An automatic tank gauge (ATG) is a device that detects, monitors and stores information about fluid levels in above-ground storage tanks. These devices can be manual where there is a single-pole switch with an integral float inside the tank to detect level changes or fully automatic, employing one or more ultrasonic probes strategically placed within the tank to monitor its liquid contents. In each case, this information is sent by an electric circuit to a remote display which shows what percentage of the tank capacity remains available.
Having accurate data on inventory quantities is important in both the short term long term for fleet managers. It will also cover the benefits of automated tank gauging systems and how they vastly improve any fleet.
Automatic Tank Gauges – How Do They Work?
The most common way of measuring the level of fluid in a tank is through a simple float switch which, as the name suggests, uses a small ball (or floats) attached to a thin wire. When the tank is mostly full, the weight of this float means it will rest at the bottom of the tank wall and allow the electric current to pass it along into a sensor on either side. However, the higher the water level rises, the more likely part of the float will become submerged, preventing electrical flow that is an action that an electronic control panel can detect on/in the tank.
A string-type device works in much the same fashion but instead uses two balls connected with a length of fine string for transmitting signals. As the tank fills, the balls float apart, eventually becoming so far apart that the string becomes slack and interrupts the flow of electricity.
Periodic Testing Ensures Customer Satisfaction
Some owners prefer more accurate fluid levels in their tanks, which can be achieved by installing an automatic gauge system instead. These types of ATG are just as they sound – a probe that will regularly test the level and send this information to a control panel for evaluation. Gauges can be simple or complex, with some sensors requiring careful alignment before use and others simply snapping into place on the outside of the tank.
Automatic Tank Gauge Systems Testing Issues
Before looking at why fleet managers should consider using these systems, it is important to understand how they work. The most common automatic tank gauge system for large volume tanks takes two probes – one on the top and one near the bottom of the tank. These are simply pushed into position through pre-drilled holes on either side of the tank wall (red arrows), and their position can be fine-tuned by rotating them once in place with a slight degree of pressure applied.
Testing works by having an electric current pass from one probe to another, transmitting this data back to the control panel after being recorded. For example, a simple power indicator will show whether or not there is enough voltage to record continuously when used. At the same time, all other aspects of the tank (such as temperature and liquid levels) can be monitored at any one time.
Top Reasons to Install an ATG for Your Fleet
To Ensure Safe Operations for Drivers
One of the main reasons for using an automated tank gauge is the improved safety it offers drivers and personnel working on-site. By having access to accurate levels of fluid in their tanks, they can become better informed about how much product remains and be aware if there is anything wrong with the storage vessel itself.
To Reduce Accidents and Environmental Damage
By running a fleet of vehicles, you will already know that accidents can happen – be it from collisions or misjudgments made by others on-road or in a warehouse environment. When installing ATGs, you also prevent any occurrences where an employee might have been injured due to overfilling a tank or where fuel has caused any kind of environmental damage.
To Ensure Compliance with Industry Regulations
The vast majority of industries are governed by strict guidelines and regulations, with some even having a duty to ensure that their practices remain as eco-friendly as possible. However, one thing that can be difficult to monitor is the level of fluid in your fleet’s storage vessels, which is another reason for considering installing an ATG before making other changes to your business.
Other Benefits of Implementing Automatic Tank Gauging Systems
Some companies choose not to sell tanks with built-in ATGs because it adds time and money to the total cost if you are looking at replacing your existing storage units right away. Instead, there are plenty of benefits offered through using these systems to monitor your tanks periodically, such as:
Helping to Prevent Emissions Issues
By operating a fleet of vehicles, you are already aware that they can cause problems in terms of emissions – be it from fumes coming into contact with other materials or by just affecting the air around them. With ATG, you are also monitoring any changes inside the tank itself and can take action before this becomes an issue for your surrounding area.
The most important benefit of using an automatic tank gauge for your fleet is the improved safety offered by having accurate information about how much product remains inside a storage vessel. Whether or not you choose to install them when replacing current tanks or use them as part of a long-term maintenance schedule is entirely up to yourself and the needs of your company.