This article has been reproduced from Tank Storage Magazine (www.tankstoragemag.com) September/October 2015 issue.
Access and loading technology is evolving in the industry
The use of antiquated safety systems in the tank terminal industry is still prevalent despite the introduction of stricter and tighter legislative frameworks.
Safety systems that were developed and installed in the 1960s are still being applied in the current day despite the technical evolution the tank storage industry has undergone.
Alec Keeler, director of Loadtec Engineered Systems explains that during the 1960s and 70s the design of tanks was markedly different and that such systems were lacking.
‘Tankers were lower to the ground, quite small and safety systems were not prevalent – especially in downstream fuels market,' he says.
‘Quite a few companies have introduced harnesses to protect their workers while they are on the tank top, which technically ticks a safety box.
‘But in many cases it is clear that in the case of an accident the worker is not protected because they have incorrectly fitted equipment and it could result in an injury.’
Loadtec Engineered Systems provides a range of safety systems dependent on a variety of factors assuming that tank storage facilities have loading facilities for import and export.
But despite a range of such systems being available on the market, the decision to invest in such systems is balanced against the fluid nature of the business.
‘The nature of the business is that the tanks are only rented for a fixed amount of time,’ says Keeler.
‘They have to compete in a very tight market to win the contract and so their costs have to be low and the consequent level of investment is constrained.'
There is a noticeable emergence of total solutions, where various projects within a tank terminal are delivered in one contract or system solution by a single company, rather than involving several different companies. This is a concept that the market is embracing.
However this consolidated approach is still not the answer to further improving safety at terminals, and Keeler admits that in this regard, there will always be some way to go.
‘It is a constant education process. What have done in a number of cases is to consolidate the tank loading facility, so instead of having bays scattered around the site there are a small number of high intensity loading bays with state-of-the-art, modern equipment and ultimate safety.
‘The market is vast and highly specialised. It is expanding at the moment and in some cases, in places that you would not expect.’