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Satellite M2M for Remote Monitoring: Detecting Leaks, Increasing Efficiency and Improving the Bottom Line

By IoTevolutionworld Special Guest
Anu Sood, Global Channel Marketing Manager, SkyWave Mobile Comunications
May 01, 2014

The financial benefits of monitoring remote equipment and infrastructure are well documented. From tracking vehicles to sending data to/from fixed equipment for mining, utilities and oil & gas, remote monitoring can have a huge impact on a company's bottom line.

Over the past several weeks I have been preparing for SkyWave’s upcoming webinar on Remote Monitoring for Leak & Theft  Detection. Among other things, I was struck by the staggering statistics on losses due to pipeline leaks and illegal taps. According to one source, the global black market for oil theft and smuggling is $37.23 billion annually. In the U.S., the Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration estimates that pipeline incidents have cost the country over $6 billion alone since 1994. 

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More than Just a Pipeline Problem

During my research, I came across a number of stories about fuel leaks from tanks and other infrastructure. Recently, Miami coast guard crews assisted in the cleanup of nearly 2,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled from a tug boat’s ruptured tank, while the city of Santa Fe is still dealing with years of groundwater contamination due to a leaking underground fuel line.

These stories underline the importance of monitoring fuel and the impact it can have on the bottom line and the environment.  For example, in remote mining operations the availability of sufficient amounts of diesel fuel is a must to maintain ongoing operations. At many sites, it is the responsibility of an operations or inventory manager to manually check the quantity of fuel in tanks and to schedule delivery with local fuel providers.  However, as mining sites have streamlined operations, manual tank level checking sometimes becomes sporadic rather than the norm, leading to dangerously low fuel levels on site.

Tank/Fuel-Level Monitoring with Satellite M2M Technologies

At the request of its customers, Bintech, an Australian manufacturer of fuel level sensors, collaborated with U.S.-based M2M solution developer Skymira to develop an Automatic Tank Gauging (ATG) solution for remote areas.  Using M2M satellite communications, the solution automatically tracks fuel levels and sends daily reports to local operation managers.

Aside from the operational benefit of allowing managers to schedule fuel deliveries without “dipping” the tank, the solution can also detect unusual consumption levels that may indicate a leak in the tank. This is particularly useful for underground or remote fuel tanks which may not be subject to frequent visual inspections.      

The solution is simple and inexpensive to operate, especially for tanks that are located in isolated areas with no cellular communication. It reduces the need for employees to drive to out-of-the-way sites to manually dip the tank. The daily reports also mean that a possible leak can be detected more quickly and lead to reduced cleanup costs.

 As in pipeline monitoring, investment in automated tank monitoring solutions using budget-conscious satellite communications can dramatically minimize losses while delivering immediate return on investment.  This, combined with the environmental and safety benefits of monitoring hazardous materials, should see even more site operators outside of cellular coverage adopting satellite M2M monitoring solutions in the future.

Anu Sood is the Global Channel Marketing Manager at SkyWave Mobile Communications, a pioneer in the M2M market. She is responsible for working with partners around the world to develop, promote and market their unique satellite-based M2M solutions and leverages nearly two decades of technology expertise in the telecommunications, software development and satellite industries.

To learn more and to have your questions answered, join Anu Sood and other M2M industry experts on Thurs., May 8 for a live webinar “Remote Monitoring for Leak & Theft Detection”. Register here.




Edited by Rachel Ramsey


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