Cures for Common Tank Gauging Problems

Accurately knowing the level in liquid storage tanks is not only important from a safety standpoint, it’s important to know for accounting, finance, and sales perspective. Accurate and reliable tank gauging systems can improve the performance of the oil & gas, refining, chemical & petrochemical, and other industries that have these storage tanks as part of their process.

Emerson’s Ulf Johannesson


Emerson’s Ulf Johannesson has shared some of his insights in a new whitepaper, How to Cure 7 Common Tank Gauging Headaches. The whitepaper explains how to solve seven of the most common issues, mistakes or misunderstandings which frequently occur.

Whitepaper: How to Cure 7 Common Tank Gauging HeadachesThese include lack of tank gauging system scalability and flexibility, inadequate safety systems, inaccurate measurements, obsolete components, complicated user interface software, frequent maintenance for mechanically-based tank gauging systems, and little to no lifecycle support for these systems.

From scalability and flexibility standpoint:

Older systems lack flexibility to use different gauging technologies, and they lack the scalability necessary to add devices, instruments and measurements. Consequently, users believe they are stuck with their existing installations just as they are, and there is nothing they can do about it… Today’s systems are capable of working with a wide variety of new and old measuring technologies, and they make adding of new devices much easier. Selecting tank gauging devices should not be a one-size-fits-all approach, but should instead be a flexible process to accommodate a wide variety of applications and performance requirements.

A modern tank gauging system provides the flexibility to combine devices into a complete system:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The tank gauging software should:

…work with a variety of old and current protocols, bringing together many product families and specialized field devices. A data concentrator, for example a tank hub, can combine the data from multiple field devices connected to a specific tank, or even a group of tanks to make the installation cost effective and reliable. Level gauges, temperature sensors, water level sensors and other devices can be combined so they are accessible in a new or legacy network effectively.

The role of safety instrumented systems is to prevent overfill and other dangerous conditions from occurring. Unfortunately, many:

…plants and tank farms were built before today’s safety standards were widely distributed and followed. Overfill prevention might be nothing more than strategically placed mechanical switches designed to stop the flow in the nick of time. Unfortunately, few of these meet the requirements of IEC 61508 / 61511, and bringing older equipment into compliance is now more critical.

Continuously level monitoring radar level gauges:

…provide a safety system with continuous surveillance of a tank’s contents, whether the level is going up, down or remaining static. Radar level gauges are certified and proven in use for storage tank safety applications, and are a critical part of an IEC 61508/61511, SIL 2 or SIL 3 as well as an API 2350 compliant system.

Download the whitepaper for more on cures for inaccurate measurements, obsolete components, complicated user interface software, frequent maintenance for mechanically-based tank gauging systems, and little to no lifecycle support for these systems.

You can also connect and interact with other tank gauging experts in the Tank Gauging group in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.