To meet increasingly strict customer requirements, terminals are upgrading their operations. However, most terminals rely on slow, error-prone manual valve operations. These days, manual operations can be significantly accelerated and secured, without complete automation of all valve operations.
Many terminals have low automation grades
About a third of the almost 5.000 bulk liquid terminals worldwide were built prior to the year 2000. Many of these terminals are operated with limited and aged process automation and are equipped with hundreds of manual valves. Lining up these valves for product transfer requires manual labor and visual checks to ensure flawless operation.
Manually lining-up valves is time-consuming and error-prone
Manual valve line-ups rely on verbal communication, manual operations, and visual checks to ensure the desired outcome.
Operators are often verbally instructed about the required valve positions through paper check-lists or via walkie-talkie. Language barriers lost check-lists and bad walkie-talkie signals easily distort messages. Valves are skipped or wrong valves are operated.
Manually operating a vast number of valves within a short time-frame is exhausting and time-consuming. Mistakes are easily made and initially go unnoticed.
Line-ups are checked according to the ‘four-eye-principle’. A colleague or inspector visually checks the position of each valve and confirms the valve positions to the control room via walkie-talkie.
Improve bottom-line results without automation
The reliance on human interaction and checks means a high risk of failure and takes too much time. Even for aged terminals, operations can substantially improve without the need for large investments in automation.
Terminals can bridge the gap between checklist based and fully automated operations by connecting their manual valve operations with their terminal control system. They can have manual operations monitored or authorized by their control system, thus ensuring first time right operations and creating real-time insight in their processes.