken up or that you did load this vessel or you loaded these trucks and you loaded these trail railcars. What they’re focusing now is how much product they actually pushed through that for that customer and what those charges should be. So, getting that information compiled and connected into a system that makes sure it tags each of these items that are chargeable is very crucial because operations, they only know what they need to do to get the movement done. They’re not thinking about the commercial side of it, about cost bleed and other items. They’re just going through the motions to make sure that they’re getting the product from A to B and that they’re getting it loaded. So, if you have that supervisory positioning in a system that can watch that and tag those items that are based upon the order execution from the bill of lading, the services, and the KPIs and the other items that are being triggered and tracked through the system, I think it really helps not only manage your execution of the order, but the cost that goes with it and that the customer is paying for the services that are rendered, the product that is moved, and the contract negotiation that they’ve provided. And a manual system or even an older legacy system are not automated in that sense to capture those workflows. Jim: Yeah. I can see how this transition is really moving along quickly from really being operations-driven to more market-driven and trying to do that manually and keep up with the changes out there is I think a very difficult hurdle there. So, what do you think is the most important capability of Synthesis for terminals given these rapidly changing and unpredictable markets in which they operate? Thomas: Well, for the new terminals that seem to be coming into operation, they really derive off of moving product out of the Permian. So, there are going to be a lot of these new crude handling terminals, whether they’re blending crudes or they’re moving crudes, and they’re going to be very marine-based and they are very contractually based in terms of how they go to market and how they’re executing their orders. So, I think that is a key point for Synthesis to be able to handle these complicated contracts that these business development guys come up with customers to gain business and gain market share for their terminal with multiple customers. On the other side, though, there is the operation-structured terminal, which are some of the terminals that are steeped in tradition and have been around in the market for a long time. And they are focused more on moving the refined products and the chemical products. There, the operational order driving and workflows, I think is very critical. And when I’m saying that is what you have in a lot of chemical terminals is you have a lot of order that gets their hand held through the process. You know, from the time it becomes an order to the time the truck arrives to the time that it starts getting loaded and then it leaves, there is a lot of steps and a lot of checkpoints, especially in chemicals because you don’t want to mix two chemicals together. There’s a lot of constraints. There’s a lot of presets. There’s a lot of information there that you need to have a checklist for. So, that’s why Synthesis has developed a mobile app now to be able to help with that field ops, who is making those checkpoints. So, I think that’s the two caveats that you have from operation to commercial. So, we look at those separately and that’s how we try to deal with them as individuals. Jim: Yeah. I can see that on those two different sides and on the new. For all those existing terminals that are out there, how is that integration made with Synthesis into the way they operate? Thomas: For existing terminals, I think what we look at is we look at what their current OT/IT structure is. And then we try to find how we can integrate into the SCADA system they’re using. And we also want to integrate into the ERP systems that they’re using and find the best way to leverage the heavy lifting that our system can do for them. Operationally, it will be helping generate workflows from the customer service management team to the operations team, and that will be based upon whether it’s an automated system or if it is a manual system. And we want trigger points on those or I would say milestones through the operation. And from there, the final side of it will be all the bill of lading, all of the metering tickets, all of the tank tickets, and that information, which we can derive from whatever third-party system they’re using. That could be from their SCADA. It could be from TankMaster or from another system that is their inventory system. It could be from whatever metering flow computers they’re using or it could be from a system that just gathers that data and provides it to us. And the key there is taking that OT data and deploying it into the business layer to segue into being air traffic controlled by Synthesis to the order information, the customer information, and the contract information. So, that’s kind of how we try to interface, and we try to pull in all that information that is happening. And it’s really just driving the data to where it needs to go to, to be able to execute an order and also execute the customer transaction and information back to the customer, whether it’s invoicing, as I said earlier, or over execution, or as I said also earlier, the inventory. So, that’s kind of how we look at it. Jim: Yeah. It just to me seems like you need that information and maybe even reexamine what is the information that is available in the process, and do you need to instrument some more to get it to blend that operational side and business side for, you know, smoother operations? This has been really good. If you had to kind of summarize things about how you’re going to see performance gains in your storage terminal, how would you summarize that for our listeners? Thomas: I think the best way to summarize it is the ability to streamline the information that goes with the customer order. And by that, I mean, the pertinence of the contract that you have with the customer, the work orders and workflows that go with executing the order for the customer, and then all of the after the fact information that is required for collecting the book inventory, then being able to do the reconciliation for the book, the physical, and then giving all that information or being able to be transparent about that information with your customers, whether it’s through a portal, through a report, or through KPI information that they may inquire about that you can have your customer service managers, email, and track. So, really it’s just about managing data, streamlining the data, and getting it back to your customers as quickly as possible so they see results and they see that they’re getting the best customer service that they can from their terminal. Jim: Yeah. It sure sounds to me like if you start down this path and basically transform your operations, then you can move very much from being operations-driven to much more market-driven, more nimble, and overall, it’s going to increase your capacity. So, that sounds like, you know, something that our folks in the storage terminal industry may want to look into more. And speaking of looking into, you know, there’s a terminal capacity section on Emerson.com. But beyond that, what’s the best way for our listeners to reach you and where can they go for more information? Thomas: The best way to get ahold of me is my LinkedIn profile. I have my email and phone number information there or you can message me anytime. But if you want to get more product information or see what ESI offers, go to www.energy-solutions.com and you will be on the front page of ESI and what we offer, not only for terminals, but also pipeline terminals in pipeline companies as well. So, like I said, we focus in the midstream. Jim: Well, that gives our listeners place to go for more information. And that’s really great. Well, thank you so much for joining us today, Thomas. Thomas: Thank you, Jim, for having me and let me have a little conversation about this. -End of transcript-
20 minutes | a month ago
Podcast: Avoiding Tank Overfills and Optimizing Storage Terminal Capacity
One of the most common and dangerous hazards that can occur at a tanks and terminals site is a tank overfill incident. Industry data indicates that statistically, one overfill occurs every 3,300 fillings (Marsh and McLennan Companies, 2011). Any incident can result in fines and irreparable & environmental damage. Investing in tank overfill prevention with the right instrumentation and control systems or increasing terminal capacity is your first defense to safer operations and reputation preservation. Modern overfill prevention is based on a holistic perspective and an understanding of the many elements that contribute to tank overfill conditions. Key elements of modern overfill prevention strategy include: Conducting a risk assessment Following procedures documented in an overfill management system Education Use of appropriate equipment Non-adjustable alarm points Appropriate commissioning procedures such as Site Acceptance Testing (SAT) Periodic maintenance and proof-testing Management of change In this episode of our Optimizing Storage Terminal Capacity podcast series, Rich Ireland, a 40-year sales veteran and North American Sales Manager for Rosemount Tank Gauging systems, touches upon the practical steps and solutions storage terminal operators can introduce to improve overfill prevention. Listen in for tank gauging and overfill prevention solutions covering all storage tank types and installation conditions. Rosemount Tank Gauging Systems support everything from independent additional level measurements as part of a SIL 2 or SIL 3 Automatic Overfill Prevention System (AOPS). Using the same types of proven devices for tank gauging measurement operations and overfill prevention simplifies training, procurement, parts handling, engineering and installation. Visit the Optimize Terminal Capacity section on Emerson.com for more on ways to gain increased visibility into your terminal operations to maximize volume capacity, turnover, and revenue capture. Transcript Jim: Hey, everybody. I’m Jim Cahill with another edition from our Increasing Terminal Capacity Series. Today, I’m joined by Rich Ireland, who is a sales manager here in North America responsible for Rosemount Tank Gauging Products. We’ll be discussing tank overfill prevention strategies. Welcome, Rich. Rich: Good morning, Jim. How are you? Jim: I’m doing just great. Well, I guess to begin, can you share with the listeners your educational background and path to your current position here at Emerson? Rich: Yep. Yeah, I sure can. So, I started in this industry about 40 years ago after going to just a small technical college, and I started in a technician side of things as a field tech. I worked a lot in the motor controls industry initially, PLC work, that kind of thing, and then I got into a little more technical stuff with weighing systems. So, I worked in that arena for quite a while designing and programming weighing systems, and then started a manufacturer’s rep firm. And actually, was what was called Saab back then, which was the radar gauge system that is now Emerson’s Rosemount Tank Gauging System after an acquisition. So, after the joys of selling that equipment for so long, I decided to join the company so to speak. About 17 years ago I came on as the Eastern regional manager. I’ve been working ever since. I do a lot of work, as we all do, in our roles with API, which is the American Petroleum Institute that sets standards. There are several conferences that we attend on a regular basis. I’ve done presentations for the International School of Hydrocarbon Measurement, which is called the ISHM, so specializing in tank gauging, overfill prevention, and Emerson has put a lot of emphasis on safety and overfill, preventing overfills. So with the release of our latest fourth-generation gauging system, we’ve really tried to swing for the bleachers on that. Jim: Well, that’s a nice, varied background and a lot of getting your hands into different technologies. That’s really great. I guess, for our listeners who may not be all that familiar with tank gauging, can you give us a description of Emerson’s Rosemount Tank Gauging solution? Rich: I can. And I like to start by saying a lot of people sort of take tanks for granted. As they’re driving through metropolitan areas, they’re looking at the buildings and the traffic, or if they’re taxing to their gate in an airport, they just see jets and luggage wagons, and for me, I see tanks. There are like 500,000 or more aboveground storage tanks in North America just by it alone. And there’s a lot of stuff in those tanks, gasoline, chemicals, the glycol de-icer for your wings, and all that stuff is in those tanks. And the situation is we want that stuff to move to where it needs to go, into your gas tank or onto the aircraft. Every time you move product, you have to refill the tank. And so, we can’t take these things for granted. And they’re very large. They hold a lot of product, oftentimes very non-hazardous, but in most cases, it’s not something that you want on the ground. So, we started our business several years ago as Saab, working in primarily the financial side of it in the sense of inventory management, accurate measurement, pulling all of that information together, making calculations. In hydrocarbons, it’s all traded in volume, and you have to convert level and temperatures, and come up with what’s called a standard volume. So, it’s all traded at 60 degrees Fahrenheit around the world. So, we developed that system with radar and we invented that, so…and then in 2001, I believe it was, Emerson acquired the company, put it under the Rosemount [brand], and we’ve been the center of excellence ever since. We built all the radar design and manage the radar program for Emerson and Rosemount. And we’re in our fourth-generation gauging system, so, of course, with the eye on the fact that we’ve always been an inventory-type system, there’s a lot of other deliverables that we can do. We have a very reliable measurement technology. It’s very accurate, very low maintenance, and there’s no reason why it cannot also aid in the prevention of overfills. It’s a nightmare for an operator to have overfills. If they’re relying on old, outdated equipment or they have poor operational procedures, it’s very easy for that product to come out of the tank and next thing you know, it’s on the ground and it’s a reportable spill, and nobody is happy. So, we tried to wrap in a lot of those deliverables to our 4th-generation system called the 5900S-based Rosemount Tank Gauging System. And so, that’s the 30,000-foot view of what we do. But it’s amazing, overfills can occur, and there was a study done by Marsh & McLennan that said 1 out of every 3,300 filling operations worldwide can result in an overfill, but they’re so preventable. And we knew that. It was really low-hanging fruit for us. Jim: Can you describe a little bit more about that radar gauge’s role in overfill prevention? Rich: First and foremost, there’s a concept that we want to try to instill on customers, awareness of their level, the product level, we call it the basic process control system. So, if you have an accurate level, I mean, it’s what we rely on when we ride down the road, look at our gas meter and say, “How much gas do we have? Are we going to get to our destination? How much gas can I sit in the tank?” The primary thing with the best duty cycle that you’re relying on all day long is your primary measurement. Even though that is not your emergency alert, it’s the first intelligence you have in your tank of what is in there and what you’re doing with it. Is it moving? Is the product moving up? Is the product moving down? So, we came from that standpoint. We do very accurate radar level measurement, which means we send radar waves from the top of the tank down to the liquid, and we can tell exactly how much free space is between the liquid and the roof, and then we calculate level. And then with that, there’s no reason why we can’t even add a second unit, second radar unit. They’re extremely reliable. There’s no maintenance to them. They don’t need to be recalibrated. You set them and forget them. If they’re put in correctly, they will work for many, many years trouble-free. So, we wanted to use that as a concept for launching the two-in-one system, which I know we’re going to talk about a little bit. Jim: You know, when you talked about the spill on the ground and being an, you know, environmental matter, it sounds like it’s also a safety matter, especially in hydrocarbon, you know, build with hydrocarbons. So, what are some of the overfill standards and how does this radar technology help storage terminal operators meet these standards? Rich: Yeah. Good question. Worldwide, the operating standard for hydrocarbon industry is the American Petroleum Institute in the sense that they set standards. It’s obviously a group of operators, it’s regulators, it’s people like ourselves, experts in the industry, and manufacturers that get together on a regular basis and look at everything from how a tank is built, to how it’s measured, to the overfill prevention standards. And the concept there is giving the operators several what they call categories of protection. And with each category, you kind of get rewarded. It’s based on, you know, how… We talked about trying to maximize capacity. You know, tanks are not an inexpensive asset. They’re very expensive and tank storage space is expensive. And so, the higher you can fill it safely and the faster you can fill it is on your bottom line, okay? It rolls right down to the bottom line. And the less manpower you use to do that is advantageous. So, that’s kind of our concept, working around eliminating the uncertainties around filling and emptying tanks. And we do that with our technologies, obviously. Jim: Okay. And a minute ago you had mentioned the two-in-one technology. So, how does this play in, it sounds like a safety instrumented function or a safety loop or, you know, compliance with the API standard? Rich: So, two-in-one is what it sounds like. We have two radars housed in one unit. They’re totally separate from one another. They don’t even know each other exists. They just park in the same housing. They can measure the same…to the same surface through the same opening in the tank. So, therefore, the installation cost is