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Maintenance-free non-contacting bulk fuel tank monitoring

22 December 2015

Non-contacting ultrasonic volume measurement equipment has been supplied by Pulsar Process Measurement along with associated remote plant mimic software, to help solve an issue for Northern Rail at three different sites. The solution allows for better control of ordering, delivery of fuel as well as enabling it to use fuel more efficiently.

As part of a larger project, Northern Rail’s contractor, Austin-Lenika, had identified that the original level indicators were not designed for the application and were, not correctly reading levels. It approached Pulsar for a solution specifying that new equipment should provide a measurement of the volume of fuel in the bulk tanks with a target of ±1% accuracy, allowing staff on site to monitor fuel usage and transfer and pinpoint the optimum time to re-order fuel. It also wanted to have a local display of level on the storage tanks as well as being able to remotely monitor levels across the tank farm of eight fuel vessels, plus three additional bulk tanks.

Pulsar was able to meet all these demands with its Ultra 3 non-contacting ultrasonic level measurement controllers with associated dB series transducers. The transducers were mounted into flanges at the top of the fuel tanks, and operate on a ‘time of flight’ principle, with an ultrasonic signal reflecting back to the transducer from the surface of the fuel. The measurement also utilises signal processing via Pulsar’s dedicated DATEM software system. In addition, the Pulsar Ultra Controller is able to calculate volume based on almost any standard tank shape, taking the tank dimensions and making the calculations necessary to convert them into the volume of fuel in the tank.

Pulsar also supplied UltraScan software, which uses a Modbus output to provide a screen display of both levels and alarms. UltraScan can operate either on a site basis or can bring together measurements from a variety of sites.

Staff at Northern Rail are using the system effectively today. The system was tested by comparing delivered fuel from a tanker to measured levels from the Pulsar system.  This found a variance of from a 6,000l delivery of ‘within 60l, achieving the desired ±1% target.

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