Tank monitoring solutions play an essential role in several industries. Fuel resellers use these devices to plan deliveries and ensure their customers always have fuel. Manufacturing plants rely on them to keep a steady supply of the various chemicals needed for their operations. Even hospitals depend on them to maintain their levels of life-saving gases and other substances.
As you can see, the applications of a tank monitor are extremely varied, and there is a correct device for each of these uses. These devices can seem complicated at first glance, and the options overwhelming. But the selection process should be a breeze if you ask yourself and your tank monitoring partner the right questions.
This article will review the questions you should ask to have the right information and business data during your buying journey.
Tank monitors have greatly evolved in recent years to meet the growing needs of their clientele. From different types of casings, data transmission technology, energy sources, analytic capabilities, integrations and more, the choices you make are important.
If you don’t ask the right questions during the process, you could end up with a device that doesn’t meet your needs, or you could end up overpaying for features you’ll never use.
1. What Are Your Specific Tank Monitoring Needs?
Look at your current operation and collect all data related to your tanks (location, fill frequency, will-call, substance within, etc.). It’s also not a bad idea to make a second evaluation - one that outlines where you’d like to scale your operations. The information you’ll need is the following:
Number of tanks currently monitored
Type of liquid, gas or solid product being monitored
Is the purpose of monitoring to manage inventory, prevent shortages, etc.?
Where is the tank located (urban or rural)?
What are the environmental conditions where your tank is located (sub-zero temperatures in winter, exceedingly hot in summer)?
How often do you need readings?
The answer to these questions will already greatly focus your choices on a few tank monitoring options and will answer some of the following questions in your selection process.
2. What Type of Data Transmission Technology is Most Suitable?
One of the main benefits of modern tank monitors is their ability to wirelessly transmit data back to an online portal or other software. This allows businesses to monitor tank fill levels remotely and use the collected data to forecast their needs.
However, not all data transmission technologies are made equal, and selecting the wrong one for your needs could end up compromising your data’s integrity. The three main data transmission technologies used in tank monitoring are Wi-Fi, Satellite and Cellular. Here’s what you should keep in mind about each of these technologies:
Wi-Fi-based tank monitors are generally used in cities with a reliable Internet connection. They are used for low-impact monitoring since their data can be easily interrupted due to Wi-Fi being prone to interruptions.
Satellite is reserved for extremely isolated locations where Internet and cell tower coverage is unavailable. The connectivity is reliable but much slower than the other two options and tends to be the most expensive solution.
Cellular is the jack-of-all-trades option. Much more reliable and fast than the two other options, especially when using a dual-SIM card like all of Otodata’s tank monitors.
3. What is the Cost Structure of Your Tank Monitor?
Tank monitors are generally easy to install and maintain, but it’s important to take into account the entire installation process so you don’t get surprised by additional costs. Another important question is to ask yourself if you’d like to buy your device outright or lease it from the manufacturer. Depending on your tank monitoring needs, here are the questions you should ask yourself:
The cost of the device itself can vary based on data transmission technology and the type of substance being monitored.
Certain applications require additional industry-specific accessories and equipment.
Tank monitors are mounted outside and sometimes inside the collar of the tank. You might need to purchase a bracket to install your device.
Ask about fees for data transmission since it can vary considerably between cellular, Wi-Fi and satellite.
4. Is Your Tank Monitor Intrinsically Safe?
When selecting a tank monitor, it is important to choose a device that has been certified as intrinsically safe by a third party since these devices are often used on tanks containing fuel and other potentially hazardous materials.
There are many different regulations to ensure that products that are in and around fuel tanks are safe to use. You should enquire about the certifications acquired for the devices before you buy. Here are the most important questions to ask:
Has the device been tested for intrinsic safety by a certified third party? It is important that all third-party certification file numbers and markings are visible on all your tank monitors/packaging.
Has the device undergone local network, FCC and other national regulation testing? This test certifies that the device is safe for humans and doesn’t interfere with other wireless devices and vehicles.
Has the device been certified for recyclability? Even though quality tank monitors can last decades, it is important to select a device that can easily and safely be disposed of at the end of its life.
While these might seem like details, they can quickly become big problems if ignored. Your tank monitoring partner should have all the answers to your questions to keep you in line with local laws and regulations.
5. What Kind of Support and Service is Available?
Just like any piece of hardware, they sometimes require maintenance, troubleshooting, and replacement parts. In most cases, the installation of a tank monitor should be easy, but it’s important to inquire about the training material and support included with the price of your device. Here are some additional questions to ask about support:
What type of training on the installation and use of the device is provided? Will you have direct contact with an account manager should you need help?
Is maintenance included or an extra cost? It’s also a good idea to ask about what is the typical maintenance schedule and failure rate for the device.
Ask about installation and maintenance services they may offer such as a TMAAS (Tank Monitoring as a Service) program.
Ask what the warranty is like; this is also a good indication of the quality of the device in question.
These questions should give you a good idea of what it’ll be like to work with this vendor.
Another interesting subject is to ask about the company’s product roadmap. This will indicate their growth plans and might reveal interesting scaling options for you.
A Tank Monitor for Every Situation
Buying a tank monitor is an important decision that can dramatically impact your business. It’s crucial to take this purchase seriously, and asking the right questions is the way to do it. Use the above list to guide your process, and you should end up with a solution that fits your needs.
Contact us today to test Otodata monitors on your tanks today.