halved. There’s really one opening in the tank…because every time you may not have enough nozzle space on the tank. Where do I fit this thing? Where do I put my secondary overfill prevention device? Well, now, I can put it in the same…basically the same hole, drop it in, it’s there, it’s shooting the product. That’s a concept that came out of our marine capabilities. We do marine tankers all over the world for Emerson for a long time. And we are doing really well with that. So, it gives an independent layer of protection using the most reliable technology out there, which is the radar-based technology. So, it’s not trying to back up a car with a buggy whip, you know, horse and carriage in a buggy whip, it’s using the best-of-class technology for both the operational awareness of the tank and the overfill prevention in the tank. Jim: Okay. So, just so it makes sense for me, with two independent radars, so one is doing your basic operational where the current level is that may feed the distributed control system or whatever the system running there. And the second one, that’s performing the role of the overfill prevention, you know, the level safety highs or whatever the right terminology. Is that right? Rich: Yes. You have it correct. It’s typically called an independent layer of protection, and it provides that. It provides it in the most reliable way, and it’s cost-effective for installation. There are operational benefits both in maintenance, lower maintenance, testing, because testing must be done on these overfill systems. And there’s also benefits to how high…you know, the reward I was telling you about, when you do the most state-of-the-art type of system, you can run your levels up much closer to your critical high level. These are called levels of concerns. They’re pointed out in the API standard, and they’re set based on a time frame. And if you have the best-in-class system and you can show and demonstrate your response times, you can run very, very high maximum levels in your tank very safely I might add. Jim: So, Rich, what about from an installation standpoint? You had mentioned the two-in-one and the one nozzle in there. Are there any other installation considerations? Rich: Yeah, there’s actually one thing that’s very big with Emerson and delivering value to our customers is the Emerson WirelessHART network. We have that capability in both the primary level in inventory measurement, as well as overfill. And it’s in the latest edition of API 2350, which is Edition 5. It’s actually addressed very clearly in there that the network, the IEC standard that we conform to is an acceptable standard for this type of measurement because the idea is they want people to install overfill prevention, and they don’t want the barrier of the wires and the installation costs being the thing that stops them from doing it. So, it’s encouraging them to put these systems out there. And we can do that. All that is covered on our tank gauging site, which we’ll talk about, all the downloadable information. And we can always help you. We’ll come out there and do a survey if needed to make sure it fits your facility. Jim: Well, that sounds like it makes it much easier if you don’t have the wires and have to, you know, run them that way to go in with wireless. Are there any examples of, like, what might be typical without the technology or using the technology? You know, what kind of capacity increases people might see? Rich: Yeah, it’s a little bit of a calculation because, I don’t know, every tank is you know, smaller or larger in diameter, these kinds of things. But if you use best-in-class technology and you…API assigned you sort of a number of minutes of flow into the tank between what you call your maximum working height and your cutoff point. And if you have, say, the lowest level of technology, which is Category 0 at this point, they’re telling you to leave 60 minutes at your flow rate. That could be a lot of product between…so that could be 5%, 8%, 10% of your tank volume is sitting there empty just as a safety margin whereas when you go to Category 3, which is the tightest system, the assignment is 15 minutes. So, it’s giving you much better throughput capacity in your tank. And then in addition to that, there’s an option for you to demonstrate your response time in real terms. And you can go as…then it comes out of the time domain and says, okay, we’ll let you go as high as you can within 2 inches of your critical high with the most state-of-the-art system. So, it’s a typical bonus right there. It’s clear as day that you can use the state-of-the-art equipment, do a little bit of homework by documentation, and then bring your tank capacity within 2 inches of its critical high. Jim: Wow. That sounds like definite capacity increase, and I guess people could calculate what that is for their particular tanks, and the volumes, and that kind of thing. And you had mentioned earlier a little bit about the operational and maintenance improvements. Can you maybe contrast it with if you’re not using radar level technology versus if you are from operational and maintenance standpoints? Rich: Yes, certainly. Now all my friends in the terminal business, you know, every company has different ways of doing things and there’s the old school way. And the typical, common stated, I wouldn’t say state-of-the-art, but the standard today is basically electromechanical switches for overfill prevention. So, the switch is sitting there with a float on it. And these requirements go out twice a year and basically exercise that device with a cable making sure it’s going to mechanically function. You’re really not testing the full functionality of the unit by doing that, but you are getting some proof-test and you have to record that and keep it in your files. And that means you’re conforming. Now this also goes down to the local regulators. I mean, your local Department of Environmental Protection is going to have certain requirements based on API standards in many cases. Sometimes more stringent, sometimes less. The radar system now, especially when you have our two-in-one system, you can do this from the control room. You can do simulated and actual automatic proof-testing with reports. So, manpower requirement drops significantly. Your operational certainty of throughput and reporting is nearly guaranteed if you operate…if you do this thing on an organized basis. But it can be all done from the control room. So, amazing savings there. Nobody’s climbing tanks, nobody’s near tanks. The less people that are up on top of the tanks, the safer everything is. You’re safe for your operation. Jim: Wow. So, we’ve hit on increased capacity or throughput through the terminal, the operational and maintenance, and then the personnel safety side of it. So, it sounds like a lot of really good advantages for going that route. Rich: I agree. And you know, I think it’s evident. It just takes a little bit of wrapping your head around the concept, but it’s proven itself time and time again now. We have several systems installed operating…delivering value to the customers. Jim: Well, this has been great. I know I’ve learned a few things here along the way, and I hope our listeners have too. So, I guess, to close things out, how can our listeners connect with you and where can they go on our website for more information? Rich: The easiest way, and I actually did this myself to make sure that I was giving you the best, quick…I know where to go, I mean, it’s in my browser already, right? So, I can find it. But I was playing customer, I just put in any search tool, Rosemount Tank Gauging, and it popped right up to our site. No problem. That’s the easiest, best way because otherwise, it’s a word salad of URL to find it and dig down. But if you put Rosemount Tank Gauging there, you’ll find it. We have a lot of information. One thing that I wanted to mention with this system is that we also support safety instrumented systems. So, SIL 2, SIL 3, it’s a certified system if that’s needed in your application. We find that a lot of times around large liquified petroleum tanks, LNG tanks, we do that kind of measurement. That information there all the way down to the safety manuals in the certificate, we can show you the math behind our SIL approvals. Jim: Well, that’s great. So, whether meeting API standards or if it’s in a safety instrumented system-type application, it’s good to know that it has the versatility for both of those. Thank you so much for joining us today. And I hope our listeners got some benefit out of it. Rich: Thanks, Jim, for having me. I always love talking about tank gauging, so it’s great. Anytime. -End of Transcript-
23 minutes | 2 months ago
Podcast: Improving Fiscal Measurements and Loss Control
Terminals, the storage and transportation hub for oil & gas and petrochemicals, are critical to the overall infrastructure and flow of products to consumers and businesses. They form a vital link in global supply chains increasingly driven by a landscape of boutique products and just-in-time logistics. “There’s probably about 2- or 3-days buffer in the flow of goods [in terminals supply chain] before we would start to experience interruptions as customers.” – Marc Buttler In this episode of our Optimizing Storage Terminal Capacity podcast series, Marc Buttler, Innovation Director at Emerson Automation Solutions and longtime veteran of Micro Motion Coriolis flowmeter technology, addresses the process challenges faced by terminal operators that relate to fiscal measurements. Addressing solutions that can help you mitigate fiscal risk by balancing terminal inventory and modernizing your terminal storage facility with efficient and informed decisions. Visit the Optimize Terminal Capacity section on Emerson.com for on ways to maximize capacity by mitigating product custody and loss control risks through more accurate and reliable fiscal measurements. Transcript Jim: Hi, everyone. I’m Jim Cahill, and welcome to another podcast in our Storage Terminal Capacity Series. Today I’m joined by Marc Buttler to discuss ways to mitigate product custody and loss control risks to help you improve your bottom line and minimize fiscal uncertainty. Welcome. Marc. Marc: Thank you, Jim. It’s great to spend time with you today. Appreciate the opportunity. Jim: Yeah. Likewise. So, I guess to get us started, Marc, can you share some of your educational background and the career path to where you are today as the application innovation director for the flow solutions part of our measurement business? Marc: Well, sure. I’d be glad to. My education is in engineering. I got a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Colorado, and I continue to live here in Colorado and I work at the Boulder headquarters for our Micro Motion business unit of the Emerson measurement group, where we build Coriolis meters. The work history that I have includes 33 years working here with the Micro Motion Coriolis meters, but in the middle of that, I took a diversion from working with Emerson to go work for the U.S. Department of Commerce at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, where I worked in the Office of Weights and Measures for about three years, found that I missed working in Boulder and with Coriolis meters so much that I returned here and here I am today. Jim: Wow. That’s a fascinating diversion there into that area. So, let’s get into terminals. Can you describe some of the challenges faced by terminal operation managers? Marc: Sure. I’d be glad to. You know, terminal managers have a big job to complete, and I don’t know if a lot of us who are just laymen, driving around, living our lives every day really can appreciate just how critical terminals are to our overall infrastructure and how essential the flow of goods in order for us to be able to receive everything from gasoline and diesel fuel for our cars to jet fuel for our airplanes to milk for our table. All of these rely on terminal operations to be running smoothly. And the room for error is not as great as many of us might really think. There’s probably only about two- or three-days’ buffer in the flow of goods before we would all start to experience interruptions as consumers. So, I think we all probably underappreciate terminal operators and some of the challenges they face, which include, first and foremost, making sure that they keep track of all the valuable goods that they deal with in their terminals. And they have a term they use for this; they call overs and shorts. And when they have overs and shorts, their terminal inventory doesn’t balance, and that creates problems that they then need to go and troubleshoot in order to keep the terminal operating efficiently and make sure that the fiscal risk is being managed in a way that’s going to keep the terminal operating. The other thing that they face is a responsibility, especially when they deal with hazardous materials to watch out for any potential leaks, because although they’re rare, when they happen the consequences can be severe. So, they use sophisticated leak detection systems and methods as part of their terminal operation to determine whether there might be any potential for a leak that they need to investigate, and that will often cause the terminal to shut down if there’s even a hint. So, they need very good terminal leak detection systems to be able to detect any leak without false alarms that cause interruptions in service. The other thing that is a real challenge for them is that they’re running constantly. So, it’s difficult to perform upgrades and keep up with the latest technology without making careful plans. And so, when they do upgrade systems, they need a way of doing it very quickly so that the terminal operation is not interrupted. And one of the other challenges that they often will face as a result of measurement problems are disputes with customers. So, if a customer receives a batch of product and there’s a disagreement about the quantity, that can result in a rather complicated dispute that will lead to troubleshooting and possible legal action in order to resolve the dispute, plus regardless of who comes out on top of any kind of dispute resolution, they’re never a good thing for anybody and they can ultimately erode the reputation of a terminal and terminals do get reputations for measurement accuracy, fairness, safety, and even reliability. One of the most important things that will guide people who are customers of terminals is how efficiently they run, how long you have to wait in line to either drop off or pick up your load, and that will ultimately be determined by how reliable your systems are and whether they have a lot of downtime due to troubleshooting and measurement issues that have to be corrected. Another challenge that they face are regulatory compliance, and a lot of industries have strict regulations that they have to build a mass of documentation to show that they’re in compliance with. And that can be a bit of a distraction from day-to-day operation if you don’t have the tools at your fingertips to make that task easier, plus those regulations are constantly evolving. So, you have to stay ahead of things and really know what you’re doing in order to avoid getting caught by surprise with the most recent regulatory changes. And then the last thing I’ll mention as a challenge that are faced by many terminal operation managers is maintaining the quality of the actual product in your tanks and storage. And that can be really important, especially if you’re supporting critical industries like the air travel industry where even the slightest bit of contamination in jet A fuel can cause an entire tank to need to go be reprocessed. And, of course, if you lose a tank, you’re going to have an interruption in service as well. So, maintaining the quality of your product that you are receiving, and selling is also a critical challenge faced by these operators. Jim: Wow. That sounds like they’re critical in the supply chain and for us as consumers would miss them greatly. And it sounds like most of those challenges you just described that measurements are really important and that fiscal measurements and custody transfers of some of it. So, what have been some traditional ways of performing these fiscal measurements and what’s been some of the drawbacks? Marc: Well, the fiscal measurements are generally performed by flow meters and then those measurements are verified by maintaining a good monitoring of the inventory balance within terminal itself and individual tankage. So, they use level measurement and tank strapping to keep track what the instantaneous inventory within the terminal is, and then they use that to go and verify that what they thought they had is indeed what they have. And that’s where my reference to the term overs and shorts comes from. In comparing the official measurement that’s been made by flow meters to what they think they have in their inventory, they will end up with these overs and shorts, which ends up being pretty much the main metric that they use above all else to determine how well their measurements are doing. Now, some of the older technologies that have been used for years and years include mechanical-type meters that have rotating parts like turbine meters and PD meters, which are very common. The problems that these have sometimes are related to that mechanical motion and how it can be effected by changing fluid properties or debris or contamination that unexpectedly comes through the pipeline entering or exiting the terminal, and that can have a permanent effect on the measurement accuracy of those types of devices. So, they address that by performing an in-situ check of their measurements pretty consistently. What’s called proving is when they bring in a separate device or sometimes, they’ll even invest in having a stationary prover device that is used to check the meters. Now, the prover is they’re tied to the chain of traceability, which gives them credibility by linking it to the national standards. And they build this chain of traceability by calibrating the prover against other traceable standards all the way back to the national standards that we keep in Washington at NIST. And by maintaining that chain of traceability with good measurement practices, they can use the prover to check the meter, and then they use the meter to measure the fiscal measurements that are used for billing and invoicing. So, it’s a complex system and a network of interconnected measurements that results in the measurements that determine what people are paying each other as product is traded. The proving exercise will reveal when meters are changing, and that’s a bad thing. I mean, it’s very common for old-style mechanical turbine and PD meters to change all the time either because of changing fluid properties or just because of wear and tear over time. So, that’s somewhat expected. But what the industry is learning now is that newer technologies don’t expose them to that kind of constant change and measurement accuracy, and Coriolis meters are a good example because they tend to be consistent over long periods of time and over widely ranging fluid properties and conditions and flow rates. So, that just builds general sense of confidence in those measurements because if the proving exercise is showing you that your measurement accuracy is stable and consistent, then you don’t have to worry about what’s going on in between those events where you’re checking against the prover. Jim: What is it about Coriolis technology that makes it, I guess, able to hold up and be more accurate over time compared with some of these traditional ways? Marc: Well, first and foremost, just at a very fundamental level, a Coriolis meter does not have rotating moving parts. And the technology is very, very sensitive to flow, but because it doesn’t have any parts which wear or tear or gaps between rotating elements where product can slip through without being measured, it measures the mass flow rate of everything that goes through it. And the measurement doesn’t change because the meter’s not being changed by the flow going through it like other types of mechanical meters. The other thing that Coriolis meters offer is advanced diagnostics, which are not possible with older technologies that stem from the ability of the advanced electronics, which are attached to them to interpret many different signals. And that’s also how the flow meters can be used for either mass flow or volume flow measurement. A lot of these terminals need to be able to measure in either mass or volume as they’re receiving liquid and gas products, and sometimes both depending on the products and how the products are traded on the market. And so, Coriolis meters have the ability to do both because they can measure mass and density and volume all at the same time. And that provides yet one other advantage in terms of the flexibility of being able to use the same type of device for all your applications, whether you’re required to report the totals in volume units or in mass units. Jim: So, it sounds like the newer technology of Coriolis versus PD or turbine meters or something gets you a lot more reliable measurements, accurate measurements over time. So, how did those diagnostics, the smart meter verification work along with meter provers in this way to get better accuracy or meet the requirements for the fiscal measurements? Marc: Well, that’s a great question, Jim, and I’m glad you asked because it gives me an opportunity point out that meter proving is used for any type of meter, whether it’s a Coriolis meter or a PD or turbine meter or any other type of meter would also be proved. And the reason for that is because the fiscal risk of not maintaining that chain of traceability is too great. The big difference that people are finding between Coriolis meters and other types of meters is that the philosophy of meter proving which evolved over the last 100-plus years has been based on the idea that a meter gets built and you don’t know how it’s going to measure until you’ve installed it and started using it and checked it with a prover. And furthermore, the expectation is that it’s going to be different tomorrow than it was today. So, meter proving is something that PD and turbine meters have always relied on to constantly maintain accuracy. And without meter provers, operators would have no way of maintaining a meter factor adjustment for those types of older meters that they could be confident in. But with a Coriolis meter, what they’re finding is that meter proving is more of a formality. So, instead of relying on meter proving to come up with today’s new meter factor, a Coriolis meter, when it’s proved is usually more of an exercise of just demonstrating what we expected, which was that the meter factor for today is the same that it was yesterday. So, it becomes less of an essential part of the measurement adjustment that turbine and PD meters rely on and more of a verification. Now, smart meter verification diagnostic is something that our Micro Motion meters include, which is an advanced diagnostic tool that can be used to detect those very rare instances because even a Coriolis meter is not completely devoid of potentials for damage. So, for example, if you have a case where you fill the meter full of water and it freezes solid, and that permanently deforms the tubes inside in a way that changes the structure of those tubes, the metal structure by plastic deformation, or if you were to have chemical that’s not compatible with the metal and actually corrodes the metal or erodes the metal, that would be something very unusual, but it can happen. And so, smart meter verification is a diagnostic tool that’s designed to very easily and very quickly detect some of those rare cases where something actually that could impact the measurement of the meter has happened. So, if you combine that together with the proving exercise, what you get is a very easy test because the smart meter verification test takes almost no time at all. It costs nothing to run after it’s been installed and set up, and it can run automatically without interrupting your process. You can continue to flow normally and run your process as you would and it will still give you a valid answer of whether damage has occurred to the meter or not. So, combine that with the proving exercise and you have an additional tool that can give you confidence that none of those unexpected things that could have affected the meter factor or the accuracy of the meter in between the times that you’ve been able to test it with a prover for good traceable verification and that gives you even more confidence in the measurement that’s happening day in and day out from one second to the next at all times. And so, operators are able to use that additional confidence to actually save money and improve the overall terminal operations availability by spreading out the interval that they have to prove the meters in a way that saves them overall cost of proving, and also avoids the interruption that proving can sometimes bring to their overall operations. Jim: Yeah. The picture you painted, I just envisioned that operations and maintenance gets a whole lot easier, plus you have much more confidence in the measurement. Like you said, it’s a formality when you go to prove because they’re so in, they’re so all those big challenges that you talked about in getting more accuracy in the product custody and loss control risks and all that seems like it just makes things run a lot more efficiently. So, that’s a great discussion. So, where can our listeners go to connect with you and go and learn more about opportunities for better measurements and more efficient operations? Marc: Well, there are plenty of places they can go, but before I answer that, I just want to add one more thought in response to what you just said, which is that yeah, as I said, it couldn’t be easier to operate Coriolis meters compared to their older technologies. But part of the reason for that is because they require no scheduled maintenance. There’s nothing you need to do on a regular basis. And even the smart meter verification is only a check which can be scheduled to run automatically. So, that can all be done in background and doesn’t need to be done manually. But to answer your question about where to go to learn more, I would offer that you can visit the emerson.com website. And, in particular, if you want to hear more in this podcast series, emerson.com/terminal-capacity is your ticket to that. But if you want to learn specifically about Coriolis meters, there’s even a shortcut that you can use, which would be micromotion.com, which takes you to that part of the emerson.com web environment, where you’ll immediately arrive on the Coriolis meter webpage and you can learn more there. There’s lots of educational tools as well as information about our products. And if you have a direct question for me, you can reach me at my email address, which is email@example.com. Or you can look me up on LinkedIn and just search for my name, Marc Buttler, that’s Marc with a C and Buttler with two Ts. Jim: Well, thank you so much for giving our listeners ways to connect with you and where to go on the site. And I’ll echo what you said that in the Coriolis meter section of the website, there’s great videos, there’s great basic explainers, everything else. So, if you don’t know a lot about their operation, really great learning resources in there and also the optimize terminal capacity area for this and other technologies to really drive more optimized storage terminal operations. So, Marc, thank you so much for joining us today. Marc: Well, it’s been my pleasure, Jim, and thank you for inviting me. End of transcript.
15 minutes | 2 months ago
Podcast: Optimizing Terminals Through Improved Scheduling
Today’s terminal operator faces many pressures from the market environment. Customer expectations have increased due to the rise of e-commerce. This trend is encouraging operators to provide faster, transparent service to their customers, while ensuring repeatability across their workflows. Operators need to maximize terminal throughput meet these higher expectations. Improving customer support and order transparency is becoming a common and necessary challenge for these operators in the tanks and terminals Industry. “Surprisingly, many terminals are still operating without an integrated terminal management system to plan and manage loading and unloading operations and – more importantly – to provide visibility and management of the terminal’s inventory and commercial activity. Terminal management software is not new, but many terminal operators do not realize the value implementing modern terminal management software can provide for their operation and overall business.” – Aaron Boettcher, Vice President Marketing at Emerson Automation Solutions, Remote Automation Solutions Relying on the tradition manual operations instead of highly automated operations can translate into missed orders, slow response times, lack of onboarding knowledge and missed opportunity for optimizing performance. In this episode of our Optimizing Terminal Capacity podcast series we interview Thomas Nichley, an expert in tank gauging and custody transfer. He explains how using Emerson’s TerminalScheduler helps drive capacity improvements through the automation of standard operating procedures, and with better scheduling tools for achieving greater labor and asset productivity. Visit the Optimize Terminal Capacity section on Emerson.com for on ways to maximize capacity yield and meet Top Quartile benchmarks through greater volume deployment, inventory turnover and revenue capture. Transcript Jim: Hi, everyone. I’m Jim Cahill and welcome to another podcast in our Storage Terminal Capacity Series. Today, I’m joined by Thomas Nichley to discuss ways to achieve greater labor and asset productivity through storage terminal optimization. Welcome, Thomas. Thomas: Thank you, Jim. Jim: Let’s start by, can you share some of your educational background and your career path to where you are today managing sales as part of Emerson’s Energy Solutions Enterprise Liquid Terminal Products business? Thomas: Sure, love too. Background was a local here in Houston, graduated from U of H [University of Houston], went straight into the oil and gas industry as an expediter. And, you know, worked my way up into sales for one of the local distributors here doing valve actuation. And that’s how I was able to move into Emerson under the Bettis-Shafer group. So, started my midstream life there with high pressure actuation sales for natural gas pipelines. And from there, I was able to migrate into instrumentation for Rosemount Tank Gauging, which got me into the terminal space. And once there learned a lot about tank gauging, and custody transfer and a lot of the business background as well as operational background for terminals, which then moved me into an opportunity to join ESI, or Energy Solutions, with Emerson and start working with the liquid terminal products business, focusing on basically the market of third party liquid terminals and hosting solutions for optimization and ordered cash. Jim: Well, that’s a nice varied background. And now, with that experience in the midstream industry, and I guess, tank farms in particular, how do you see that industry space evolving? Thomas: Midstream industry, or tank farms in particular, are evolving because a lot of them came out of being refinery tank farms originally, and then evolved into being able to move products through products and services for customers that ended up selling them to the third party terminals. So, in the world that we live in with Amazon, customer support and order transparency are critical now more than ever. And in doing so, I think a lot of terminals have to look at their systems they have in place, which are mostly manual in operation and find ways to move them to adapt to being able to streamline workflows, automate information, and be able to portray that information to customers, most specifically, inventories, and orders. So, that’s kind of the big evolution there, is the drive to take care of customers, while being transparent in what’s happening at the terminal today. Jim: That’s interesting. You said a lot of them are very manual in what they do today. So, how is scheduled planning typically done today? Thomas: So, a funny story I have is, one time I was talking to a specific customer or an opportunity and I met with some of their schedulers. And I said, “How do you guys go about scheduling today?” And one guy pulled out his pad of paper and said, “I look at what the customer orders coming in today are, look at what the nominations would be. I start writing them down. And I start planning them out based upon what product it may be, what tank it’s coming from, and what location it’s sending to whether it was truck, rail or dock. And then I plan it that way on a pad of paper.” And then I asked them, “Well, what do you do if there’s a change in the order or the order got cancelled? Or there was an issue with the system that the order had to get pushed?” He ripped a piece of paper off and said, “I start all over again.” That was like, wow, that’s very manual. Another time customers or I saw a green board of Velcro where they moved the names of the docks and the locations. They moved it around the green board showing what the order was doing, what product or customer it was and what location it was going. And that was another way. And then of course, there’s whiteboard. And then of course, more recent, the spreadsheet, where they’re using a spreadsheet that has some macros or some algorithms built into it, where they’re able to move it around and adjust it. And then the question is, “Well, what happens if the guy who knows how to use this retires and you break a cell?” “Well, we’d be in trouble, or we’d have to figure out how to fix it. So, we don’t use a lot of those cells for that reason or we just protect the spreadsheet and keep people from doing it.” So, there’s a gradual movement out of the manual system by moving into a spreadsheet, but even still, it’s very manually input, you’re still not capturing what’s really happening within the terminal, I guess you would say, in a snapshot of what’s happening. And it’s all just driven by communication, input emails, and phone calls. Jim: Well, definitely sounds like there are opportunities to improve if you’re starting over with a piece of paper, or erasing a whiteboard and putting things, sounds like there’s opportunities to drive some capacity improvements. So, what are some of the ways that you can drive capacity improvements through better scheduling? Thomas: The key is going to be driving optimization of your lineups. And the reason I say that is we track line fill with TerminalScheduler. And that’s paramount, because knowing what was in the pipeline from a pre-movement, or post-movement is critical because that is going to be able to allow the scheduler to see what has happened, or what’s going to happen, and how it will impact the next order, and how that lineup will work. Especially in very…a lot of terminals have very complicated manifold systems; you’ll have over 100 MOVs in a pit and they’ll go every which way. It’s a basically a spaghetti bowl of pipes. So, being able to give your labor or your operations the ability to pre-plan the movement, select the lineup, base it upon whatever constraints may be there. Say you have a maintenance constraint, you have a pump down, you have a valve out of service, or you have a tank that’s being shut down or being cleaned, you need to know these things ahead of time. And that’s what the system will allow. So, that optimization can drive a lineup that is optimized to take the quickest path forward to get to the delivery point in the most efficient time. Then you can project that to your operations, so they have a plan of action. And the great thing about the system is it only takes a couple of seconds to design that and do that based upon what your number of orders are, what your products are, product compatibility. And the other big key factor out of this is reducing or eliminating altogether contamination, because we know contamination is a big financial killer. For if you get a tank contaminated, that’s hundreds of thousands of dollars of product that’s just been lost. If you move diesel into gasoline, that’s a bad deal. So, these are the things we want to be able to reduce. And we call it fat finger proofing or human error proofing. But really, it’s just getting better optimization, it’s using information that can help you move and operate quicker and more effectively, thus increasing the yield of your terminal because you’re able to get a few more movements out because you know how your day is going to plan. Jim: Yeah, it sounds like you’re even automating some of the standard operating procedures just so those mistakes aren’t made that can be very expensive in terms of just solving the issue as well as, you know, the time lost having to deal with it and get back on track. So, you had mentioned