Remote monitoring of tank filling levels

Paul Boughton

Marcel Gautschi reports on a tank measurement system that can transmit the filling levels via the mobile telephone network.

AVIA Osterwalder St Gallen AG operates more than 120 filling stations in eastern Switzerland. The company also sells and distributes motor vehicle and other fuels to corporate and private customers.

For many years now, AVIA Osterwalder St Gallen AG has deployed the EasyOil system to offer its customers a method for remote monitoring of filling levels in oil and gasoline tanks. To assist with the recent relaunch of the EasyOil system, AVIA Osterwalder St. Gallen AG called on the measurement technology expertise offered by KELLER AG für Druckmesstechnik.

In essence, EasyOil comprises a measurement system that determines the filling level in the oil tank, together with a GSM modem to transmit the filling levels via the mobile telephone network once they have been ascertained.

In collaboration with Fredell GmbH Informatiklösungen, an IT solutions provider based in Widnau, AVIA Osterwalder St Gallen AG has developed software that enables contracting customers to call up current filling levels and previous purchase orders for their tank installations.

Customers are also alerted via SMS or email if the filling level falls below a certain limit (which can be freely defined). By replying to these messages, customers can immediately trigger purchase orders to AVIA

Another benefit: because they can call up data anywhere and at any time, customers are able to plan their purchasing efficiently. For example, stocks of fuel can be bought in when the price of oil is low, or when a tank truck is nearby.

The technology behind the EasyOil system had already been relaunched prior to this redesign. As AVIA Osterwalder St Gallen AG searched for a suitable supplier who could deliver the measuring probes as well as the GSM transmission module, their attention was drawn to KELLER AG für Druckmesstechnik, based in Winterthur.

The benefits of using EasyOil are derived from the combination of measurement and remote transmission. While developing the proposed solution for AVIA Osterwalder St Gallen AG, KELLER's pressure measurement experts were able to draw on experience garnered from customers in the water management sector, where similar concepts are used to monitor groundwater and river water levels.

The underlying technology is developed by KELLER in-house, so special solutions of this sort can be developed for customers with great flexibility and speed.

For customers in the water management sector - to take one example - KELLER has developed a GSM modem that supports data exchange via email, SMS and FTP. Now, for AVIA Osterwalder St Gallen AG, KELLER is producing the GSM-3 variant (modified at the customer's request) which also offers the option of SMS communication with consumers.

More so than email, SMS messages guarantee that customers are informed promptly. They are spam-proof and can be clearly personalised.

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Marcel Gautschi is with KELLER AG für Druckmesstechnik, Winterthur, Switzerland.