Whether on the job or at home, access to fuel is critical for many people in their day-to-day lives. In most cases, fuel comes from one or more standalone gas tanks installed on-site at a business or residence. When gas levels in these tanks get low, Tanker trucks arrive on-site to fill them on a periodic delivery schedule.
Both fuel suppliers and customers closely monitor the levels of these fuel tanks in order to identify which need filling and to ensure they are filled to the correct level.
The practice of monitoring gas tank fuel levels is important in a variety of use cases:
Knowing the current fuel levels in these gas tanks is crucial to determining which tanks need to be filled and when. For many industries, the most widely used method is manual checking of the gas level. This can be done by inspecting the tank’s gauge, fill line, or other display. This presents a number of challenges:
Relying on manual checks can result in tanks that are either not filled often enough or filled too often. The outcomes of both are the same: increased overall costs. On one hand, not being filled often enough or entirely missed fills (as a product of slow or inaccurate readings) can result in reduced production or at worse a complete stop in operations. On the other end, overly frequent filling means the supplier makes visits to tanks that don’t actually need filling, resulting in an inefficient use of transportation resources that ultimately drives up cost.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is uniquely positioned to address the biggest challenges of gas tank level monitoring. By offering solutions that are easy to install and maintain with readings that are taken automatically, frequently, and accurately every time, IoT provides organizations the ability to remotely monitor thousands of tanks in real-time. Additional advantages include:
All of the above contribute to cost savings and improved customer service. By optimizing fill routes and saving on labor that would otherwise be spent manually checking tanks, organizations can maximize efficiency and revenue per fill. With alerts and forecasting in place, they can ensure that customer’s gas tanks won’t ever go empty even in the face of rapidly changing conditions.
An IoT gas tank level monitoring solution will employ several layers of technology:
For sensors, important considerations include cost, installation ease, battery life, and measurement frequency. There are some inherent tradeoffs between these attributes; for example, a sensor that measures once every 30 minutes may have a longer battery life than one that measures once every two hours. Likewise, a device that has a hardened weatherproof rating and is more durable will be more expensive than one that is not weatherproof-rated.
In addition, the mechanism by which the sensor measures fill level is important for a reliable reading. The best measurement method may depend on the exact fuel you’re measuring in the gas tank in addition to factors such as the cost of the device. Sensor options include:
A strong option for network is a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN). LPWANs are designed for IoT communication that is low bandwidth and long distance, and as a result, is 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 gas tanks. Potential LPWAN options include:
With so many options in hardware, network capabilities, and features, there’s almost certainly a gas tank level monitoring solution out there to suit your needs.