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Smart Valve Sensors Tested for Storage Terminals

By The Maritime Executive 2019-07-11 18:07:53

Vopak has conducted a pilot test of smart internet of things (IoT) valve sensors in the Port of Rotterdam. The sensors, made by TWTG, are designed to monitor the state of manually-operated valves and make the information available on a dashboard. This is anticipated to bring a greater certainty on the status of the infrastructure (i.e. spillage prevention) and therefore increase safety for Vopak’s workforce. 

The pilot test at Vlaardingen Terminal involved retrofitting battery-powered ATEX and IECEx certified valve sensors using a LoRa WAN I-IoT network. Requirements included an extended ambient temperature operating range of -40 to +80 degrees Celsius, which had to be combined with ultra low power engineering. The network is configured to not send data offsite to ensure cyber security - by preventing external access.

Vopak has 68 terminals and more than 250,000 valves in different variations. “Together with TWTG, we are developing an extra layer of technology in our digital transformation journey to turn smart industrial terminals truly into a reality,” says Leo Brand, CIO of Vopak. Over a three year period (2017-2019), Vopak is investing EUR 100 million ($112 million) in technology, IT and innovation.

Late last year, Vopak tested a variety of robots. The initiatives, conducted in Singapore, included drone inspection, jetty inspection using an underwater remote operated vehicle (ROV), a digital vessel clearance tool and robots for in-service tank inspection. 

Inspections are currently performed by people working inside confined space, which means that assets have to be shutdown to ensure the safety of the inspectors. The use of robots would avoid sending staff into confined spaces, minimize the exposure of personnel to potentially hazardous conditions, reduce downtime and waste water generation and save resources. Likewise, diving remote operated vehicles can already be used to inspect jetties and pipelines, while drones are being tested for the internal inspection of tanks. 

On vessel clearance, traditionally, the operators have to manually check against the vessel specifications, terminal infrastructure data and a list of globally recognized embargoed vessels. With Vopak’s digital vessel clearance tool, operators can tap on internal data-driven platforms to automatically clear vessels in just four clicks and can provide customers with the latest information on when the terminal can accommodate incoming vessels. This service is now available at all of its four terminals in Singapore. Earlier in 2018, Vopak tested the use of sensors to monitor the health of product pumps and rolled out the use of ATEX proof mobile devices at the terminals.