Get smart about your Automatic Tank Gauge investment


Get smart about your Automatic Tank Gauge investment

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iHUB alarm management - maximize ATG Investment - Leighton O'Brien

ATGs provide fuel retailers with the means to meet and monitor regulatory compliance and monitor fuel volumes.

They act like a ‘nervous system’, alerting site operators to a wide range of wetstock and equipment-related events – from a fuel leak to a high-water warning to the fact that the paper roll in an ATG needs replacing. But a proliferation of false alarms and faulty tank charts has turned this nervous system into a nervous wreck.

As our CEO Chris Cooper commented recently, “It is data which often differentiates good leaders from great leaders, no matter the industry.”

That being said, how can companies reduce the noise and make the most of their alarm data to make strategic, informed decisions?


Not all alarms created are equal

When it comes to managing ATG alarms, one of the problems fuel retailers face – particularly those with a large network of sites – is the fact that not all alarms are equal, and yet they’re often treated as such.

Industry data suggests only 30 per cent of ATG alarms actually require action at site. The other 70 per cent can be resolved remotely – for example, monitoring a false alarm until it stops, or closing a low-level alarm with an email to instruct staff at a store to replace the ATG paper roll.

Recently, working with one of our customers – a C-store with +300 sites – we were able to identify that out of 3,147 Priority 1 alarms, 1,904 (60 per cent) were repeat or false alarms which required no action. As for the rest, while 1,243 alarms were investigated, less than half (546) had to be resolved by a service contractor.

As the example illustrates, one of the biggest challenges for fuel retail managers is filtering out false alarms while escalating critical alarms for action and resolution.

Intelligent alarm management

Smart alarm management software connected to ATGs use workflows to receive, verify, prioritise and remotely manage up to 80 per cent of alarms to closure.

Our research suggests that remote alarm management can reduce alarm-related maintenance costs by up to 50 per cent.

Here are examples of the top smart alarms that can minimize ATG-related maintenance costs while maintaining compliance and fuel quality:

  • Tank water alarms: 80 per cent of water alerts and alarms are triggered by a non-water-related event. By using algorithms to detect real water patterns, it’s possible to isolate real water alarm events and obtain valuable information on potential water sources (e.g. ingress, from a delivery or from some other event). Water alerts unrelated to water alarms can be flagged separately as lower priority, such as a faulty water float requiring maintenance.

  • PLLD/WPLLD: 40–60 per cent of PLLD/WPLLD-related alarms are triggered by onsite events unrelated to a leak or fuel loss. Prioritizing compliance-related events or line shutdowns over temporary events requiring a less urgent response (e.g. Gross test alarm triggered by an empty tank, power to STP switched off, air in the line and other non-leak events) ensures the site remains compliant while avoiding unnecessary ATG maintenance.

  • Repeat alarms: the danger of repeat alarms is that they can inundate response teams with email notifications that detract from other alarms that require more urgent attention. By using alarm management software to group repeat alarms, response teams can easily diagnose and resolve equipment errors generating repeat notifications while maintaining visibility of more critical, one-off alarms

  • Probe and sensor alarms: unfortunately,  probes tend to fail in a similar fashion to old incandescent light bulbs – flickering faulty information and creating numerous false alarms. Smart alarming allows for the prioritization, routing and separate grouping of sensor alarms for tracking and resolution onsite, while ensuring that genuine high-priority alarms are given appropriate focus.

Maximising your ATG investment

ATGs are a valuable investment for any retail network. But without an intelligent logic overlay to filter, categorize and prioritize the information they provide, critical alarms can be lost in the noise.

Leveraging this investment requires integrating the ATGs with smart alarm software, enabling fuel networks to save millions of dollars annually and move further into forecourt automation.

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