TerminalScheduler as a way to do this automation and manage things and deal with the changes that come in. So, how does the TerminalScheduler integrate with other platforms and systems to drive these improvements in efficiency? Thomas: Yeah, it’s the system that can interface to your SCADA system, thus pulling the historian from your PIs or pulling history from the PI server, and being able to use that information to derive what’s happened in your lines, what’s happening in your tanks. But it also can connect to customer nomination portals, such as T4, Synthesis and others to be able to pull those nominations in that create the orders that need to move through the terminal. So, now you’re getting some streamlining of information coming into the tool, and you’re streamlining information that’s gonna be projecting out. Because one thing we’re working towards is to be able to make this project out operational or work orders to say, a handheld device for your field operations guys to get their lineups ahead of time. This is something we’re working with right now with a customer to be able to do. And I think that’s, once again, driving information to give you the ability to do more within your terminal. And I think that’s why I see it as we’re at the beginning of the evolution. And I think terminals aren’t doing that right now because everything is work order and verbally driven and not so just sending information, receiving information, validating, checking and balancing. So, these are key attributes that terminal schedule will be able to provide when interfacing to other tools in the field. Jim: Yeah, it sounds like a lot of opportunity in there to improve those processes. I was just curious of folks, maybe anecdotally, that have gone down this path from a very manual approach to incorporating some of these tools for automation. Any stories you can share on what they’ve seen as far as improvements? Thomas: Anecdotally, I think a lot of times when we show this product and we get customers in front of it, they immediately see the value when we show lineup optimization. They immediately raise their eyebrows and go, “That’s a game changer.” Because what I think a lot of customers think about when you bring in some of these systems is you’re bringing a system in that might replace them, or might not displace them, but kind of, yeah, displace them. And I think what that does is it makes it a little off putting, but what these schedulers see is, “This is giving me a better tool in the toolbox. And giving me this capability that’s repeatable, that’s in a system, that is I can look at that has a GUI that basically has a digital footprint of my terminal, that has a visual representation, but still giving me the ability to have a spreadsheet view of what my orders are or what the nominations are, is perfect.” And then we even go as far as giving Gantt chart and I tell you what, a lot of people jump on that Gantt chart that you can drop in place as you do your movements. And it can do block outs on what’s happening, say you got to dock out a line. So, I’m getting a lot of feedback that schedulers basically look at this as the better tool in the toolbox to help them do their job. That they will be able to get more done in a day because they’re not going back and forth on emails on the phone with operations, you know, having to double check and verify because things are being validated as you plan. So, these are a lot of the feedback I’m getting for when we show this. Jim: Yeah. And it just seems like if they’re running more efficient optimized operations. It just makes, you know, the people, their working more valuable. And the things they do, that they’re not spending time on activities that aren’t using their brain as much more into just making it a lot more efficient. That sounds like a much better way. So, I’ve learned a lot in this. Thomas, where can our listeners go to connect with you and learn more about opportunities for better scheduling and more efficient operations? Thomas: Best way to find me is gonna be on LinkedIn. All my contact information is listed on it. So, just reach out to me, message me. My cell number’s on there, you can text me. I’d be more than happy to sit down and talk a little bit more and have a conversation about how we can help you schedule a little bit more efficiently. Jim: Great, and I’ll leave a link to your LinkedIn profile in the transcript of this. And everyone, also make sure to visit the Optimized Terminal Capacity section on emerson.com for more on some of these technologies and solutions that will help drive better terminal operations and improve performance. Thomas, thank you so much for joining us today. Thomas: Yeah, it’s my pleasure, Jim. Thanks for having me on. End of transcript
7 minutes | 3 months ago
Storage Terminal Capacity Podcast Series
In March 2020 we were reminded that the Oil and Gas industry can be booming one moment and crashing the next. Companies’ operations staffs took a huge hit last year, where over 100,000 oil, gas and petrochemical workers were laid off. This created additional challenges for operators in maintaining process visibility and performing necessary operations and maintenance activities. The world’s oil storage capacity is improving, but analysts are predicting that it will take several years to recover back to what it was before this recent downturn. Emerson can help you on your journey to terminal profitability, as you pivot and plan for the future. In this Tanks and Terminals Podcast series on Optimizing Terminal Capacity, our experts will address challenges that terminal operators face and offer solutions that can help you more easily meet industry Top Quartile benchmarks and optimize terminal capacity. You will hear how recent digital innovations and applications can help you efficiently manage your operations, increase your labor and asset productivity and ensure greater volume deployment and inventory turnover. We’ll cover topics to: Realize Higher Profit Margins Achieve Greater Labor and Asset Productivity Through Terminal Optimization Achieve Optimal Truck Rail Loading and Unloading Increase Tank Capacity and Reduce Costs Emerson’s Manuel Arroyo, Director, Oil & Gas Industry Programs kicks off this podcast series with host Jim Cahill by highlighting some of the risks & challenges and previews some of the technologies that can help you make the right operational decisions to achieve terminal profitability. Make sure to also visit the Optimize Terminal Capacity section on Emerson.com for more on ways to better manage planning and scheduling activities, operational workflows and processes, inventory calculations and capacity tracking. Transcript Jim: Hello everybody. I am Jim Cahill, and in today’s podcast I want to introduce a new series on optimizing storage terminal capacity. I am joined by Emerson’s Manuel Arroyo to introduce storage terminal optimization, and some of his colleagues you’ll be hearing from in future podcasts in this series. Welcome Manuel. Manuel: Thank you, James. Hi everyone. My name is Manuel Arroyo. I’m the director for the oil and gas industry programs, and a subject matter expert at Emerson Automation Solutions. Welcome to this new podcast series on terminals capacity. From the oil crash, predicted recovery has slowed but is still on demand. Analysts expect global oil demand will take several years for recovery to where we were before March 2020. The world’s storage capacity has decreased due to low demand, and companies are looking to increase their capacity by either building new infrastructure, or through merchant acquisitions. This increased the complexity of their operations and the need to optimize them. Jim: So, Manuel, what do you see as some of the major impact of this slowdown? Manuel: Interesting question, Jim. Where we see our oil and gas business hit the most is in two major sections. One of them, it is the people, that is manpower and means expertise, and the second one is the budget flexibility. Look, just for the first one, over 100,000 oil, gas and petrochemical workers were laid off between March and August in the U.S. alone. This has a huge impact in operations. Just imagine, running operations with half of employees, this has a lot of implications. Let’s start from the commercial side. You are not going to be able to capture all the process activity sometimes. In operations you’re going to see a slowdown in the loading operations obviously and increase safety risk. Jim: Wow, that loss of 100,000 people and trying to figure out how to keep the operations running, maintaining the terminal capacity, that sounds like quite a challenge. So, what are you and your colleagues going to cover in this series? Manuel: My colleagues and I want to inform all of you of the recent innovations in digital technology that can help you to make the right operational decisions. This will streamline your commercial and field operations, reduce safety and financial risk, all this with the end goal to increase your terminal capacity. During this series, we will be covering the following topics: number one, how to streamline the commercial to operations execution cycle, number two, how to increase your labor and asset productivity, number three, achieve optimal loading operations, number four, increase shale capacity, and number five, mitigate costly transfer uncertainties. As you can see, this is more than just storage. It is also about terminal service capacity. Jim: Yeah, it sounds like each one of those topics can drive better capacity or managing the capacity that you have. Could you elaborate a little more on the importance of each of these? Manuel: Sure, Jim. As I pointed earlier, as companies grow to increase capacity, their operations complexity increases as well. They have to manage more contracts, more movements. Also, sometimes the type of movement changes or increases. For example, from only truck loading to truck and rail cars, to truck, rail cars, and barges sometimes. With the right technologies and software, they can realize a lot of benefits from reduced customer compliance, ensure safety, and optimize asset utilizations. But the most relevant improvement is in customer satisfaction and being able to capture more business. Jim: Well, that definitely sounds like a lot of areas that can be optimized, and we look forward to hearing from each of the experts that we’ll be hearing in the future ones. So where can our listeners go to learn more and how would you like listeners to be able to contact you? Manuel: Sure, Jim. The first one is tune into our terminal capacity podcast series, starting this January. You can also search on emerson.com. Look for the oil and gas industry, then go to Transportation and Storage. Click on Terminals and Optimized Capacity. Yeah, it is a long journey, but worth to try it. Or you can contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you. Jim: And I know Manuel, you’re also pretty active in LinkedIn, so feel free to, folks who listen to this, reach out to Manuel that way. And we’ll provide a link there in the transcript. Well, Manuel I want to thank you so much for joining us today and giving us an overview of what’s to come. We look forward to kicking off more of the terminal series as we cross into the new year. And thanks again for joining me today. Manuel: You bet, Jim. Thank you. And thank you everyone. End of transcript
32 minutes | 5 months ago
Safer Terminal Operations with Continuous Corrosion Monitoring Podcast
Many refineries and oil terminals are located beside major stretches of water, either sea or river, to provide a cost-effective transportation route for incoming crude oil and feedstock, and for outing finished products. If left undetected, a hydrocarbon leak resulting from corrosion in a jetty line will go straight into the local water sources causing serious environmental damage to the local ecosystem and to company reputation. Using continuous corrosion monitoring to proactively collect data on pipe integrity over time, operators can avoid environmental incidents, as well as increase operational performance, reduce unplanned outages, limit personnel in hazardous locations, and reduce the need for reactive maintenance. In this storage terminal safety podcast, we are joined by Emerson’s Jake Davies to talk ways we’re helping industry leaders keep an eye on corrosion and erosion with innovative continuous and remote corrosion monitoring technologies Visit the Storage Terminal Safety and the Corrosion & Erosion Monitoring sections on Emerson.com for more on the technologies and solutions to help you drive safer, more reliable, and more efficient terminal operations. Transcript Jim: Hello, everybody. I’m Jim Cahill with the Emerson Automation Experts blog. And as part of our continuing podcast series on enabling storage terminals safety, I’m joined today by Jake Davies. And Jake is a director of Global Product Marketing for Emerson’s Corrosion and Erosion Solutions business. We’ll be discussing ways to monitor for corrosion in storage, terminal, jetty pipelines, and other spots. Welcome, Jake. Jake: Thanks for having me, Jim. Great to be here. Jim: Well, it’s great to be doing this. Let’s begin by having you share with our listeners your educational background and path to your current role. Jake: Sure. Okay. It’s a long path, but it started with, I guess, a formal university education in engineering. I had a little time in industry, not the process industry, but more electronics. And then I went back to university and did a Ph.D. in ultrasonic engineering. And then after that, and in fact, while I was doing my Ph.D., a Ph.D. colleague of mine was researching some corrosion monitoring opportunities. And that actually led, just as I finished my Ph.D., to the formation of a startup company which was called Permasense. So, I joined that after my Ph.D. And really, at that time, we were two people. So, I did a lot of different roles ranging from customer support, design, engineering, supply chain management, production. I used to make some of the equipment myself. So, I really did a lot of roles in that startup as you can imagine. And that startup became very successful. The technology was well adopted by the oil and gas industry. And in fact, that company was acquired by Emerson in 2016. So, that’s when I came into Emerson. And since then, we have joined that acquisition with Emerson’s wider Corrosion and Erosion monitoring portfolio. And effectively, I look after that portfolio in Emerson and now. Oh, and on the way, I did an MBA as well. I forgot to mention that in terms of educational background. So, yeah. I guess quite well-educated, but a lot more experience in, I would say, hands-on getting the job done. I learn more that way I think. Jim: Yeah, it sounds like you’re a full-fledged entrepreneur to, you know, a startup company with two. I can imagine everything from helping drive some sales and supporting the customers and everything probably to pushing a broom at the end of the day to clean the dust down around there. Jake: Yeah. Yeah. I think that sums up the range pretty well, yeah. Jim: Yeah. That’s a tremendous background. So, let’s get into it a little bit. I know one of the things that terminals would be concerned about are hydrocarbon leaks caused by equipment failure and some other things. So, what are some of these types of issues, and what can be done to help mitigate some of these risks? Jake: Yeah, exactly. I mean, most of the time, storage tanks and terminals, in general, are obviously holding and moving dangerous substances ultimately, fluids which, you know, aren’t nice to be in contact with for humans, aren’t nice to release into the environment. And so, clearly, all of the equipment in that terminal fundamentally is there to contain that nasty stuff and prevent it from getting out into the environment and making a mess and damaging things or potentially, some hydrocarbons as an example, extremely flammable. So, we need to do everything in the terminal to contain those fluids. So, we talk a lot about, in the process industry, hydrocarbon containment, but clearly, there are other fluids that may be in tanks and terminals which aren’t necessarily hydrocarbons, but they might still be not particularly nice to get out into the environment. So, those thin bits of metal that make up that equipment, whether that’s piping, vessels, storage tanks, you know, generally, they’re made of metal. And one of the major concerns is if that metal is corroding, it’s getting thinner over time, and eventually, it might get so thin that the fluid contained within leaks to the environment outside. And then, of course, you have huge environmental problems. You’re going to have environmental fines most likely because of the nature of these substances, these fluids. They may be very harmful to personnel or indeed people living in the local community. And so, really containing these fluids is the key. And as I say, the metalwork that make up the equipment of these assets is what is preventing that fluid escaping. And so, we need to be, as operators of these plants, these assets, we need to care about the condition of that infrastructure and corrosion from the inside and indeed, potentially from the outside, from the atmosphere side can, in some cases, under certain conditions, quite quickly damage that infrastructure. And so, what we’re talking about today is how do we actually monitor, how do we understand the health of that equipment such that we can avoid or, at least, detect quickly and early when corrosion is damaging it such that we can prevent such major incidents like loss of hydrocarbon containment? Jim: So, it sounds like there’s obviously safety concerns because highly flammable fluids and all this that environmental leak any of it could subject you to fines, you know, issues in the community, damage to your brand, your company name, and everything from the, you know, negative in all kinds of bad things. So, yeah, it sounds like we definitely want to spot the problems and avoid them. What is it around the jetty pipelines that is a particular area of concern for the storage terminals that have jetties as a way to move product? Jake: Yeah, I think it’s two-fold, one in terms of the environmental impact. Obviously, the jetty tends to, or nearly always is consists of pipework or piping, which is going from the storage tanks on land and linking them with the tanker ships that are coming in and either offloading a product or taking it away again from the terminal. And by definition, those are above water. And so, any leaks that occur in those