With each new piece of IoT technology, businesses become smarter and more efficient, and the positive outcomes often extend well beyond the obvious. So, it should not be surprising that new IoT level monitoring systems for remote measurements of volume and capacity, in all kinds of tanks and storage vessels, is poised to have a profound effect on a wide range of industries.

Using sensors to measure the fullness of a tank is nothing new. Every car on the road has an array of such sensors for everything from gasoline to oil to windshield wiper fluid. But, for businesses managing a wide range of remote sites and mobile fleets, there is a huge difference between having a local readout and having real-time access to information from anywhere. “People want to know when things are full or empty,” says Loreto Saccucci, CEO of blueRover. “In the case of fluids like oils, there are a lot of companies out there that don't have a real-time monitoring system to tell them when, say, a barrel is in progress towards being empty so that they can take pre-emptive management steps.”

The new level monitoring technology, a joint project between Rogers and blueRover, can measure a wide variety of different products including combustible liquids, non-combustible liquids, and pelletized material. The potential applications extend across many sectors. “From an economic point of view, there's benefits to all kinds of industries, from agriculture to oil and gas to recycling and waste management,” says Saccucci.

Old problems, new solutions

One obvious application is in optimizing resupply visits to remote sites. “When a company sends out a truck to refill tanks, they can avoid the scenario where they are bringing back inventory. It's much more efficient,” explains Saccucci. “If they send a resupply to a site too late or too early it can be fairly expensive. But, once they have good analytics, they can start changing their businesses with things like route optimization and better purchasing processes.”

Right now, it seems blueRover and Rogers are at the top of the game in Canada when it comes to turning information from unobtrusive IoT technology, like level monitoring, into measurable positive outcomes for their clients.

This type of optimization has been around a long time but it had been a complex and expensive proposition — requiring either extensive manual monitoring, data inputting, or costly technology. As with many IoT applications, the turning point for level monitoring has been one of incremental increases in technology capability and dramatic reductions in technology cost. “The need to maximize efficiency and increase productivity has been with us forever. IoT is just a new way to realize those business outcomes,” says Ignacio Paz, GM, IoT at Rogers Communications. “The total cost of ownership of IoT technologies has dramatically decreased, allowing companies of all sizes to implement them.”

The larger picture

And, while the addition of networked sensors to storage tanks may sound like an innovation with a very focused outcome, every new IoT sensor provides another perspective on the way a business is operating. They not only provide direct information about the specific metric they are measuring, they also collectively paint a picture that can provide surprising operational insights. “You can tell a lot about a company by their sensor data,” says Paz. “Just like you can tell a lot about a person from a blood sample. There's so much information out there, it's just a matter of making the best use of it.”

Right now, it seems blueRover and Rogers are at the top of the game in Canada when it comes to turning information from unobtrusive IoT technology, like level monitoring, into measurable positive outcomes for their clients.