Remote Inventory Management—Magnesium Chloride


Magnesium chloride tanks at a DOT locationDepartments of Transportation (DOTs) in mountain states are under increasing pressure to maintain roadways during the winter months. Snow and ice create dangerous driving conditions, resulting in car accidents and fatalities. This has caused a sharp increase in the use of road de-icing compounds over the last few years, that continues to trend upward.

Liquid De-icer on the Rise

Traditional salt and sand road treatment, while effective, corrodes road surfaces and underlying bridge infrastructure. In addition, salt-water runoff contributes significantly to freshwater pollution. To prevent road degredation and water pollution, DOTs are turning to liquid magnesium chloride, which is less corrosive on road surfaces and has a lower environmental impact.

One mountain state has doubled its use of magnesium chloride in the last two years. The product is stored in twelve thousand gallon tanks at DOT locations throughout the state. At one location, de-icer storage has increased from forty-eight thousand gallons to over one-hundred-thousand gallons, and is being expanded by fifty thousand gallons in the next year.

Growing Pains

Management of this inventory has become a difficult task. Municipalities and DOT districts within the state often share inventory during winter weather events. This sharing must be closely tracked as each district has strict budgetary restraints for their de-icer usage.

During snow events, a district will often order a tanker of de-icer from a supplier only to find, upon delivery, that their tank capacity does not allow for a full delivery. In this case, the district is responsible for the cost of the full tanker load. This is a complete waste of tax-payer dollars, and drains budgets quickly.

Until recently, tank levels were largely managed by manual measurement or estimation by drivers. De-icer inventory is often far away from DOT operation centers. In one case, DOT personnel had to drive 80 minutes round trip, three times in one day, just to monitor usage.

A Better Way

Our remote monitoring system has provided a better way for one mountain state DOT. Inventory managers now have real-time tank level information that is trackable. Manual tank level measurements have been eliminated, along with 80 minute drives and ineffective use of personnel.

Sharing the magnesium chloride is now easy. Each municipality can track exactly how much de-icer it uses, and budgets can be adjusted accordingly. In addition, over-ordering of de-icer is no longer a problem.

Any user within the system can have access to any tank in the region and thereby have an accurate inventory of de-icer not only in his district, but region wide. DOT personnel can configure low-level and abrupt-change alarms which alert them to delivery, usage, and the need to order product. These alarms can be sent via email and text (sms) messages.

As an added bonus, users have access to three years of data from every tank in the system.  As a result, usage history can be used to better plan expansion of storage capacity in the system.

Our remote monitoring system uses ultrasonic sensors and level probes that connect to the Internet and pass level data on to our secure online data portal. Managers and operators simply login to see real-time data.

This solution has worked for any kind of bulk liquid inventory management from used oil recycling to drinking water distribution. Let us know if you have any questions about our remote monitoring system. We're happy to talk about your application challenges.

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