Effective storage tank management programme

Introduction

Companies that store bulk liquids in aboveground storage tanks face the challenge of developing and maintaining a tank management programme. An effective tank management programme is necessary to ensure that tanks operate safely and are inspected and maintained on a regular basis in a cost-effective manner.

An effective tank management programme is also necessary to enable AST owners to demonstrate to regulatory agencies that the requirements of industry standards with regard to inspection intervals, fitness-for-service assessments and other tank issues are satisfied.

Some companies have met the challenge of implementing an effective tank management programme. But for many others the challenge of maintaining a tank management programme can be formidable. This paper discusses the basic elements of an effective AST management programme.

Purpose of a management programme

The primary purpose of a tank management programme is to maximise the return on investment and the benefit/cost ratio involved in owning a number of assets. In the case of storage tanks, the individual assets normally vary widely in age, condition, value and other factors that can complicate effective management of the assets. Nevertheless, the basic principles of asset management can be applied to storage tanks.

Features of a management programme

An effective tank management programme incorporates the
following basic features:
• Ease of use
• Reliable and maintainable• Include all tanks in owner’s inventory
• Include service, maintenance and inspection histories
• Notification when and what type of inspection is due
• Include cost information

Ease of use

Experience suggests that no matter how comprehensive and detailed a tank management programme is, it will not be used if it is too difficult to use by the personnel responsible for its operation and maintenance. In fact, the more “bells and whistles” the programme has, the more intimidating it can be. There are at least three conditions that can cause a tank management programme to fall into disuse:

1) If operation of the computer software is too difficult for the
operator responsible for the programme.
2) Lack of data caused by inadequate reporting instructions and/
or miscommunication.
3) Lack of support or commitment to the programme by
corporate management.

Often the responsibilities for tank maintenance and reliability are delegated to personnel who do not have previous experience with or knowledge of the tanks they are expected to manage. If the necessary information to manage the tanks cannot be intuitively extracted from the programme, it is likely that it will be misused or not used at all.

John M. Lieb, P.E., Chief Engineer, Tank Industry Consultants
Edition: Edition 43

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