Transforming asset management across a gas station network with IoT.
Most gas stations combine fuels storage and pumping, a retail store and self-service areas, too. That means managing the use of tanks, pumps, air compressors, refrigeration, HVAC and lighting – all of which are consuming energy and adding to a sizeable electricity bill.
Not only that, all of these assets need maintaining; leaking air hoses can lead to high compressor duty cycles plus early failures, gasoline tanks can leak and theft can occur, and HVAC leaks can lead to a significant decline in performance and efficiency.
Remotely managing a chain of gas stations efficiently can be difficult, so how do you effectively minimize product loss, energy consumption and maintenance?
Measuring everything with IoT technology leads to big benefits
The answer to these problems and to improve efficiency and asset performance, as well as maintenance, was a tailored IoT solution. We designed a solution to help our client collect data from on-site PLCs, existing SCADA systems, as well as new meters and sensors that would give them a complete view of the pumps, gas storage, refrigeration, lighting, HVAC, compressors and gasoline tanks from every site in their chain.
Defining what data to collect is critical
In order to create a solution, we started by identifying the key data required to deliver these metrics. For our Gas Station Asset Management IoT solution, this included:
- Fuel tank levels
- Fuel pump status and TC density
- Water volumes
- Fuel type and consumption
- Lighting status and energy consumption
- HVAC status and energy consumption
- Compressor status and pressure
- Outdoor temperature
Initial goals of the solution
The initial goals of the solution was to connect PLCs, SCADA and the new meters and sensors so that we could collect all the relevant data in a consistent and reliable manner in a single platform, as well as ensuring its quality and integrity. This would allow the Gas Station Asset Management IoT solution to have the following features:
- Ability to monitor the critical operational data from the equipment via a web-based system
- Device management monitoring for all devices and sensors in place
- The ability to define business logic for the application in-order to meet the business objectives
- Provide alarm and alert notifications via email or SMS messages
- Collect enough historical data to enable the ability to test different logic to diagnose faults
- Provide the right dashboard to the right user with the right insights
- Connect with the fuel station control system
- Control the status of the pumps remotely
- Test the application, making sure all of the above goals are met, based on the below solution architecture
Before go-live, we tested four critical aspects of the solution:
The Rayven IoT platform is built with security as a top priority and our proprietary security architecture ensures that data is secure at all points of the IoT environment.
The solution includes data encryption in transit from device-to-cloud, as well as device authentication; security (Bearer) tokens; SSL, AES and RSA encryption; as well as additional device security checks done via automated polling.
Once securely connected via VPN to the on-site PLCs and SCADA, we connected the other sensors in the station through 4G. The combination of a secure and encrypted transmission path together with a dedicated, direct VPN connection means that there’s a fast and secure connection with an extra layer of security.
The key to ensuring data integrity is to establish a continuous and reliable connection. Through doing this, your can ensure that the data is always up-to-date and accurate, meaning that it can be relied upon to make business-critical decisions in real-time.
Once connections were in place, it was then critical for us to test that the data we were seeing on the fuel station and retail outlet completely matched what was being seen in the dashboards and then build a fail safe in the form of a sequenced data back-fill capability that would be triggered in the event that connectivity was ever lost.
Industrial data science
The objective of exploratory data analysis was to observe trends in the data, which included:
- Calculating fuel consumption per minute, hour, day, and week
- Real-time forecasting of daily fuel consumption vs. fuel in tank
- TC density monitoring by hour, day, and week
- Tank fuel depth and forecast fuel consumption
- Dispenser filling activity
- Hourly and daily energy consumption based on asset (e.g. HVAC, compressor, etc.)
- Pump predictive maintenance
- Pump fault detection
We are continuing to collect data to improve our forecasting capability through machine learning, as well as rolling out the Gas Station Asset Management IoT solution to new sites. The expansion will grow the data sets and enable us to compare performance between them, further improving efficiency, responsiveness, maintenance and profitability.
Data sources used to deliver the Gas Station Asset Management IoT solution
New and existing data was used to create the custom applications and business insights that come from our Gas Station Asset Management IoT solution.
Key features of our Gas Station Asset Management IoT solution
All of these features were customized to fit the customers specific business objectives, but can be modified and expanded to meet any number of retail store or commercial site's goals.
Real-time asset performance
Monitor all of your assets, irrespective of controller type or location, continuously, in real-time, and in one browser window.
Managing inventory manually and monitoring current tank status, sales, leakages, theft, overfills, and deliveries is a tremendous challenge. Now you can monitor all of this continuously, remotely, and in real-time.
Modern gas stations consume a great deal of energy in their retail store – lighting, HVAC and refrigeration all run continuously. Understanding how and where energy is consumed can help you lower your energy costs.
Alerts and notifications
How your assets perform will have a direct effect on your bottom line. Be notified of any deviations or excursions by email or SMS as soon as an event happens.
Managing asset maintenance tasks manually and knowing the current status of each issue is a massive challenge. Doing this in an a real-time allows for faster responses, reduced downtime and a great customer experience.
A leaking air hose might seem like a small nuisance, but that leak will cause your compressor to run more frequently than it needs to, shortening the compressor’s life. Insights like this can help you to proactively maintain equipment.
The business outcomes from our Gas Station Asset Management IoT solution
Lower cost of maintenance
For example, leaking air hoses can lead to compressors running continuously, greatly reducing their life. Continuous monitoring can highlight those hoses and remote management allows you to switch them off.
Reduced energy consumption
Retail lighting, HVAC and compressors consume more energy than running the gas station itself. Gain insights into how that energy is consumed that will help you to manage those assets more efficiently
Understand when customers use your services – fuel pumping, air, retail, etc. – will allow you to more efficiently manage staffing, waste and theft.
Real-time performance view
View all of the salient data from across your chain continuously and in real-time. Compare sites’ performance, examine performance by hour or day of week and use data to drive management decision-making.
Better asset management, more efficient maintenance and staffing, greater energy efficiency and reduction in waste and theft all lead to higher profit margins.
Improved customer experience
By better understanding assets, their usage, and comparing it with staffing and maintenance schedules, they were able to provide an improved customer experience.
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