Use IoT to remotely monitor tanks and storage bins in real-time to decrease costs, optimize resources, and gain powerful new insights.
Fill level monitoring is crucial to a variety of industries and simply means checking the fill levels of tanks or storage bins to ensure that they don’t overflow and that they don’t run out. Much like Goldilocks, you don’t want too much or too little, you want the fill level just right.
So what are the tanks and storage bins filled with? It depends on the industry, and could include:
Whether it’s liquid, solid, or gas, maintaining the proper fill level is critical in all instances. This is true for the companies using the materials as well as for the companies supplying the materials. Too little material can mean halting production, too little coolant/lubricant can mean damage to machinery, too little fuel can mean stopping construction or farming, and in some cases too little can even mean danger to human safety. On the other end, too much of a given resource can mean wasted money or can even overflowing tanks that lead to expensive clean up.
To avoid having too much or too little in a tank or storage bin, you need to know the current fill level. However, for many industries the current standard is to check manually. Manually checking the fill level of tanks and storage bins comes with a number of problems:
These problems with manually checking aren’t new, and there have been attempts to instrument tanks and storage bins with fill level detectors to automatically collect this information. However, many of these attempts have relied on wired connections for data transfer and power, which have limited their effective range, or else used wireless approaches that are too expensive to support.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the next stage of digital transformation and means that, for the first time, businesses can remotely monitor thousands of tanks in real-time and completely transform their organizations. The technologies that make this possible are covered below, but the benefits include:
The above benefits only cover the real-time data. As you begin collecting millions of data points on fill levels, you can begin applying machine learning to uncover extremely powerful insights and begin predicting into the future.
As with any IoT solution, the particular technology approach depends on specific needs. Every IoT solution requires sensors to capture data (in this case, fill level), a network to communicate the data from the sensors to the cloud, and then software to ingest, analyze, and present the data to end users in an interface and/or to trigger and send alerts (text, email, push, etc.).
For sensors, you want to consider the cost of the sensor, ease of install and maintenance, and battery life, regardless of what you’re measuring. However, the best sensor type will depend on what you’re measuring in the tank or storage bin. Some viable sensor options include:
For network, you want a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) as these are optimized to be low cost and low battery drain. However, the best LPWAN type will depend on the number, location, and geographic spread of the tanks or storage bins. Some potential LPWAN options include: