Low Maintenance Remote Level Monitoring System

maintenance signIf you find yourself visiting a remote tank level monitoring site for troubleshooting and maintenance too often, then you are losing out on the benefit of having a remote monitoring system. This can happen to you when your sensors and their systems are either inadequate or installed improperly. So what can be done to ensure that you don’t end up in this sort of situation?

Here are three critical tips to creating a low maintenance remote monitoring solution:

Don’t Go Cheap on the Sensor

The measurement instrument is central to a remote monitoring system. This is not the component to go cheap on. You can have state of the art support and communication equipment, but if that sensing device is inaccurate or unreliable then the whole system is useless. You will find yourself making regular troubleshooting trips to the site.

Make sure you do your homework on your application. There are a lot of different level sensing technologies and models available on the market. While a sensor may work great in one application, it may not work at all in another – depending on a variety of circumstances. Some standard application specs to look for include:

  • Tank height
  • Tank material
  • Tank fixtures (pipes, agitators)
  • Tank pressure
  • Chemical compatibility
  • Viscosity
  • Vapors
  • Media temperature
  • Hazards
  • Temperature and pressure extremes of the surrounding area

Once you have all of that figured out, consult with your sensor supplier to pick the best instrument for the job.

Be Aware of Communication Limitations

We’ve all experienced the misery of a dropped call on our cell phones. Having sensors go offline takes misery to a whole new level, and especially in critical applications. In situations like this, you are forced to make a trip to the site to ensure the process is not in an alarm state.

Quite often, tank sites are in remote locations with no high-speed landlines. This typically leaves you with two options: cellular and satellite. If there is a cellular network available, do your research to make sure there is adequate signal strength and if possible, talk to other users about overall reliability of the network. In some places, cellular networks are notoriously unreliable.

Satellite is known for its incredible coverage but it has its limitations. Satellite communication is typically more expensive and so you are often left to deal with a smaller and slower bandwidth. Be sure to check the network specs on the sensor or interface device to ensure successful data transmission. You will also need to consider the number of sensors on the network as well as the frequency of call-ins. Pushing too much data can cause lost data packets resulting in an offline sensor.

Protect your Assets

Finally, take the necessary steps to protect your equipment from the elements. You might be surprised, but these final steps of installation often get overlooked. Simple tasks such as running cables through conduit and housing equipment in robust enclosures will do wonders in extending the life and reliability of the system.

Call APG

This may be a shameless plug, but we specialize in reliable remote tank level monitoring sensors. If you have questions about low maintenance remote monitoring of your tanks, we can help. Visit our contact us page or start a live chat to get yourself on the right track.

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top photo credit: Cliff Johnson via flickr cc


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