lines tend to go straight into the water and that makes any subsequent cleanup or, kind of, environmental impact significantly worse than if it happened on land, where typically, you can build raised earthworks, you know, to prevent the fluid leaking. Even if the tank fails, you can still catch the fluid in the locale. And that makes cleanup whilst still involving…and that would still count as a major incident, obviously, if that happened, but if it happens above water, then that escaped fluid, that leaked fluid is, kind of, almost instantly going to start destroying that habitat. So, the impact of the incident tends to be more severe in terms of cleanup and costs. Jim: I’m just thinking about it. What would be the traditional way versus a different approach for monitoring for it to avoid what would be a very bad situation of leaking into open water? Jake: Yeah. A good question. So, in general, for these applications and indeed many others throughout the process industry, we have a 50, 60-year-old approach to trying to understand the equipment health and the equipment integrity when that equipment is faced with this potential to corrode from the inside and that is called manual inspection. So, typically, what happens under that approach is that you send out, kind of, an expert crew of so-called non-disruptive testing or NDT technicians, and they carry with them handheld devices, and they actually access the pipe itself. They may remove any installation to get to the outside of that pipe and they use, typically, an ultrasonic device, which is, sort of, pressed against the outside of that pipe, and that will read the thickness of the pipe in that location. And typically, you’re sending this crew around into the different areas to measure the health or the remaining fitness of the plant or the piping in lots of different high-risk locations. But because you’re sending someone around, you obviously, you know, have to fund that. You have to get access to the pipe, you have to build a staging, you have to hire expert people and service providers and that clearly incurs costs. And what that means is you are likely to only get to the same location every couple of years. If you think about maybe a jetty and a terminal, it probably has maybe 100 locations typically that you would want to send someone to gather this data, but because of cost constraints, generally, they’re only going to get to each one of those locations maybe every couple of years. And there’s lots of regulation around this, around how frequently this manual inspection needs to happen in any given facility, terminals included, and jetty lines in terminals included. But the real challenge with this approach is that it is only giving you this snapshot measurement in time. And then you effectively have to run blind for, let’s say, another five years until you get that next measurement from the same location. So, clearly, a lot, kind of, happened to the health of that asset, in this case, jetty piping or pipework. That means you have a very, almost instantly out-of-date understanding of the health of your plant. It’s too sparse in time. And so, whilst that measurement can be very reliable and very accurate, it is very sparse in time. And clearly, when we have corrosion events which maybe, in very extreme circumstances, could eat through piping in days or weeks and cause that leak, the risk is, of course, that that event happens and you don’t see it because you are only measuring it every few years. So, that fundamentally is the challenge with that manual inspection process in this application and ultimately across all process industries where internal corrosion is a problem. Jim: And I’m trying to visualize, especially as pipelines going out over the water too, you know, that must be challenging just to physically get to them and perform this. Jake: That is the other reason why jetty pipelines become a focus for monitoring tools, which we’ll start to talk about in a second because getting that technician to that jetty pipework is challenging. Typically, you’re talking about either building dedicated staging, which, kind of, you know, hangs down off the jetty so that someone can go down, maybe a rope access technician can go down, remove the insulation, take the measurement of the pipe, replace the insulation, you know, and then shimmy on along the pipe to get to the next location. Or you’re talking about trying to do this from a small boat or a rib or something underneath the jetty, which again, clearly, poses plenty of challenges for trying to take these measurements by hand. So, yeah, the cost of accessing the location to take the inspection by hand is, in this application, probably significantly more expensive than the act of taking the measurement itself. Jim: Well, thankfully, technology’s been just rapidly advancing for all of us. So, now that we’ve heard a bit about the traditional way and the challenges involved in that, what’s a better approach in helping solve these kinds of issues? Jake: Well, we believe, and indeed, many of our customers are discovering the value of moving from this, sort of, traditional, as I say, 50, 60-year-old method of taking measurements by hand very infrequently and beginning to migrate towards a continuous monitoring approach. And in order to do that, you effectively leave the measurement device in place on the equipment, in this case, the jetty pipeline. And we’re talking about very small, compact, wireless, battery-powered devices. So, no cabling. So, instead of going to take the measurement by hand every few years, you install a device once in that location, and then you leverage technology advances like wireless to get that data to desk. And then not only are you removing the subsequent cost of having to go to that location by hand, but you’re also then able to get practically continuous data directly to your desk. So, you’re removing the difficulty, cost, safety risk of having to access that location, but also significantly increasing the quality and the frequency of data that you retrieve. And clearly, that frequency of data moving to continuous effectively would be almost impossible from a manpower resourcing cost base if you were trying to send someone maybe twice a day to that location to try and gather that same frequency of data. It simply isn’t cost-effective, unless you are going to automate that process with these more modern monitoring devices. Jim: And it’s not like the data that’s coming from these devices is being used in control in any way. So, I got to imagine with whatever the sampling rate is on that, that as battery-powered devices, they’d last a long time. Jake: Yeah, exactly. I mean, in my field, we talk about continuous monitoring of corrosion, but corrosion is relative to things like pressure and temperature and process monitoring going to vary significantly less fast than those process variables. So, whereas you may be interested in taking that kind of data maybe once a second or potentially even more frequent. You know, our devices by default will send a measurement every 12 hours or twice per day. I mean, the beauty of modern wireless technology like WirelessHART is that we have a two-way communication. So, not only is the data being automatically retrieved every 12 hours directly to desk, but also from desk, you can control that device and increase that measurement frequency if you want. So, perhaps not this particular application, but for example, sand production on an offshore gas production well, sand production in that could maybe destroy that piping in less than 24 hours. In which case, for that particular application, you would want to achieve up the measurement frequency a little bit, but typically, you’re still only talking maybe once an hour, once every 15 minutes, something like that. So, absolutely, these devices, the battery will last seven years plus, no problem. Jim: Well, that sounds really good. So, for those terminals there with, you know, existing systems in place for controlling or giving the operators around visibility into what’s happening around the terminal, how does this corrosion and erosion monitoring system integrate with those type of systems? Jake: Well, again, that’s another fantastic feature of a WirelessHART technology because the mesh, the wireless mesh, if you imagine, the communication channels that exist between the devices to retrieve that data is so-called self-forming and self-healing. And what that means is if you already have some of this wireless data retrieval for other things…and clearly, we haven’t got time to talk about all of those other wireless measurement devices available from Emerson, the catalog is enormous. But if you’re already using that kind of thing and you already have this so-called gateway installed, then the beauty is you just come along with another device such as this thickness monitoring percent sensor, and you simply install it. And that device will immediately hook-in to that existing infrastructure and start communicating and retrieving its data. So, it’s extremely straightforward to drop in additional devices into that existing infrastructure. That said, the self-forming element, if you don’t have that existing infrastructure, we are talking about one device, which is called a gateway, and that is the interface between the wired IT infrastructure that already exists somewhere in the plant and the devices. So, you’re just talking about having to make that one thing, which is the interface between the wireless world and the existing cable infrastructure that the customer will already have in that plant. So, it’s basically very easy to get going, and it’s also very easy to add once you have got going. Jim: Yeah. It sounds like with that gateway is the device connected one way or another into the PLC, or DCS system, or whatever that they have in the facility. Yeah. You’re adding a device and it hops on and joins the network. You had mentioned a little earlier that there are other corrosion monitoring solutions. How does a user assess and select the best corrosion or erosion monitoring technology to use for their application? Jake: That’s a great question. And actually, one in my current role, I feel, actually, Emerson is one of the only people that can genuinely answer that question for you. And that’s because we really do have a very, very complete range of corrosion and erosion measurement technologies. And that allows us to help a customer choose the right technologies. And I say technologies plural because most of the time, anyone with a corrosion or erosion challenge such as the one we’re talking about today with the jetty pipelines are interested in both early warning of risk and an understanding of all those…is that high-risk condition, is that corrosive condition that I have in my plant? How is that impacting the health of my plant? So, we frequently talk about in any given application for any given, sort of, corrosion challenge that we come across in any application, we talk about the desire and indeed the need to monitor both the risk and the impact. And typically, I’m not going to say for every application, but typically, to monitor the risk, we use an intrusive probe or a so-called inline probe, and that’s actually a sacrificial device that we actually put inside the process fluid so that has a process penetration, it goes inside the process fluid, it’s in contact with the process fluid, and is super responsive to changes in that corrosive fluid. So, that tells you about the corrosion or the erosion risk of the fluid in the pipe. And then we use typically non-intrusive wall thickness monitoring devices to monitor the health of the asset itself. And clearly, that is what is changing if you have corrosion events that are eating away the plant. If the plant is being eaten away, if corrosion is happening, that will impact the thickness of the metal and we detect it that way. So, we’re looking at both the risk and the impact. Clearly, we want to make sure we leverage such technologies that we’ve already talked about like wireless, software, visualization, and analytics, because one of the main things about moving from an inspection to a monitoring continuously, is that you’re going to be gathering a whole lot more data. So, you also need tools to help you make sense and get value of all this data. You don’t just want, you know, you don’t want an email coming up every time you get a measurement twice a day. You want to be able to look at trends, you want to be able to correlate with other process variables. And that’s where I’m bringing all the data together and using some sort of cutting-edge visualization and analytics tools. We can really add value to the data, or at least make sure that the customer is able to extract that value from this data. Jim: That’s interesting, those different approaches and what you’re trying to do with it. Let me ask you one more before we wrap things up here. Do you have any example, like economics of, if somebody’s doing something the traditional way and moving to more of continuous monitoring approach, you know, that you’ve seen from places where we’ve implemented these technologies? Jake: I think the cost comparison, if you will, between the traditional approach and the, sort of, modern monitoring approach will depend on how difficult the asset is to access. You know, so, we discussed for the jetty pipelines, if you’re building staging, if you’re having to, like, you know, secure a ship and trying to take the measurements, you’ve got to secure…clearly, you have to have a crew. You know, there’s all the safety concerns around that. So, there’s a lot more cost associated with getting those technicians to those locations. So, it’s quite variable, but for the most part over, let’s say, five years, the cost of monitoring is likely to be comparable with the cost of inspection. But really, the value add is whilst the cost might be comparable, under the monitoring scenario, you have gathered continuous data. So, every single day you know the health of your plant, whereas under the traditional inspection regime, you are up to five years old with your understanding of how your plant, of the health of your plant, and the understanding of how it’s coping with the corrosion burden or the corrosion demand being placed on it from within. So, where we find the most valuable or where our customers find the most value is not necessarily in looking at reducing the cost base, although there is a reason to do that, as I say, in such difficult to access locations as jetty pipelines. But the mega value for these systems comes when, for example, the corrosion risk is varying frequently over time. And if you only are gathering, kind of, the average corrosion rate by looking at the difference between two measurements, one five years ago, and one yesterday, then clearly, at best, you’re going to get, kind of, a generic average corrosion rate for that asset. But it’s not going to tell you anything about when that metal loss actually occurred. And the flip side is if you do know when that metal loss actually occurred because you are monitoring, you can clearly do very reliable root cause analysis because you can say, you know, “On the 1st of October, my corrosion rate went from 0 to 50 mils per year. You know, it went from basically nothing. I was tracking no metal loss, then all of a sudden, you know, on a certain date, the corrosion rate went really, really high.” So, if you’re monitoring, you detect that almost instantly, and then you say, “Well, it started on this day. You know, what in my other recorded process variables happened on that day?” And that’s how you begin to correlate the impact. So, we’re monitoring the impact with the Permasense devices, you know, the health of the equipment, the impact of corrosion on that equipment. But as a plant operator, you are already monitoring loads of other things and those loads of other things are likely to be some of the causes of corrosion. So, for example, in a jetty pipeline, you may be offloading a certain batch of crude, you know, from a ship and maybe that is a really corrosive batch and that’s what, you know, eats away your metal and maybe it only happens over a day, but clearly, unless you’re monitoring, you can’t see those events. And it’s those seeing of those events in, you know, near real-time that allow you to take the preventative actions to avoid the loss of containment because clearly, if you know the pipe is already in a state that it’s about to go pop and leak, then you will not use that equipment. You know, that’s emergency shut downtime and your…well, not emergency shut downtime, but it’s, “Okay, we need to plan the maintenance. We need to replace this bit of equipment.” If you’re not monitoring, you’re just not going to see that. And the first you know about that corrosion, which has been happening, you know, inside the pipe from the process side out, is that you’re leaking hydrocarbon into the river. Clearly, depending on how quickly you spot that greatly affects your ability to clean it up and the economic impact of that leak, but if you’re monitoring, you can avoid that altogether. Jim: Yeah. So, it sounds like you shouldn’t necessarily do the evaluation based on, you know, operation, no costs to manually inspect versus putting those continuous monitoring, “Oh, in the long-term, that’ll payout.” It’s more risk avoidance in so many areas and knowing the state better and maybe saying, “You know, we’ve got to do something with this pipeline before we take that high acid crude in here that could really cause some damage in there.” Well, Jake, I know I’ve learned a ton and I’m hoping our listeners have gotten quite a bit out of this. Where can they go to learn more? Jake: In terms of finding more about this very particular initiative in terms of terminal safety, you can go to emerson.com/terminal-safety. And probably the easiest way to get hold of me, and I’m very willing to continue the conversation, is on LinkedIn, very active on LinkedIn. And then if you want to look for more general information about some of the corrosion monitoring solutions or erosion monitoring solutions we’ve talked about today, perhaps outside of the terminal application, I suggest to search for Emerson corrosion monitoring and you will find our portfolio on Emerson.com. Jim: Well, that’s great. A couple of places for our listeners to go and I’ll make sure to include links in the transcript of our conversation here. So, thank you so much for joining us today, Jake. Jake: Thanks for having me, Jim. I really appreciate it. End of transcript.
