On 27th May 2020, Tank Storage Magazine began a new venture – online professional seminars from industry experts. The first one, entitled ‘Accelerate the Future of Your Terminal, Today’, was given by John Colpo, Principal Analyst, Oil and Gas, at Honeywell.
“We partnered with Tank Storage Magazine to help us maximise our reach with terminal operators around the globe – they covered all the bases on a promotional front, were flexible to our needs, and their industry knowledge all contributed to an easy partnership and successfully executed webinar,” says Liliana M. Pereira, Global Customer Marketing at Honeywell Process Solutions.
Colpo looked at the technology options available for the digital transformation of terminal operations. Here, we will give an outline of some of his main points.
While the digital transformation of industry began in the 1970s with advent of more accessible computers and the internet, it is more recently that it has really taken off. The physical footprint of computing and networking has reduced dramatically, coinciding with an exponential increase in processing power and bandwidth, and huge price drops. Combine this with the availability of the Cloud, device connectivity and wireless technology, and we have some very powerful tools available to improve practices and more easily achieve business goals.
Colpo said that digital transformation may be particularly relevant in the current COVID-19 scenario. Terminals generally count as, at a minimum, essential business, and often as critical infrastructure, therefore must prioritise business continuity. Digital transformation supports such COVID-19 measures as social distancing, working from home, reducing staffing, remote operations, graceful degradation of services, as well as facilitating a return to normal.
THE FIVE PILLARS OF DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION
Colpo started by outlining the accepted five pillars of successful digital transformation programs:
- Leadership and effective planning – this is vital as digital transformation will cause radical change, so direction from the top must be strong.
- Customers’ omniexperience – petroleum distribution facilities, for example, have a range of business models with many customers, and it is important to be able to market to the broadest range of customers in a full competitive sales environment, ensuring the best experience for everyone.
- Operating model – digital transformation can develop flexibility through the use of digitally connected products, services assets, people and trading partners, maintaining competitiveness and allowing a rapid response in changing market conditions.
- Worksource – internal and external resources can be integrated, including staff, contractors and specialists, who can then be deployed across terminals where they can be most effective.
- Information – terminals are often considered a low value-add part of businesses and investment can be low. Using information gathered about customers, markets, transactions, services, products, physical assets and business experiences can be transformational.
One example where digital transformation has already had an effect is in vehicle fuel distribution. In the US for example, the number of customer filling stations has fallen from its peak of around 200,000 in the 1980s to around 120,000 now, while the number of marketing terminals has dropped from around 3,000 to around 1,900. Colpo said that this is due to a range of changes, including Third Party Access for tanker filling stations supported by computer based Exchanges such as TABS, and the addition of additive injectors, allowing multiple brands to refill from the same terminal, the move away from paper-based to computer systems, and biometric and RFID tagging for trucks and drivers.
There are many opportunities to improve performance at an average terminal. The first one Colpo mentioned was unused capacity. An average size marketing terminal with four or five tanks and three loading bays has a theoretical capacity of 360 trucks per day, but the global reality is nearer 50. This is largely due to business models for example, preventing marketing to wholesalers, but also things like congestion at peak hours and a facility largely unused overnight. This unused capacity can be released without large CAPEX spending.
Simplification and standardisation is key to improving terminal operations. This enables, for example, using fewer staff at each terminal, who are generalists rather than specialists. The use of automation, predictive maintenance, supply chain optimisation and improved safety and security automation, makes this possible. Automated forecasting of retail replenishment should be prioritised to avoid returns and stockouts, and bay utilisation should be maximised.
‘Terminal operations can at best provide a faithful execution of corporate enterprise strategy, and many terminal operations are best handled at the corporate level, leaving automation to handle physical operations as far as possible at the terminal facility,’ said Colpo.
Standardisation means that operations can be centralised, and terminals can be operated remotely by a core group of people. It also means benchmarks are more easily monitored and achieved. An integrated terminal automation system, like Honeywell’s, makes this possible.
EXPERION PKS AND TERMINAL MANAGER
Honeywell’s Terminal Manager system, which uses its award-winning Experion® PKS as a platform, has been redeveloped to achieve world benchmarks in operations such as gate-to-gate times, loading times, inventory minimisation, capacity utilisation, and HSE. It can integrate safety systems, cyber and physical security, replenishment and truck fleet management.
Terminal Manager has four main components, the first of which is managing local terminals, the central core of the system. On the next level, Enterprise, is a consolidated view of multiple terminals at the corporate level. There is a web portal allowing access for external stakeholders such as jobbers and customers, and finally, an application to allow slot booking for drivers and carriers, allowing a quicker turnaround and avoiding congestion.
Terminal Manager and Enterprise are intranet applications and not available externally. The web portal and slot booking application are secure, internet-based applications.
Terminal Manager uses Experion as a backbone for SCADA and DCS operations and can integrate with ERP systems such as JDEdwards, Microsoft Dynamics and VEGA.
