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How To Wirelessly Monitor Your Propane Tanks With Custom SCADA

By Ziad Alezabi

March 5, 2024


Using SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) for wireless propane monitoring is crucial in industrial applications. It ensures the following:

  1. Safely storing propane gas
  2. Efficient and effective distribution
  3. Continuous maintenance of operations

If you're part of an industrial facility, you're most likely looking for propane monitoring because you heavily rely on things such as:

  • Heating
  • Drying
  • Power generation

You are also probably responsible for monitoring multiple complexes. Therefore, you need centralized monitoring and relay capabilities to save windshield time.

With the proper SCADA manufacturer, you can properly gain real-time insights into things such as:

  1. Propane levels
  2. Temperature
  3. Pressure

Let's take a look at how you can use sensors, data acquisition devices, and master stations to seamlessly automate your propane monitoring.

How SCADA Protects and Enhances Your Propane Monitoring

SCADA automates industrial applications through centralized monitoring and control. The different components of SCADA that help centralize your monitoring are:

  1. Sensors
  2. Communication Protocols
  3. RTUs (Remote Telemetry Unit)
  4. Master Stations

All of these components come together to form a network that allows your staff to oversee multiple facility operations in one central location.

This is crucial in propane monitoring because:

  1. Reduces or eliminates downtime (with the right maintenance protocols).
  2. Enhances your efficiency by preventing leaks and other factors that are detrimental to your production.
  3. Enables you to prevent operation malfunctions that could cause loss of assets.

Typical System Configuration Example of Propane SCADA Monitoring

Before being concerned about your wireless capabilities, first, you need to handle the data acquisition.

These are the 6 specific things that need to be established for a wireless propane monitoring system to be useful:

  1. Remote-controlled shut-off valves: When a tank runs low, you have to schedule a delivery or switch between tanks.
    1. With devices such as an LPG Controller you can avoid downtime by linking it to your sensors and signaling for valve shutoff and valve opening when one tank is too empty or too full.
    2. You also get notifications at your NOC or alarms sent directly to your staff's phone/email.
  2. Pressure sensors: Monitoring the pressure inside propane tanks and pipelines helps ensure that your operations are within a safe limit.
  3. Temperature Sensors: Propane temperature is a safety and efficiency concern. You can anticipate changes that might affect your propane tank's state and safety hazards by monitoring the temperature.
  4. Level sensors: Knowing the current level of propane is crucial in scheduling refills.

After incorporating all of these components, you now need to think about HMI (Human-Machine Interface).

This is what your operators use to read, understand, and interact with real-time data. This can be especially useful for control capabilities.

Your operators can monitor and control things such as:

  1. Industrial Processes
  2. Machinery
  3. Equipment

They would be provided with:

  1. Control Interface: HMIs have control buttons, switches, and other means of enabling your operators to control system parameters and take actions from remote locations to reduce windshield time.
  2. Visual Displays: Visual displays on HMIs show your staff numbers and charts that allow them to monitor equipment and status in real-time, while also acting on any emergency in real-time.
  3. Trend Analysis: Good SCADA system manufacturers will already be thinking about using AI integration to assist the trend analysis tools that should be incorporated within your HMI.

For the sake of drawing an example, please refer to the diagram below ↓

NetGuardian LPG Controller
In this diagram, the LPG Controller is wired to the generator. The Generator is in turn connected to the 5 valves (one for each propane tank). Through the web interface, you can control the valves on the generator. Also, you can get up-to-date status reports and have them sent to your SNMP Master.

How To Go Wireless With Your Propane Tank Monitoring

Too long of a downtime causes angry supervisors and angry customers. This can cause a preventable loss of revenue.

You may even damage your equipment if your propane tank runs on empty, such as if the motor burns up.

This damage is often irreversible and may cause you to spend money replacing damaged equipment. Sometimes this might mean a new motor, but often it means a whole new generator altogether.

Once you have decided that you want a fuel sensor to monitor your tanks, you now need to think about how you will monitor it.

Here are the most common roadblocks that make many people not want propane monitoring:

  1. Running cables outdoors to an outside tank isn't practical or feasible
  2. Paying over $800 for conduit and way more for trenching doesn't make sense for installing a $250 sensor.
  3. The ROI (Return on Investment) is not practical.

At DPS Telecom, we constantly have clients that need a reporting method that is easy to integrate and justify.

This caused us to develop wireless monitoring capabilities for installations that require it.

The NetGuardian LPG controller is a prime example of wireless propane monitoring. The LPG controller allows you to easily remote manage 4 liquid wireless propane gauges.

That wireless propane gauge would then relay whether a tank is close to empty or too full, and the LPG controller would close the empty tank valve and open the next one.

DPS Telecom Can Configure Wireless Monitoring & Control For Your Unique Infrastructure Limits

DPS Telecom developed the method mentioned above while tending to a client's specific need, and that solution was then repeated across similar applications.

We ask our clients to treat us like their own personal engineers. This allows us to continuously develop and improve our SCADA system capabilities.

Therefore, if you have any application that you haven't found a one-stop solution to, we can help you achieve just that.

If you think you have an application that we might be able to partner up on, or if you have any unanswered questions, please feel free to reach out.

Even if we can't find a solution together, I will be more than happy to try my best and send you in the right direction.

Call 1-800-693-0351 or Email sales@dpstele.com

Ziad Alezabi

Ziad Alezabi

Ziad Alezabi is a Application Documentarian at DPS Telecom. He reviews successful DPS client projects and reports on the best practices that you can use to successfully reach your own project goals.