20 minutes | 6 months ago
Reducing Manual Valve Lineup Mistakes Podcast
For safer and more reliable terminal operations, it is important to know location of all products and their needed movements. Without clear visibility into the real-time health and operational status of the assets required for movements through the facility, problems can occur. One operational risk is in the lineup of the manual and automatic valves. Improper positions can result in unsafe conditions, unintended movements, or other operational issues. In this storage terminal safety podcast, we are joined by Emerson’s Kurtis Jensen to discuss specific technologies that provide the highest level of reliability and safety. These technologies enable technicians, users and operators to detect issues and monitor for correct valve positions with and reduce the number of times they need to send staff into hazardous locations. Visit the Terminal Safety, Wireless Pressure Relief Valve (PRV) Monitoring and Wireless Valve Position Monitoring sections on Emerson.com for more on some of the technologies discussed. Also, links have been added in the transcript below for specific products and technologies discussed. Transcript Jim: Hi, everybody. I’m Jim Cahill from the Emerson Automation Experts blog. And today we’re going to have another in our continuing podcast series on Enabling Storage Terminal Safety. And for today, I’m joined by Kurtis Jensen and we’ll be discussing Reducing Manual Valve Lineup Mistakes. Kurt, why don’t we start out by letting you introduce yourself and give us a little bit of your educational background and path to where you are today with Emerson? Kurtis: Okay, Jim, for everybody, I started long ago, in 1981, with an associate degree in electronics. And my first assignment was performing on-site field service work for both analog and digital process control, both valves and instrument measurement. I then moved from there into more of a product engineering role for electronics and software. I started doing more and more software and utility things with troubleshooting and supporting customers. I next went into SCADA and RTU development doing both firmware and software that’s used in our North American pipeline markets. And during that time, I became heavily involved in telecommunication and telecommunication designs from local area networks to wide area networks. And I became involved with several of the communication giants in pioneering what’s now known as internet-based networks to improve speed and reduce costs. And at that point, I became more heavily involved with Emerson and expanding their wide area network globally. I then obtained my bachelor’s and master’s degree during that time. From there, I went back into the product development side and worked with WirelessHART, our internal WirelessHART team, and the external FieldComm WirelessHART group. And we developed Fisher instruments to target valve solutions that will help users with critical reliability needs. And today, I’m currently working with FieldComm and other standards boards in developing next-generation technologies to bring future step changes in valve and process control innovations. Jim: Wow, that’s a varied background and a lot of area around seeing this technology as it’s developed and all the way through to today with the wireless and I think that’s a great segue into what we’re talking about, in trying to reduce manual valve lineup mistakes in these storage terminals. So why is reducing valve lineup mistakes a key part of every storage terminal facility’s safety initiative? Kurtis: Jim, there are many instances and stories I’ve discussed with end-users where mistakes continued in their operations, and they were struggling with them. In many cases, the infrastructure they had was dated, and making additions in their infrastructure or their finances was unfeasible. And that was especially where control system I/O or wiring were just simply prohibitive. The warning signs that these customers, clients, users discussed were as simple as delays in their production facilities. But most of the user’s related products bills or emission releases that were concerning. And those issues resulted in sometimes they had to do cleanup, and sometimes when it dealt with the emissions, they could not re-enter those areas because of some of those releases. And some of the warning signs that they talked about that started with this was distracted technicians where they were busy doing other things and couldn’t get back to what was probably important. And there’s a number of reasons why they were distracted. But this also led to more and more the operators going out in the field, leaving the control room, going back out, doing things that led them to not watching their full plant. And both those technicians and the operators were being asked to do more, and with less people or less things around them to help them. And then they started to recognize some of their near misses. And then they started to look at process improvements, and in some cases, they resulted in short-term results but with the passage of time, the mistakes returned and continued, and in some cases, they became worse, and simply because of a false sense of protection from some of those process improvements. Jim: Yeah, it sounds like that’s a lot they have to do without any kind of feedback coming from and all these manual valves, making sure they’re all in the exact position they need to be to move these products through the storage terminal, I guess in and out and everything. And I imagine a lot of these facilities have only manual valves based on their age. So these mistakes I can see happening. What would be your recommendation for them in terminals like this that have mostly manual valves? Kurtis: So I talked to a number of customers and what I would do is kind of use what they have told me. And they all look at the same things, and they look at three different areas that they have concerns, and that’s where they target. First is, when they go to a startup or they go to a shut down or they’re changing over, they look at where all the valves need to be. And as we discussed a little earlier, spills and leaks, and releases are a no-no. And I need to provide management with assurances that the past episodes don’t return. I had a chemical customer and the spill they encountered cost them roughly $25,000 each, you know, that included cleanup, disposal, what they had to document to the environment, or what they had to document to management. The same customer had three spills within a period of four months prior to our conversation. And he asked his group the following valve lineup questions before startups, “Are all valves lined up correctly?” And if not, how much effort did they need to put them in the state that they could proceed? And does sending people out to verify change, does that include a safety risk or a safety concern?” Jim: Yeah, that’s interesting for it, so trying to verify everything being lined up correctly. What would be your recommendation to them to be able to drive improvements, I guess, not only in safety but environmental compliance and everything else that happens from mistakes? Kurtis: Well, what the customer, the clients that we’ve talked to so far, where I would tell them to start and where they have started, is looking at those previous near misses, or maybe where they had issues in the past, those are the biggest targets for safety improvement. But followed closely by that, is those valves that require the most attention, those that take people away and take a lot of their time. And then followed closely after that is those that force or take those operators out of the control room and makes them, I would call it semi-blind or whatever, while they’re out of the control room dealing with things that they probably don’t need to. These other…the last two lead to distractions in the facility, they increase risks to the people and facilities, not to mention the surrounding community. From a financial point of view, it’s easy to put together and provide an ROI that gets the attention and approval in short order when they talk about safety. But when you look at a second part of this, is looking at kind of where you start conversations with either management or operations. And that question that typically comes up is, what if you already knew the state of every valve related to your shutdown or startup? And the conversations usually go around or center around, like, you don’t need to worry about waiting on resources, because you already know what state those valves are. But maybe more important is your ability to keep people away from hazardous environments completely. And those two points really drive most of the conversations or most of the progress towards finding a solution. Jim: Okay, so what are some of the specific technologies that we can bring to help ensure the valves are in the right position before they do what they need to do? Kurtis: So, Jim, when you look at the technologies out there, the ones that provide the highest level of reliability and confidence are the ones that the people really go towards, and the ones with wireless is becoming more and more important. And the technology out there that really has caught on the most is WirelessHART. And the reasons why it caught on, I think, is not only the reliability that the WirelessHART technology provides but it also enables those technicians and the users and the operators, they use the same exact tools that they’re used to with other instruments that’s already in their plant. And some of the WirelessHart technologies out there, and we discussed about this is, is manual valve position or valve position monitoring on manual valves is one. But you also can have valve position feedback on, I’ll call it semi-automated valves. You know, most of these are quarter-turn valves, and maybe they have a solenoid on them, but they still don’t know if the valve is where it needs to be and that can solve quite a few problems. There’s also valve position feedback on pressure relief valves. You wouldn’t have thought of that. But if you know a pressure relief valve position feedback, it also increases, you know, the safety within the plant. And there’s also valve position feedback on some of the automated control valves out there that have a positioner but they don’t have position feedback on them as well. So you mentioned manual valves, but when they look at all of the opportunity to get visibility that they don’t have today, there are a lot of solutions out there to provide that feedback. And the result is they reduce the number of times they need to send people into hazardous environments but then they can also look at maybe even a step forward past that is maybe they can think of or incorporate that feedback maybe in some of their permissives or some of their interlock designs. Jim: Yeah, I was just thinking that, that if you’re getting all this feedback in, one, you can display it to the operators, but you can also use it before you start the pumps, commence the transfer, everything else, are they where they need to be? So I guess the wireless information isn’t necessarily part of the control strategy, but it’s performing checks to say, “Hey, before you move forward with it, that’s okay.” Is that a correct understanding do you think? Kurtis: Well, yeah, I think the users can do it both ways, as you said is, is just a feedback for the control to provide the operators a higher level of understanding or a higher level of awareness and it can be just as simple as an indication on some of their control screens or HMIs that, yes, the valves out there for this, I’ll just call it a chemical plant, in a terminal storage, the valves are where they need to be before they take the next step and give that confidence and assurance that they’re not going to have the mistakes they have had in the past. Jim: Yeah, that sure seems like it beats the alternative of someone having to go and check everything and make sure it is, and like, you said, they’re out of the control room when that’s happening so they may be missing some alarms and other things going on in there. I guess just one other question I had that occurred to me, so for the facility managers you talk to or for the folks that are in the plants speaking with the facility managers, how do they typically get started? Kurtis: Well, the first thing, I think, is looking at how to provide operators with the visibility or a better view of what is happening that will enable them to make better decisions and sooner. And in order to do that, they have to look at reducing the complexity with some of the views to their system and maybe they look at their control systems or their I/O is dated. And they can’t go down that approach. They have to look at newer technologies, and maybe they’ve looked at wireless. But they really want or what they should really look at is those technologies that provide the greatest confidence, those technologies that deliver highest levels of reliabilities. And you don’t want to install something only to recognize, I’ll just call it periodic outages, or downtime of those technologies from either obstructions or construction projects or those technologies that are more difficult to set up or integrate with their system. Once you have those pieces together, you have a better solution to eliminate those mistakes, those valve lineup mistakes because you have a visibility that you didn’t have before that provides that step change and safety. Jim: Well, this has been a fascinating conversation and I learned a lot and I hope our listeners have too. Where can our listeners go to learn more? Kurtis: So, Jim, as you discuss, there’s other solutions similar to this with…Emerson can show. There’s many WirelessHART solutions out there. What we talked about was just a couple of solutions focused around valves and focused around terminal storage, but they can go to the Emerson website, emerson.com, and look under either PRVs (pressure relief valves), or Fisher Wireless, or go to the Emerson.com/terminal-safety, and find more information. And they can also reach out and connect with me in LinkedIn or contact anybody within our Emerson team and get information on this as well. Jim: Well, that’s great. And I’ll make sure to add a link to your LinkedIn profile for those that hear it and want to reach out to you, but also the contact section of the website can get someone local in their area. Well, Kurt, thank you so much for joining us today. Kurtis: Well, and Jim, thank you for reaching out and I enjoyed this conversation and I hope that others find it beneficial and they can use it within their facilities as well. Jim: Excellent. Thanks. End of transcript
20 minutes | 6 months ago
Improving Storage Tank Protection Podcast
Storage tanks take up a lot of real estate in storage terminal facilities but are often less cared for in maintenance programs and operations due to difficulties in accessing tank roofs. Although they may not get the same level of attention as other parts of the facility, storage tanks have many inherent risks to personnel, the environment, and other assets if not properly maintained. Tank protection maintenance covers a broad ecosystem of devices and equipment dedicated to the accurate measurement of pressure, temperature and liquid level changes, as well as the monitoring of equipment, which helps protect these assets (e.g. pressure vacuum vents, emergency vents, thief hatches, flame and blanketing, and vapor recovery regulators.) When driving continuous safety improvements, a well-informed facility manager needs to focus on tank integrity and the day-to-day challenges of tank farm personnel. In this storage terminal safety podcast, we are joined by Emerson’s Dave Macedonia to discuss today’s most cost effective and innovative technologies to help prevent tank over pressure or under pressure events that jeopardize tank integrity and personnel safety. Visit the Terminal Safety and Tank Pressure Control sections on Emerson.com for more on some of the technologies discussed. Also, links have been added in the transcript below for specific products and technologies discussed. Transcript Jim: Hi, everyone. This is Jim Cahill from the Emerson Automation Experts blog. As part of our continuing podcast series on enabling storage terminal safety, today I’m joined by David Macedonia and we’re gonna talk about ways to achieve better tank protection. Welcome, Dave. Dave: Hi, Jim. Thanks a lot for having me. Jim: You bet. Well, why don’t we get started could you give us a little bit of your background, your education, and your path to where you are today? Dave: Sure. So, I am the industrial business development director for Emerson’s pressure management business unit based in McKinney, Texas, just north of Dallas. So, I’ve been with Emerson for about five years mostly in marketing and business development roles, both in our natural gas side of the business and our industrial business within pressure management. And I have a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Northwestern University and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business. And in my old life, I was a submarine officer in the Navy for seven years operating nuclear propulsion plants. Jim: Well, that sounds like a very diverse and interesting background! So, let’s apply that into what you’re doing right now. Can you tell us a little bit about, you know, today’s tank protection and how its impact on our listeners’ bottom lines and their operational performance? Dave: Tank farms, both in refineries, chemical plants, and in terminals take up a lot of real estate in the plant, but don’t get as much attention as other parts of the plant. And there’s a lot going on inside of a tank, it’s really its own ecosystem. It has to be carefully controlled both on the liquid and the vapor side. So, at least in our business unit with Emerson and the equipment that I’m responsible for, we maintain the vapor side of the tank. And really there’s a lot of factors that go into this and a properly maintained tank can communicate that operational benefits and safety benefits for operators of these facilities. Jim: Okay. When you look at these facilities, what are some of the common concerns that you see, you know, especially from a safety point of view? Dave: I guess first of all, Jim, what I’ll say is a couple of statistics just for your listeners to set the stage here. So the contents inside of a tank are very valuable to our customers. Just for an example, an 80,000-barrel tank filled with naphtha or with crude oil at today’s market prices is about $3 million if it’s full. So it certainly would affect the bottom line if anything were to compromise those contents. Also, about 85% of tank accidents are caused by fire or explosions, and a flame can travel up to 4,000 miles an hour if you have a flame event inside of the system. So certainly a sobering statistic from a safety perspective. And then finally, from an environmental and an emissions point of view, in 2019 EPA in the U.S. reported that $4.4 billion of investment was needed to comply with emissions laws, and over $470 million worth of judgments were levied just in 2019 alone. It’s irrespective of administrations as well, so those numbers are ticking up over time. From a safety perspective, really we’re worried about tank integrity and personnel safety. So specifically implosions and explosions. If the tank were to over pressurize, if you did not have enough venting in a tank, that tank could over pressurize and then cause an explosion, something we certainly want to avoid. And then the reverse of that, if you were to draw a vacuum on the tank and not have the ability to restore pressure control to that tank, the tank could implode, and both of those results could result in lost product and damage to equipment and personnel, particularly if products inside were to leak out and ignite. Jim: Wow, that sounds like a lot of issues, not only with safety but with regulatory and fines associated with it. Not to mention the company brand that this has happened to can sustain damage from the negative reporting and everything around it. So it sounds like it’s very important to make sure to get that tank protection the way it needs to be. So what are some other common concerns that you hear from these facilities? Dave: Especially nowadays emissions is one thing that is starting to come up a lot more. So as we know, a company, our customers are being a lot more environmentally conscious especially with fugitive emissions. And these tanks do vent off vapors to the atmosphere that could be harmful to people in the environment. So you might’ve seen in the news recently, so especially in Europe, a lot of companies are now signing up for emissions targets in accordance with the European Commission guidelines. So companies like our Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Total have pledged to be net zero emissions by 2050. So this is something that’s it’s an ambitious target, especially for a hydrocarbon-based company, but something that we can help them with, with our technology that exists today. So we will be able to partner with customers like these to better control their storage tanks, but also meet their mission. Jim: Interesting. And, you know, you mentioned the role technology can play in addressing some of these. So can you talk about the types of technologies that can help ward off some of