The integrated systems and simple dashboard make it possible to see how each terminal is performing, which need attention, and which have spare slots. An order fulfilled at one site is recorded at the Enterprise level so it cannot be fulfilled elsewhere, improving site security. An incident at one terminal can quickly be spotted at the Enterprise level, allowing emergency services to be sent quickly to the right place, while carriers can be easily redirected to another terminal. Invoicing is also made simpler as order data from all the terminals is in one place.
At the Enterprise level it is possible to see how each terminal is performing, which need attention, and which have spare slots. Best practice from the best performing terminals can be easily disseminated throughout the business. Inventory information and demand forecasting is readily available. The system can interact with the Transport Security Authority so that the list of cancelled TWIC cards is always up-to-date and such drivers cannot enter the terminals. Terminals can be run on continuous improvement mode.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CYBER AND PHYSICAL SECURITY
Another major benefit is in cyber security and reduced IT costs. Colpo said that traditionally, each individual site would require its own antivirus software, backups, and patches, with all the storage capacity and network bandwidth that entails, as well as associated concerns around whether anything would work the same after the patches were implemented. Through its Connected Plant for Terminals, which runs in the Cloud, Honeywell can ensure that everything is maintained in one, centralised location, and make sure that the patches work with high reliability. Honeywell’s Security Center can monitor cyber security for the Enterprise application in real time to identify attacks.
Experion Industrial Security (EIS) can interface with Terminal Manager to ensure the safety of physical assets through a range of security systems. This includes video surveillance, perimeter intrusion detection (PID) with multi technology sensors and fibreoptic systems, radar video surveillance with early warning of intrusion and advanced lighting systems, for example that can be triggered precisely where there is a PID alarm, acting as a deterrent. Alarms can trigger and direct CCTV so an operator can see exactly what is going on.
EIS can also help to monitor the safety of staff. For example, the system can prevent staff clocking in who have not had the mandatory rest periods between shifts. Fatigued workers are a danger to everyone. It can also block access to staff trying to access areas or operate machinery they are not permitted to.
MITIGATING FIRE AND GAS RISKS
Honeywell offers a range of fire and gas protection systems, which are of course vital in terminal operations. Colpo said that these too, interface with Experion PKS and Terminal Manager. Solutions include fire detection alarms, gas and flame detection, TUV certified safety controllers for automatic activation of safety-related shutdowns, PA systems to aid evacuations and fire suppression systems. Alarms and alerts appear on the overview for the operator.
Emergency Response functionality guides operators smoothly through standard operating procedures in real time, and can be integrated with mobile devices.
Drills can also be easily carried out using the full system capability.
Honeywell also offers personal gas safety through wearable gas and safety detectors connected back to the control centre operator through any of a number of systems, including radio, wifi, Bluetooth or wireless mesh. If an operator is exposed to a dangerous level of a gas, or falls off a gantry, the detector sends a signal, which activates an alarm on the operator console, showing them exactly where the potentially injured operator is and what has happened, allowing them to respond appropriately. Colpo pointed out that such a system will be particularly useful if sites are looking to reduce staffing.
Terminals planning a digital transformation need not spend large amounts on wiring. Honeywell offers the OneWireless Terminal solution, which Colpo said is around 50% cheaper than traditional wiring and is installed in around a fifth of the time. It allows all systems to be connected, including wearable devices like those mentioned above, monitoring systems and security systems.
USE YOUR DATA
Colpo rounded off the webinar by looking at the insights from data and information that can be gained through the use of integrated, digital systems like Terminal Manager.
Data gathered can be used for predictive maintenance in a plant, which Colpo likened to the way tyres are managed on a car – estimating the last moment at which they must be replaced before an accident becomes likely and replacing them only then – which, where possible, is the most cost-effective method. This is different to preventative maintenance, such as changing your oil every 12 months, which is effective but can be wasteful in a large facility.
Terminal Manager, through its Predictive Maintenance module, can gather sample measurements from devices, sensors and manual inspections, input these into equipment, thermodynamic and fault models, and recommend the best course through notifications or work order triggers.
An operator or shift manager can also use information from Terminal Manager to their advantage, as it allows them to see at a glance the demand at each bay, what is loading and unloading, which bays are busy (or not), queue length, individual loading time and leakages, allowing them to easily see performance.
Data such as average bay utilisation, average number of loads and product distribution can be looked at, wait times can be viewed by dispatchers to identify the next terminal to send a carrier to, and the data can be shared across multiple mobile devices securely over the internet.
‘More oil and gas logistics players are moving towards Cloud-hosted solutions to save cost, simplify operational headaches and take advantage of the opportunity for outsourcing and business continuity,’ said Colpo.
ACCELERATE THE FUTURE
Digitally transforming businesses can have huge advantages and result in better operational modes, better capacity utilisation, simpler systems, reduced maintenance costs, and continual improvements that would not otherwise be possible in legacy terminals.
For more information: To request a copy of this webinar please contact Margaret@tankstoragemag.com