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Industry trends in bulk liquid storage
How tank operators, lessees and lenders are transforming operations
Digitalization has permeated virtually every sector of the economy, and changed the way companies understand inventories, manage supply chains and utilize resources. Historically, the bulk liquid storage industry has been a notable laggard in this transformation, with many companies continuing to use outdated approaches in their day-to-day operations. However, that has started to change.
Tank storage operators, lessees and lenders have struggled with stale inventory data for years. Critical information is typically maintained and updated on complex spreadsheets, a manual process that is slow, error-prone, and insufficient for modern management reporting. Recently, the focus of industry leaders has been to develop automated systems that provide tank-level inventory data in as close to real time as possible. For example, a reduction in inventories from inexact estimates to a precise level that satisfies an operator’s needs has a direct and positive impact on working capital requirements, and brings the operator closer to a “just-in-time” model that maximizes their efficiency.
Smart gauges and sensors
This effort has been supported by the increasing sophistication of oil and bulk liquid storage terminals, and specifically the tremendous strides made in streamlining measurement through electronic gauges, advanced metering systems and other third-party systems. The proliferation of smart gauges and sensors has allowed for data to be automatically read and uploaded to a central database in the cloud in real time, supplanting time-consuming data entry and manual record keeping. This cloud-based approach provides operators with a 360-degree view of their operations at any time and from anywhere.
Document processing automation
Another trend is the rise of document processing automation — specifically, the use of intelligent automation solutions. Using these solutions to automate manual, paper-based processes enables terminal operators to optimize efficiency, safety and costs. They allow for better control of process management functions, and enable product movements to be monitored in near real time.
Intelligent automation solutions also help make management reporting more timely, varied and pertinent. For example, they enable bulk liquid storage companies to produce live graphic or map-based displays of storage utilization, and access real-time data on inventory gains and losses — for both the terminal and individual tanks. This creates timelier and more actionable management reporting, and also leads to greater personnel efficiency. Operations staff are freed from mundane, repetitive data entry, enabling them to focus on other areas of the business where they can add greater value. Furthermore, data automation can be used to accurately evaluate how the business is performing and where there are areas for improvement.
The ClearDox platform
ClearDox is a cloud-based intelligent automation solutions platform designed by commodities practitioners that simplifies data management by automatically classifying, extracting and reconciling data from multiple sources. It helps companies including Gulf Oil reduce operational risk, costs and errors by integrating siloed, paper-based data, as well as external data, into operational workflows with little change to established workflows or data infrastructure.
The outdated and analogue nature of the bulk liquid storage industry is slowly changing, and in the past couple of years, the technology has significantly advanced, with more and more data becoming structured. However, there’s still much room for improvement.
Many bulk liquid storage companies still have vast amounts of unstructured data. Using intelligent automation solutions like ClearDox to automatically capture and reconcile this data is critical for gaining efficiency, reducing costs and reducing operational risk.
Contact us to see how you can optimize operations and simplify data management with ClearDox.