these issues that we’re talking about? Dave: So a properly maintained and protected tank will have redundant pieces of equipment kind of stacked with setpoints between a normal band and kind of an emergency condition. So on the positive pressure side, usually the tank is maintained at a slightly positive pressure with nitrogen or some other inert gas to be able to protect that tank contents from impurities and also maintain an environment that is below explosive or flammable limits. There’s a slightly maintained pressure. Usually, it’s in inches of water column, but it can be an in pounds depending on the, I think, on the tank, but usually, we see it in inches of water column. And then the next step up from there, a protective device is called a PVRV. So a pressure vacuum relief valve. So that would vent off excess pressure if it gets too high. And then one step above that would be an emergency pressure valve or vent, which is really the last line of defense from between that tank over pressurizing and a potential rupture. So those three devices should be staggered with their set points such that they’re not operating at the same time. And then conversely on the negative pressure side, we have the same stacking of redundant devices. So we have a vapor recovery unit could have where it takes excess vapors from the tank and then puts it back into the tank. You could have the pressure vacuum release valve also works in the opposite way, where if you’re drawing a vacuum in that tank can draw air from the atmosphere into the tank to restore pressure control. And then finally an emergency vacuum vent, which would be the last line of defense from an implosion. So you have all of that equipment in the tank, as well as flame devices called flame arresters to prevent flames from propagating within the system to include tanks or other flammable parts of the system. So ultimately that device, you want to contain a flame event wherever possible when that is installed. Jim: Yeah, it sounds like managing the pressure around that tank from overpressure, from underpressure, keep the integrity of that tank and protect the valuable contents within it, then the safety of all the personnel around. So what are some important selection criteria around some of these technologies that you just talked about? Dave: Sizing and selection is the most important thing. So you have to have the right tool for the job, and it has to be the right piece of equipment, and it has to be able to do what you need it to do. So I would say for blanketing regulators, it needs to have capacity, enough capacity to be able to maintain pressure control in that tank depending on its size. And we use the API 2000 [Venting Atmospheric and Low-pressure Storage Tanks]. So it’s really the worst-case conditions for that tank has to be able to be maintained with that device. With tank vents, it’s along the same lines. So both PVRVs and emergency release vents, both of those need to be sized appropriately to be able to relieve enough pressure in worst-case conditions. And then for flame arresters, it really depends on your design of your system. So some of that is actually choosing the right type of product. So for flame arresters, there are two different types, detonation arresters and deflagration arresters. So I mentioned this statistic earlier where a flame front can travel at 4,000 miles an hour. So that is a detonation and explosive region where a deflagration is a lower pressure, slower-moving flame event. A detonation is your worst-case scenario and sometimes the configuration of your piping, the different conditions may necessitate you using that. So, you know, that’s something to also consider in sizing and selection and our inside sales folks, our impact partners in North America are very well-versed in it. Jim: Okay. It sounds like a number of different technologies to address things at different levels. What are some solutions that we offer to assist these operators? Dave: Sure. So tank blanketing are really our flagship products. Maybe the ACE95 vapor saver regulator, and the Fisher 1190 tank blanketing regulator. Both of those are really our standards that we use in refining, chemicals and terminals. The 1190 is the largest of our tank blanketing regulators. Some of the largest tanks like the 80,000-barrel tanks would require something of that size and it has really the best in class capacity and ease of maintenance as well. So that product can actually be configured such as on the ground at grade and not actually on top of the tank. And you can do maintenance with your feet on solid ground and not 20 feet in the air on a piece of scaffolding. And that product can also be configured with a Fisher 4320 position indicator. So we can talk about that a little later about some different monitoring technologies that Emerson can provide with a lot of these products to provide more visibility to customers when it comes to tanks. Emerson can also offer some Enardo branded products. So the series 950 PVRV, and the Enardo Model 2000 ERV. Both of those have a feature for wear resistance. It’s called a saber to make sure that that seating surface is clean so that when it seats, it moves up and down in a straight line and seats properly to prevent excess wear over the lifetime of that product. And both of those have wireless options as well to be able to communicate to customers or operators when that device is open or shut. And also the Enardo detonation arrester that I mentioned before, it has a certification from the United States Coast Guard, which actually has the most stringent requirements in the market today. And that product also has a built-in instrument port, which can have an instrument inserted into the product for temperature, for differential pressure, for different parameters to provide information to operators to indicate whether cleaning is required or in the worst-case scenario, if a flame event has taken place. Jim: Yeah, traditionally these relief valves and pressure regulators and flame arresters, and all the others, there’s no electronics or wires going into it. And you had mentioned wireless options to these for monitoring. Could you talk a little bit more about that? Dave: Absolutely. So I alluded to this with the Fisher 1190. So that product can be equipped with a Fisher 4320 position indicator. It measures the travel of that unit, and it can provide an indication of the position of that regulator. And that could be useful in that it could be able to communicate to operators when that regulator is open or shut. So during the course of any day, a regulator is going to a cycle depending on normal operations. So for that tank, if liquid is being pumped in or out of that tank, that vapor space will expand or contract, and you will need more nitrogen. You have to vent or put in nitrogen to maintain that pressure at the setpoint. Also temperature. So ambient temperature is another thing that that can change. So as that temperature changes, the density of the gas will change thus requiring adjustments to that pressure in that inside of that tank over time. That regulator will cycle over time just in normal operations, but if that regulator is open, for example, when you don’t expect it to be, that could be the indication of a problem. If you have leakage in that tank, or for example, if maybe your vent opened but hadn’t reseated, you would never know that because that pressure would continue to be maintained by that regulator. It could be open, but you could be just venting excess nitrogen to the atmosphere. We have seen customers that I mentioned these setpoints, it could not be staggered enough, such that if the regulator were to be open at the same time as at PVRV, that’s stacked on top of it, then you would just be venting excess nitrogen to the atmosphere and you might never know it, especially, if not many people ever go up to the top of the tank. So that’s something we actually check for in our tank walk downs when we visit customer sites, but you would have that indication if you have that wireless device equipped to that product. So that’s one option that customers have. With our tank events, our EPVs or PVRVs, we do have certain models that are equipped with a TopWorx GO switch, so the top works business unit within Emerson, and coupled to a Rosemount transmitter. So it’s a proximity switch, so when that valve is open or shut, it would give that indication to operators. And for example, with an emergency event, that should never be opened during normal operation. You will see some cycling of the PVRV at times, that is normal, but it would give customers that indication that there is an abnormality. So those are a couple options that we have today for customers, especially those who are kind of further down the line of sensing or monitoring a lot of different devices from their control rooms. Jim: Yeah, it sounds like before it had to all be manual inspection to check or maybe the process is picking up on overpressure or something in that way. But now it seems like not only can you verify it should be doing what you expect it to do based on what the other sensors are telling you the process is running, but things like alerting operators that it needs to be looked at. So it just seems like overall to help with having safer, more reliable operations, is that fair to say? Dave: It is. And a lot of it still is. A lot of that, all the equipment that we’ve talked about usually is on the tank top, which most of the time is out of sight, out of mind. A lot of say more junior operators would man the tank farm than say a processing unit and not many people go up there whether to take logs or do periodic inspections. And it could be hazardous. You’re climbing up a ladder, you’re very high off the ground. Not a great place to be if you’re on shift. So a lot of issues with these products and with a tank pressure control can go unresolved just because they don’t know that they’re happening. Jim: Yeah. It seems like more and more these wireless options, basically, the industrial internet of things can really help making sure things are as they should be. Well, this has been very informative. Where can a listener go to learn more and connect with us at Emerson, Dave? Dave: Absolutely. So if you’re in North America, you can contact you or your Emerson Impact Partner in your area, and for your international listeners, your Emerson sales office in your region for local service and support. And then online, check us out at Emerson Exchange 365, or you can Google “Emerson tank pressure control,” and our tank pressure control page will come right up and you can read more about our services, our solutions, and our products at your own time. Jim: All right. Well, thank you so much for joining us today, Dave. Dave: Thanks a lot, Jim. It’s been a pleasure. Thanks for having me. End of transcript
26 minutes | 6 months ago
Remote and Continuous Floating Roof Monitoring for Storage Terminal Safety Podcast
Floating roof storage tanks have become an integral part of the storage terminal industry by reducing losses from evaporated, stored product. They also are essential to maintaining environmental compliance, by reducing potential emissions caused by evaporation. However, they can come with their own set of maintenance challenges. Common issues include roofs sinking causing product contamination and weather conditions. Accumulated snow and rainwater can cause roofs to tilt compromising their overall effectiveness. Facility managers can mitigate these challenges with thorough and regular check-ups which now can be done remotely with wirelessly captured, floating roof monitoring. In this storage terminal safety podcast series podcast, we are joined by Emerson’s Per Skogberg and Christoffer Hoffmann. We discuss how predictable tank incidents can become preventable with Remote and Continuous Floating Roof Monitoring. https://www.emersonautomationexperts.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Per-Skogberg-Christoffer-Hoffmann-Floating-Roof-Monitoring.mp3 To learn more about how to ensure the safety of your storage terminal facilities, please visit: www.emerson.com/terminal-safety. For specific product information, please visit: www.emerson.com/rosemount-tankgauging. And, to subscribe to this series and other Emerson Automation Experts podcasts, visit your favorite podcast application including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn & Amazon. Transcript Jim: Hi, everyone. This is Jim Cahill from the “Emerson Automation Experts Blog.” And today, we have a podcast, part of the “Enabling Storage Terminal Safety” podcast series. And today, we’re going to talk about mitigating tank damage with floating roof monitoring. And I’m joined by Per Skogberg and Christoffer Hoffmann. And I guess to get started, why don’t we start with you, Per? Could you give us a little bit, introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about what’s your title, and your education, and background? Per: Yeah, sure. I’m a solutions manager at Emerson, working with our tank gauging system. I studied Industrial Engineering and Management at university and have a Master of Science in Management and Economics of Innovation. I’ve been with Emerson now for six years, just about, in a few different roles but actually always working with our tank gauging business. Jim: That’s great. And Chris, could you tell us a little bit about yourself? Christoffer: Absolutely, Jim. I’ve been working with Emerson for approximately 10 years now. I have a multitude of roles just like Per. My current role is business development manager, primarily focusing on Latin American for tank gauging. My background actually comes from more of an IT world rather than the industrial world. So I’m bringing that into the picture. Jim: Okay. That’s great. I guess let’s start out for our listeners, can you share a little history of floating roof monitoring technology and why it’s important for, you know, some of our customers with storage tanks? Christoffer: Well, the existence of floating roof tank was more or less unknown to most people outside of the industry. That said, before Hurricane Harvey swept across the U.S. in 2017 causing a lot of damage, and that you heard a lot of media reports about the damages that occurred for several storage terminals and refineries. We had tank failures, product spills, and a lot of release of hydrocarbon vapors and volatile organic compounds or VOCs into the atmosphere. And since then, safety of oil storage and floating roof tanks especially has become a much more widely discussed topic. And according to the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers, the IOGP, the incidence frequency of floating roof tanks per year is 1 in 625 tanks will have liquid spilled onto the floating roof. One in 900 floating roofs will actually sink into the product, in the tank. One in 8,300 tanks will develop a full surface fire, which is the extreme case. Per: And an interesting thing here you might say is that many of these incidents are actually…they’re considered when they happen to be sort of one-offs or just, you know, fluke accidents. But instead of… If you were to consider them as predictable events, you know, it would be possible to prevent and mitigate this in a whole different way. And that’s why it should be made a part of the systemic safety work to monitor the roofs. And that’s where we now have an option to use automatic monitoring in order to be able to see when an issue is first arising. Previously, if you compare, then a tank could fail suddenly without notice, but now you would have a means to continuously monitor the status of the roof and to get early notice that when something is amiss here and you should take action. Jim: Yeah, sounds like monitoring from a safety perspective is critical. Chris, what are some common issues you see in storage tanks without floating roofs, I guess some of the fixed tank roof? What are the disadvantages of those types of tanks? Christoffer: Well, before the invention of floating roof storage tanks, these tanks were often without any cover or top at all. So it was leaving the product exposed to the elements and that, of course, comes with numerous disadvantages. You have evaporation of the product, so product loss, you have increased risk of ignition since there’s no protection, and you also had the risk of product contamination. So the roof storage tank can be… The easiest, the best analogy I find is to compare it to a swimming pool and the swimming pool cover because they basically do a lot of the same things. And the main reasons you started using floating roofs in the first place were to reduce evaporation from the stored product, which in turn has several benefits. You reduce the risk of igniting the volatile vapors. You reduce the product evaporation losses, of course, that has a significant impact on the economics on your operation. You reduce emissions released into the atmosphere. This is a big talking point, it’s becoming more and more brought up because stricter and stricter regulations for product emissions allowed into the atmosphere and you need to regulate them. You need to keep them under control as much as you can. And lastly, you protect the product from contamination like precipitation and debris depending on where you are in the world, we’re talking about rain, or snow, or sand, or whatever that you’d want to keep out of your tanks. Jim: Well, that sounds like a lot of good reasons for floating roofs and why you see them more widely in use today. Per, what are some important considerations or advantages and disadvantages when investing in floating roof tank storage? Per: Well, you know, there are some disadvantages as you said, and mainly it’s because the floating roof, really, it’s like this really big moving part which then has wear and tear and requires maintenance. Of course, any failure of that roof, as Christoffer mentioned, can have quite severe impacts. You know, in worst case, a fire, or and otherwise injuries, or tank downtime, or a number of different…or other issues. To add on top of that, I mean, there are both internal and external floating roof tanks. On the external tanks, they are exposed to the elements which, of course, can’t be controlled. So and that’s what we saw in the case of Hurricane Harvey, that that caused a lot of problems. But then, due to all of this, it’s practiced that, of course, the roof should be inspected regularly, but that requires a lot of effort. And it’s not always that such inspections are performed as they should be. And that could be for a number of reasons. I mean, first of all, it’s a safety hazard for operators to climb down to the tank and climb down to the actual roof of the tank. And there’s typically a permit process involved there that you need to go through to gain access to the tank and that could be cumbersome. And the operating parameters might simply not be right for inspection when the need arises. For example, if the tank is in service you would prefer to enter the roof when the tank is full, and the roof is at the top position. But that, of course, isn’t always the case. And it may also be that management simply doesn’t understand the likelihood or the consequences of an incident occurring or there might not just be enough operators to prioritize this particular job against all of the other things that you need to do in your tank farm. Jim: Yeah, it sounds like there’s no perfect solution on the type of tanks there. So for these floating roof tanks, what are some signs of what a damaged floating roof looks like, Chris? And how easy is it to detect this damage? Christoffer: Well, there are numerous failure modes and types of damage that can occur. Some are easier to spot than others. An easy indication that there is an issue is you can see product, the tank product on the top of the tank roof where it’s not supposed to be. That’s one of the easy indications, but this could indicate roof leakage which could in the end could lead to the roofs sinking completely. Another sign is that the roof is tilting, it’s not floating level. It should always be as level as possible on the product and follow the product it’s floating on. However, if you’re standing there, these are big structures. Spotting a tilting roof just by visual inspection alone can be difficult because it looks level when you’re close up, up-close to it. If you have a tilting roof, that could in turn indicate numerous different problems. You could have leaking roof pontoons enabling the roof to float on the product. And these can sometimes be easy to spot, sometimes not. You can have a leaking center deck, which is the inner portion of the roof where you can have a puncture. Leaking roof rim seals, the seals around the roof towards the tank walls. You could also have buckling of the tank shell or rough spots where the roof seal binds to the tank shell when it moves up and down. So all of these are different indicators of different problems, but all of them can have severe effects. Per: And there are also a number of other failure modes. For example, the roof might sink or start tilting from heavy rain, or snow, or even sand from sandstorms in that part of the world. If that happens, that typically often is connected to the roof drain being clogged, or under-dimensioned, or maybe the valve just happened to be closed so it hasn’t let the water out as it should. Another thing that can cause tilt actually is strong