Ultrasonic volumetric fuel measurement for railway depots

| Transport

Non contact bulk fuel tank monitoring
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Three Northern Rail depots have gained closer control over fuel levels with the use of ultrasonic measurement of fuel tank levels to accurately determine fuel volume.

Pulsar Process Measurement has supplied non-contacting ultrasonic volume measurement equipment with associated remote plant mimic software to help solve an issue for Northern Rail at three sites; their Newton Heath LMD (Light Maintenance Depot) near Manchester, Blackpool LMD and Barrow LMD, allowing them to control the ordering, delivery and usage of fuel more efficiently.

Northern Rail’s contractor Austin-Lenika, who was engaged in a wider project on site, had identified that the existing level indicators were not suitable for the application and were therefore not reading the level correctly. Austin-Lenika approached Pulsar and specified that the new equipment should provide a measurement of the volume of fuel in the bulk tanks with a target of ±1% accuracy, allowing staff on site to monitor fuel usage and transfer and pinpoint the optimum time to re-order fuel. They also wanted to have both local display of level on the storage tanks and to be able to remotely monitor levels across the entire tank farm of eight fuel vessels plus three additional bulk tanks.

Pulsar supplied Ultra 3 non-contacting ultrasonic level measurement controllers with associated dB series transducers. The transducers were mounted into flanges at the top of the fuel tanks, and operate on a ‘time of flight’ principle, an ultrasonic signal reflecting back to the transducer from the surface of the fuel. The measurement is reliable and accurate, with sophisticated signal processing by Pulsar’s dedicated DATEM software system. In addition, the Pulsar Ultra Controller can calculate volume based on almost any standard tank shape, taking the tank dimensions and making the calculations necessary to convert them into the volume of fuel in the tank.

Pulsar also supplied UltraScan software, which uses the RS485 Modbus output of the Ultra to provide a screen display of both levels and alarms. UltraScan can operate either on a site basis or can bring together measurements from a variety of sites.

Staff at Northern Rail are using the system very effectively. Austin-Lenika tested the system by comparing delivered fuel from a tanker to measured levels from the Pulsar system, finding a variance from a 6000 litre delivery of ‘within 60 litres’, achieving the ±1% target.

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