Improving Terminal Throughput and Efficiency

Yesterday, we highlighted many technologies to improve loading and unloading operations. But what about the commercial and logistical sides to enhance efficiency and throughput? Emerson’s Kevin Niles and Sandy Tiu explore this question in a Tanks & Terminals article, Don’t Just Go With The Flow (pp. 19-22).

They open the article by noting how increases in LNG shipments and crude oil imports and exports have increased demands for terminals. The growth to meet these demands has introduced challenges.

As companies introduce new products into their terminals and acquire new assets – or even attempt to do more with what they already have – they must find ways to optimise those assets to expand operations without needing to grow or overtax their workforce.

Terminal Management and MovementsDigitalization is one way companies are addressing this challenge by:

…using software to increase throughput and efficiency – ultimately increasing standardization, safety, and performance while simultaneously delivering higher profitability.

Offloading efficiency is a vital consideration when selecting a terminal.

If one terminal can turn a vessel around in 12 hours and another takes 18, this time difference will be a significant factor in facility choice, as customers can use the extra time to turn their vessel around, get more product into it, and send it elsewhere.

An essential component in this efficiency increase is order-to-cash software:

…which digitalises operations by collecting the information surrounding a customer’s order for the movement of product into, out of, or within the facility.

Emerson’s Synthesis order-to-cash software is a liquid logistics and commercial management application used by companies that store or transport liquid hydrocarbons to manage their entire order-to-cash cycle. Using standard APIs and SOA, Synthesis allows enterprises to integrate tightly and extensively with any other applications that are touch points between nominations and invoicing.

While order-to-cash applications have existed for a while:

…many organizations are just getting started on their digitalisation journey… Once a team has a vision and an automation software solution in place, the terminal – or even series of terminals – can operate as a cohesive, interconnected ecosystem for increased efficiency.

Kevin and Sandy share some advantages:

  • Improved visibility and efficiency
  • Efficiently navigate external hurdles
  • Improved safety

One example of improved visibility and efficiency is in planning movements.

Built-in algorithms track the products, bringing in a batch, splitting it into different pieces, and moving those pieces through different tanks – avoiding mixing where necessary, and automatically mixing where desirable.

External hurdles can include situations like customs delays.

As a batch is processed through a terminal, order-to-cash software automatically updates status and documentation, allowing the vessel to depart whether clearance was granted in the middle of the afternoon or in the dead of night.

Safety can be improved by eliminating paper-based safety checklists by automating these safety procedures and performing the checks in real-time, electronically documenting the checks and results.

Read the article for more on how automation combined with highly advanced order-to-cash software, such as Synthesis, to improve operational efficiency and terminal profitability. Visit the Software for Energy Transportation and Storage on for more ways to establish a more efficient supply chain.

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