winds. And, of course, if that happens in combination with rain or snow, that could lead to the roof tilting rather severely. And then also it may be that the rolling ladder that normally you would use to gain access to the roof, that can get stuck and prevent the roof from floating freely and following the liquid level up and down as it falls or rises. Christoffer: And regardless of the cause, an incident involving a floating roof impacts operations to some extent and requires a number of measures to be taken before the situation is back to normal. The specific measures needed will, of course, depend on the type of the incident, but effects of a floating roof failure can be a lot of different things. For example, you need to take the tank out of service. You need to clean up spills, worst case, if you have an incident, you have incident reporting to the proper authorities, which in turn can have consequences on their own. You need to monitor the air quality for any pollution as a result from the evaporating product. You need to clean the product if you have product contamination from any water, or any dirt, or any…for example, in case of a fire, we have to put it out using foam or anything like that. You need to clean up everything. Then you have the repair costs of the tank and/or the floating roof which is no small task. You have cause and effects related to the emergency responder or fire brigade actions taken. And, of course, you have interruption to your normal production under normal operations. In case of an accident, you suffer damage in the public perception, the public eye, and your reputation from shelter-in-place orders as a norm. And all of these consequences aside, it’s not even considering the potentially disastrous effects of a full tank fire. So all these are just the minor effects of a tank roof failure. But certainly, all these effects have a significant financial impact as well as putting the well-being of your employees at risk. So it’s definitely not a problem to be ignored. Per: Indeed. And I mean, so the standard way to reduce the risk of incidents then would be to, you know, routinely and thoroughly inspect the roof. And that would include maybe, you know, climbing down to the roof, opening the manways into the pontoon compartments to inspect them on the inside, to inspect the roof legs and vacuum breakers, and ensure that the rolling ladder is functioning properly. And checking or testing the parts of the seal that you can reach, and checking for corrosions, and many other tasks. So it’s an extensive job to be carrying out these inspections. And you need to do it regularly, of course, according to whatever safety guidelines and directives you have in place for the facility. But unfortunately, as we mentioned earlier, it’s not always the case that these are carried out as they should be. Christoffer: And not performing inspections routinely will cause problems at a later stage. So, when inspections are not carried out, you have less critical faults that could’ve been repaired not discovered. And as time passes, these escalate into, or these could escalate into more serious events. So in the end, this leads to operators being caught offguard by a sudden emergency like Per talked about in the beginning. Instead of having solved the issue by the repair as part of routine maintenance, we mean that it’s not a sudden occurrence. These all can be, or many of these failure modes can be detected early on. It’s actually, in fact, rare for serious incidents to happen suddenly out of the blue without any warning signs that could’ve been discovered earlier. And using automation technology to continuously monitor the behavior of the floating roof then becomes a way to predict when a tank needs maintenance. So it’s a way to improve routine practices and make sure you can focus your attention where it’s needed the most. Jim: I think you’ve really talked about a lot of the issues that can come up, both minor and major, and routine maintenance, and everything. And let’s drill in a little bit about the automation technology. So, Per, how has the Emerson team worked help to help solve these problems? Per: Well, I would say that adding automatic monitoring to the floating roof is a reliable way to be able to predict and mitigate roof failures. Using radar level gauges, this can be done, in fact, without making any modifications to the tank, and then combined with our TankMaster software, which we use in the control room, you get an overview of the status of all your floating roofs. And then you can also get the history of roof movements which can then be used to create a baseline for how the roof of each specific tank should be moving or is normally moving during operation. And then from that baseline you can set up alarms to quickly identify abnormal behavior before any kind of serious incident would occur. And we use radar gauges since, really, it’s the standard instrument you can even say for level measurement in box storage tanks. And it’s a proven technology. It’s been used for decades in terminals and tank farms all over the world and it’s very suitable for this application as well. Christoffer: Depending on the tank type and the existing conditions, the solution can be implemented in several ways. But the basic principle of operation is the same for all of these. You have three or more, you can have up to six level gauges, are installed to monitor the position on the floating roof. So it’s measured to the roof. And then it’s measuring these values and comparing them against each other and against a primary level device to detect any anomaly such as roof tilting or sinking. So it’s basically calculating the difference between the different level points. You can also add drain sump monitoring, for example, in combination with this. So you can use a level switch to detect a clogged or a closed drain like Per mentioned before. And in addition to this extra device, you can also add hydrocarbon detectors to integrate into this monitoring software to detect any product leaks onto the tank roof. Jim: So, Per, can you give our listeners a picture of the process of what it takes to set up these monitoring solutions? Per: Yeah, sure. I mean, there are two basic principles here. There’s shell mounted installation and there is roof mounted installation. And in the case of shell mounted, you would use non-contacting radar, specifically the Rosemount 5408 Radar Level Transmitter or the 5900C Radar Level Gauge. And you would use, as Christoff has said, minimum three of these and they are installed at equal distances from each other on the tank wall at the very top of the tank. Directly below each radar, you place reflector plates to enable measurements without disturbances even if the surface is uneven, or if there are object protruding from the roof, or if there happens to be a heavy snowfall, or anything like that. And then the tilt of the roof is tracked simply by comparing the distance from each gauge down to the floating roof or the reflector. That’s the non-contacting solution. It’s very accurate. It’s very, very reliable. It can be retrofitted to existing tanks without taking the tank top out of operation. If you add the ordinary level measurement as a reference to the system, you can also monitor the buoyancy of the roof to see if it’s floating higher or lower than it should be or than it normally does. Christoffer: And then we have the second type of installation which is the roof mounted installation using a guided wave radar gauge. So this is an alternative solution where you can use up to six guided wave radar transmitters, between three and six, directly on the floating roof itself. You’re using a rigid probe penetrating through the roof and into the liquid, and then you track the roof tilt by comparing the distance from the floating roof down to the product surface, and you will also track the roof buoyancy with this solution. So it’s almost working in an inverted way from the non-contacting version, but the result is the same. And one major advantage you get with this on-roof configuration is that it’s 100% wireless. It’s a battery-powered solution where we use the Rosemount 3308 Wireless Guided Wave Radar, so no strings at all attached. Jim: So I can visualize both ways. One, you’re kind of fixing it on the tank itself measuring down to where the roof position is, non-contacting radar. The other, you’re actually mounting the instruments on the roof itself into the liquid down to compare between those. That makes sense. So, Per, what does a fully automated approach look like? Per: Well, so beyond the level gauges on the tank, the data can be transmitted either wired or through wireless communication to the control room, where an operator can monitor the roof status. And you can also add more instruments to the tank for more extensive monitoring as we’ve maybe mentioned a bit earlier, I think. For example, you can monitor the drain sump to make sure it isn’t clogged or it’s not overflowing. Or you could monitor for water gathering on the roof itself. For that we would use the Rosemount 2160 Wireless Vibrating Fork Switch. But you could also detect if there are hydrocarbons that are accumulating or pooling on the roof itself by using a Rosemount 702 Wireless Transmitter with Liquid Hydrocarbon Detection attached to that. So there’s really much useful data that you could gather from up there on the tank. And then with the software in the control room, you would get automatic alarms for, you know, roof tilts, buoyancy, roof sticking, as well then as for drain sump blockage, or hydrocarbon detection. Jim: Yeah, that sounds like you have a really good picture remotely there of what’s going on with the tank. So I guess, Chris, what are some common concerns about adapting to an automated approach as opposed to what’s historically been done through a manual approach? Christoffer: Well, if the question is should I go for a roof mounted installation with guided wave radar, or should I go for the shell mount version using non-contacting radar, it [inaudible 00:21:19] really possible to give any general recommendations like that because all tanks are different. They have different characteristics. I mean, it’s like when you go to a terminal, every tank has its own personality almost. It all depends on what suits best for each particular tank. It’s going to depend on things like what kind of tank openings and nozzles are available on the roof. What kind of infrastructure is already in place such as when it comes to power and communication cabling or if you have any existing wireless networks already on the site, and also what kind of instrumentation you already have installed on the tank itself. So there’s no really hard rules. There is one recommendation for best practice is if you’re using an internal roof tank, there are external and internal floating roof tanks. So if you’re using the internal floating roof tank, it needs a shell mounted installation using non-contacting radar. Per: I think the beauty of the system that we have is that you’re entirely free to combine the two technologies. You can have roof mounted monitoring on some of the tanks and then use shell mounted on some of the other ones. And you can have wireless data transfer for one tank and wired communication to all the others. And in the end, it’s all integrated into the same system. So there’s a large degree of freedom there in regards of installation. Jim: So, Chris, let me ask, how would you sum up performance gains by using these automatic floating roof monitoring solutions? Christoffer: Well, in short, installing automatic floating roof monitoring is all about increasing reliability and safety by moving from being reactive to being proactive. Whereas previously, floating roofs could suddenly fail without notice, and now, if you automate it, you can have means to continuously monitor the health, if you will, of the roof. You get early indications if the roof is not behaving as normal. You can send personnel out to properly inspect it when needed. Based on the findings, you will be able to schedule and plan repairs and maintenance. This, as opposed to discovering a problem only after an incident has occurred and then having to deal with all of the consequences we mentioned before like fire prevention measures, cleaning up, reporting missions, regulation violations, potentially having to take the tank out of service, and not to mention, damage to people or property, and many other… Per: And in addition to this, there’s just the fact that there is less need to send personnel out into the field into the hazardous area for routine inspection rounds potentially in bad or even dangerous weather conditions. Jim: Well, it sounds like this automatic monitoring can provide a lot of information and help people better understand when there’s a problem early and be able to go deal with it for safer and more reliable operations for the tank farms. So where can our listeners go to learn more? And if they have specific questions coming out of this podcast, how can they get a hold of y’all? Christoffer: For more information, you can go to our webpage for tank gauging which is located at emerson.com/rosemount-tankgauging. And you can also visit our other website for the overall terminal safety initiative which is emerson.com/terminal-safety. When it comes to contact, you can always contact us on LinkedIn. Jim: I know you guys are active in LinkedIn, so that’s a great way to get a hold of you. All right, well, I know I’ve learned a tremendous amount about the different types of tanks and the different types of ways that we can make sure things are operating correctly. So I want to thank you both, Per and Chris, for joining us today and sharing your knowledge and experience with our listeners. Thank you very much. Christoffer: Thank you for having us. Per: Thank you for having us.
9 minutes | 6 months ago
Storage Terminal Safety Podcast Series
Storage terminals play a critical role in the movements of hydrocarbon-related products through their supply chains. Because large tanks handle hazardous and flammable fluids, safety is of paramount concern. In a series of storage terminal safety podcasts, Emerson experts will share ways that safety, environmental and operational risks can be mitigated. Emerson’s Manuel Arroyo, Director, Oil & Gas Industry Programs kicks off this podcast series by highlighting some of the risks & challenges and previews some of the technologies that can help these terminals improve safety, environmental compliance and terminal operations. Next in this podcast series, we explore Remote and Continuous Floating Roof Monitoring. https://www.emersonautomationexperts.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Manuel-Arroyo-Introduction-to-Storage-Terminal-Safety-Series.mp3 You can subscribe to this series and other Emerson Automation Experts podcasts in Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn & Amazon. Transcript Jim: Hi, everybody. I’m Jim Cahill from the Emerson Automation Experts blog. And today I’m joined by Manuel Arroyo, and we’re gonna be discussing storage terminal safety as part of the enabling storage terminal safety series. Welcome, Manuel. Manuel: Thank you, Jim. And hi, everyone. My name is Manuel Arroyo, oil and gas industry leader and subject matter expert at the Emerson Automation Solution. Welcome to our new podcast series on storage terminal, and it’s all about safety. It goes without saying that it is more important than ever to ensure that the storage terminals are efficient and operational. This year as a result of the COVID-19 and the decrease of the crude oil demand, producers and logistic companies need to find places to store that product and building infrastructure will take in between 12 to 24 months. Jim: So, Manuel, how is the industry growing? And how is it affecting facility managers? Manuel: Well, you know, terminals need to find a way to increase capacity. So terminal business is around capacity. So the global storage terminal market size is projected to reach around $37 billion by 2027. So on this industry, by nature, it is a high-risk industry. So facilities managers understand the need for increased capacity and safety plays a vital role over there so minimizing these risks can affect the overall oil and gas supply chain. Jim: So in this storage terminal safety podcast series, what are you and your colleagues planning to cover? Manuel: Well, my colleagues and I are always finding ways to use the new and existing technologies to reimagine and make our customers’ storage terminal facilities more efficient and safer for employees on call. Do you know, since 2000, we report 75 incidents in the terminals where 242 employees were killed and 1600 injured, and there were losses about $10 billion? So we wanted to share our experience with you and inform you on the recent innovations in digital technology, so you can stay up-to-date and make the right operational decisions for your storage terminal facilities. Another thing, reduce safety risk, increase your shell capacity, and reduce cost. In our storage terminal safety podcast series, we will discuss the beneficial how wireless valve position monitoring help, tank protection systems like a pressure flame and blanketing system, continuous surveillance of floating roof movements, and corrosion and erosion monitoring systems. That can help you to create a safe work environment and improve your operations. Jim: Yeah, it sounds like wireless technology is increasingly used in different monitoring applications. So why is choosing to monitor with wireless devices such a growing trend? And how could automating with wireless valve position monitoring help make these storage terminals safer? Manuel: Yeah, that’s a good question, Jim. You know, the terminal industry… it is not new. So terminals were built years ago and right now they handle a really wide range of liquid products, not just two or three, like in the past. So they became more complex facilities. And valves that used to be most of the time closed or open, now, they have to change position constantly and require, you know, increase the visibility, what the position of that valve is from the operator, so to avoid cross-contamination and potential incidents. Typical way to automate valves, it is high cost and wireless is a great option to increase that visibility and kind of a low-cost solution for them. Jim: So how is modernizing these facilities creating a safer environment for the staff there and preventing explosions? As you said, it’s very volatile end-products that they’re storing. Manuel: Yeah, absolutely. You know, new technologies allow to have better pressure control. In order to manage the pressure with normal operation and there are many opposite situation in a safety manner. Actually, a few months ago, there was an explosion in Southeast Texas where two people were injured. And those are not the reasons that companies want to be in the newspaper, right? Jim: I know companies want to stay out of the newspaper beyond just the safety and the health of the employees, the damage to the brand that can bring. That’s not good at all. Now, I know with these tanks, there is different fix roofs and floating roofs and different types of ways that there set up. Are floating roofs preferred to other ways of doing it? And what other associated maintenance challenges do they have? Manuel: Yeah, floating roofs are widely used… really, really wide use in this industry. But these floating roofs with time, they lose the seal. They start thickening and with the high risk to get a spark. So, by the way, the majority of the fires reported since 2000, the 70 that I mentioned, were just because the seal leaks and mechanical failures. And that’s the reason of all those challenges. Jim: Is corrosion and erosion a problem that this industry faces like other industries? Manuel: Yeah, well, I mean, terminal managers, they have several tons of steel sitting there from jetties in contact with salt water when they have marine terminals to tanks that they’d receive rain all the time and corrosion is a risk at their facilities all the time. Lack of visibility can cost millions of dollars if they lose that containment. Jim: Yeah, and I guess traditionally manual inspection was the way to do it but there’s opportunities for automation to come into play, I imagine. Manuel: That is correct. And, again, wireless has been the right solution to face all those different challenges that we didn’t face in the past. Jim: Well, I really look forward to some of the future podcasts going into some of these areas and different ways to monitor, to help… because you’re right, in the world where everything was manual inspections and other things, the results and the safety risks are great in that way. So, Manuel, where can our listeners go to learn more? And how can they get in touch if they want to contact you directly? Manuel: Yeah, we invite you to learn directly from our experts by tuning into the storage terminal safety podcast series. So you can also go to emerson.com/terminal-safety to learn more. And if you want to get in contact with me, you can find me on LinkedIn, Manuel Arroyo. Jim: Well, that’s a great introduction, and we look forward to speaking with all of the experts and bringing it out to our listeners. So, Manuel, thank you so much for joining us today. Manuel: Thank you, Jim. End of transcript.
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