Refinery Boxes and Tanks Should be Tracked for Efficiency and Safety

Typically, when Geoforce talks to customers about our services, our emphasis is on field operations. In fact our tag line is: “Field operations don’t have to be chaotic.” So, routinely our solutions focus on tracking equipment in remote locations, such as oil and gas exploration & production sites.

However, Geoforce’s solutions also provide a great deal of benefit when utilized on boxes and tanks that are part of refinery turnarounds and similar operations. There are a host of business reasons why refineries undergoing turnarounds – and the companies who provide turnaround rental boxes and containers – should use GPS tracking on these boxes:

Efficient Location & Retrieval – With so many boxes on site at any given time during a refinery shutdown, it can be hard to simply find specific units in a vast lay down yard. GPS tracking saves precious hours by pointing workers to the right spot, helping keep projects on schedule.

Rental Invoice Discrepancies – Rental equipment can be the source of frequent, non-productive “he said/she said” invoice disputes, usually centered on how many days on a site were actually incurred. This is particularly true for equipment that is on consignment or billed based on usage. GPS tracking – when integrated with rental ticket systems – helps eliminate this hassle.

Increased Utilization – Many tanks and boxes which are used to dispose of waste materials make multiple “cycles” during turnarounds; moving to/from cleaning facilities, for example. Sometimes boxes are temporarily waylaid off site, when they should be returned to the refinery site for the next load. GPS tracking enables more efficient use of boxes, which can cut down the need to rent extra, un-needed boxes.

Safety and Environmental Compliance – Tanks and boxes often hold hazardous and toxic materials which must have a strict, documented chain of control. GPS tracking provides a clear audit trail of movement which can protect all sides in case of an incident.

Permitting / Storage Compliance – No one wants an inspection visit to result in citations and/or fines due to lack of compliant paperwork. GPS tracking – tied to compliance software – makes it easy to ensure proper paperwork is always just a keystroke away.

Value Added and Managed Services – Box rentals should not be viewed as a simple commodity, to be procured from the lowest bidder. GPS tracking enables providers to deliver a full life cycle of services for boxes at turnarounds.

It’s clear from these examples that box rental companies, and other service providers, should think about using GPS tracking during turnarounds. Safety and efficiency both are enhanced with a GPS program, and often the benefit can’t simply be measured by looking at return on investment, since the impact is spread across a number of factors – some measureable, and some not.

Refineries see this value, too, on behalf of their suppliers. That’s why we are now seeing some refineries actually mandate – in their tenders – that GPS tracking be used. It’s another way of enhancing safety, and by driving suppliers to become more efficient, it also makes good business sense.

Why Geoforce?
Once the decision is made to use GPS during turnarounds, the next question is which company is best suited to provide the solution. At Geoforce, we think we have several distinct advantages, including:

The world’s safest (and most rugged) GPS tracking device:

No one needs to be reminded that during turnarounds every safety and risk management detail can be magnified. Geoforce’s GT1 satellite tracking device is the only one in the world which carries an IECEx/ATEX Zone 0 rating – the world’s most stringent standard for intrinsic safety. Only with a Zone 0 rating can a GPS tracking device be used for unlimited durations during a refinery turnaround, even in the presence of explosive gasses. The GT1 is also extremely rugged, able to take the pounding that rental boxes typically experience.

Software that provides more than just dots on a map:

Geoforce’s Track and Trace software is just the beginning of what we offer. Our specialized applications are ideal for helping keep turnarounds safe and efficient.

There are two types of situations related to rental boxes, which refineries need to absolutely avoid in terms of managing risk during turnarounds:

  •  Having boxes and tanks at a refinery site which CANNOT be used legally because they are out of regulatory certification; and
  •  Having boxes and tank at a refinery site which SHOULD NOT be used, because they have not been maintained according to schedule.

Both scenarios pose great risk to refineries if there is ever an incident. Geoforce’s Compliance Manager product addresses both concerns, by giving customers certification and maintenance data – along with the context of time and place – on a convenient dashboard (many other applications just provide certification status, but don’t tell you where equipment is physically located)

The time consuming problem of billing disputes is both distracting and wasteful. The issue is measured in the millions of dollars annually at some tank rental companies, and refineries – who ultimately pay the bill – are often caught up in the disputes.

Rental billing accuracy is addressed by Geoforce with a unique software module: our Rental Manager solution. The goal is simple: eliminate the distracting disputes between supplier and customer about how many days should be billed for a box or tank.

All told, all of those who are involved in planning, managing and supporting refinery turnarounds should look hard at GPS as a routine course of business for rental boxes and tanks.