Streamlining Comprehensive Proof-Testing of Inventory Tanks 

The session at the Emerson Exchange EMEA 2024 described improvements for a tank terminal in Antwerp. Dirk van Baelen, Emerson Area Sales Manager for Measurement Solutions in Flanders, described the improvement process in detail.

  • Streamlining Comprehensive Proof-Testing of Inventory Tanks 
    Streamlining Comprehensive Proof-Testing of Inventory Tanks 

Tanks need safety, especially large tanks. Equipment must be regularly inspected and documented to fulfil safety and governmental requirement. ITC Rubis in Antwerp stores and handles flammable and toxic chemical liquids and liquefied gases, which makes safety a key issue for people and the environment. They started in 2008 and are still expanding their tanks from time to time. At the moment, the facility has a total storage capacity of around 225,000 m³, with loading and unloading facilities for ships and trains.

When the overfill protection system needed to be upgraded, they asked Emerson to come up with a solution that was easier to use than the one they had installed. The old installation used a radar sensor for level measurement and a vibrating fork assembly for overfill protection. The new solution was to solve several problems. Workers should not have to climb to the top of a tank to perform the test, as heights of up to 30 m are an immediate hazard. The potential risk of emissions from opening the tanks should be eliminated, and finally the risk to the stored products from exposure to oxygen and moisture should be eliminated. The old test regime for comprehensive proof testing of tanks was very time consuming. At best, two people could carry out the tests for 4 tanks, resulting in a total of 19 days for 76 tanks installed.

The solution chosen for the installation was a 5900S 2-in-1 radar gauge, which can operate up to SIL 3 with just one instrument. It contains two independent radar sensors, one for level detection and the other on an independent backup channel for overfill protection. The overfill protection works with a reference reflector in the tank. If this is not possible, the software can even simulate a reflector.

The improvements achieved with the new hardware and software are impressive. No one has to climb on high tanks, and products and the environment are protected from potential contamination. But the most impressive fact is the time saved for ITC Rubis. All 76 tanks can be inspected and documented within a day. That means 37 working days are saved, freeing up experts for other tasks in the company.