Product review

EXHIBITOR presentations provided the latest on products ranging from wireless radio systems to loading arms. The presentations were made at the 2005 Independent Liquid Terminals Association International Operating Conference and Trade Show June 6-8 in Houston, Texas.

Taking part in the June 7 discussions were: Michael Stappert, Control Systems International; Jon Quy-Verlander, Emco Wheaton USA; Colin Lippincott, Free Wave Technologies; and Ivan Melnyk, Photon Control Inc.

Control Systems International

Stappert gave attendees a look at automation and information management systems for petroleum and other bulk distributors, and what services are required to handle growing technological advances. Products are used for terminal automation; truck, rail, and marine loading, tank farms, pipeline control and monitoring, process plant control, and business transaction management.

“The business dynamics of the terminal industry have changed dramatically in the last 20 years,” Stappert said. “Larger corporations are buying out smaller companies. Large corporations are reorganizing their supply-chain management to deal with truly global operations.

“As we move into this new era, companies are realizing the true cost of isolated, non-integrated automation solutions that create roadblocks to the movement of real-time data, add to the cost of obtaining data, and increase the long-term cost of maintaining a supply-chain automation infrastructure.”

He discussed how large bulk liquid distributors design their business systems to take greater advantage of the data that is available to them and how companies share data with their business partners — how that benefits all parties involved in the supply chain. The presentation described how company personnel previously concerned with automating individual terminals have evolved into sophisticated managers who must process real-time information that has enterprise-wide importance.

As the industry changes, he predicted smaller terminal automation suppliers or newcomers to this industry will find that they do not have the critical investment in their product to compete and predicted more business moving toward companies with sophisticated, proven, enterprise-wide terminal automation solutions focused on reducing the risk and increasing the profitability of the operation.

Emco Wheaton USA

Quy-Verlander discussed differences in loading arms used in different parts of the world. “The delivery program extends from a plain loading arm to complex systems that are designed with state-of-the-art technology,” he said. “These completely different environments and the wide range of fluids to be transferred, from cocoa mass to sulfuric acid, require careful material selection and design.”

Just as the environment and liquid media being loaded vary, so do the products. They range from marine loading systems for ocean and river tank vessels, to loading systems for tank trucks and railcars, storage tank equipment, folding access stairways and fall protection systems, swivel joints, Surelok couplers, dry break couplers, and grounding devices.

Complicating equipment design is the vast range of international rules and regulations. All products have to meet international standards that govern products use, Quy-Verlander pointed out.

Company engineers must have in-depth knowledge and training to handle wide ranging customer demands, and service engineers are on call and ready for duty at any time in order to execute maintenance or repair work at any place in the world.

Moreover, worldwide spare parts service for the varying uses must provide timely delivery that reduces any potential downtimes to a minimum.

FreeWave Technologies

Lippincott provided information about wireless systems for SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) applications that can be used to track tank volume and gather data from loading racks. The monitoring systems can be configured to handle site security and manage vehicles while they are within the facility. Other uses include monitoring product temperature and tank pressures.

Companies should first understand the objectives for the system, how much data is to be moved, how often is it to be moved, from where is it coming, and to where is it going.

Any time radios are to be deployed it is critical to the success of the project to do a preliminary path study and system design. When this phase of the project is properly done, the installers will have all of the information needed to order the hardware required, kit-up equipment for each location prior to deployment (put kits with antennas, cables, and accessories together for each location), and preprogram the radios for each specific location. The installation crews will know where repeaters are to be located, he pointed out.

Users can determine whether to use commercial towers or erect their own. A properly designed system should be able to easily accommodate growth and expansion. The most important feature is a radio that has an over-the-air data speed that is significantly faster than that of the flow computers, he said.

Photon Control Inc

Melnyk discussed products under development that use light (photons) for systems measuring, reporting, and controlling temperature, pressure, and flow. He said he anticipates this market will expand throughout various industries.

“Optical systems offer a number of advantages for measuring various industrial parameters — accuracy, range, high process pressure and temperature, and fast time response, which are particularly suitable for online measurement,” he said.

The company recently introduced a sulfur analyzer for liquid hydrocarbons such as diesel, gasoline, liquefied natural gas, jet fuel, marine fuel, and clean oil. The device has several operating ranges that cover all practical applications from ultra-low sulfur diesel (maximum sulfur content 50 ppm, detectable limit 0.1 ppm) to as high as 5,000 ppm with resolution of 0.1 ppm with measuring time as fast as 0.5 min.

This product would be a way to measure total sulfur in ultra-light diesel fuel in anticipation of a new Environmental Protection Agency regulation.

An industrial pressure and temperature sensors for industrial environments address hazardous materials classifications. They are used in environments where intense magnetic or electrical fields can cause interference, or in hazardous environments where electricity produces the possibility of explosion or shorting.

Another Photon product line represents optical gas flow meters for natural gas, flare and vent gas metering, and optical steam flow and steam quality meters.

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