Telecommunication towers and wireless communications infrastructure sites are located in remote areas. Many of these are without grid power and rely on backup power from diesel generators. Others have unreliable grid power and need diesel generators during power outages. Monitoring generator fuel tanks ensure tower systems are available during off-grid periods.
Many telecom tower sites are leased to cellular network providers on a service level agreement (SLA). These agreements contain strict usage and uptime details. The penalties for downtime are high. This makes it vital for tower operators to maintain backup power systems.
Fuel Theft and Loss
Fuel theft is a major issue at many remote sites. The isolated nature of the towers makes them difficult to secure and an easy target for thieves. AT&T and Verizon towers in the US state of Maryland were subject to such thefts. Another case in Jamaica saw the company Digicel lose over 9,000 gallons of fuel per month. This was to a cost to the company of $3 million USD per month. Much of the theft at sites was internal and small quantities, enough for several vehicles. This can add up over the course of the year, and over hundreds of sites.
Sometimes a gap in fuel delivery bills and the actual quantity of fuel delivered occurs. An operator in Africa stated they were routinely billed 10% over actual deliveries. On a site in
Tanzania, a diesel tank with a capacity of 430 litres was billed for 1,000 litres a month in two deliveries. A remote fuel monitoring system installed on the site showed it could operate a whole year on 1,000 litres. This means on a single site they saved 12,000 litres of fuel per year. This more than pays back the cost of the system installation.
Fuel Monitoring Sensors
There are several technologies that have been developed for monitoring fuel tanks. Float type, ultrasonic, non-invasive ultrasonic and depth pressure sensors. Each has its particular benefits. We have experience selling and installing each of these monitoring solutions. The depth pressure system has proven the most effective. Based on the physical property known as the specific gravity. As you go deeper under the surface of the liquid, the pressure increases. This physical property is a constant based on the liquids specific gravity. The sensor measures the pressure applied by the column of liquid above. This pressure reading is used to calculate the height of the liquid. This sensor technology is safe for flammable liquids and easy to install. Compared to ultrasonic type sensors, which can be difficult to mount correctly. If an ultrasonic sensor mounting bolts are not aligned then vibrations in the tank can affect the readings.
AKCP Remote Fuel Monitoring Solution
AKCP provides a solution for remote fuel monitoring. With over 30 years of experience in professional remote monitoring solutions. Our integrated solution has the capacity for fuel and generator monitoring. The tank depth pressure sensor (TDPS) can monitor tanks up to 20 meters in height. Wired and LoRa based Wireless Tunnel versions make for easy installation. Communications via Ethernet or cellular data connection for remote monitoring. Alerts, notifications and site mapping is provided by AKCPro Server.
As part of a project to monitor remote sites run by a hybrid generator and solar panel system, AKCP has provided Powercity Generators with an intelligent monitoring solution. The SP2+E interfaced via Modbus to the control panel of the generator. The SP2+E polls data on generator runtime, engine speed, oil pressures and fuel levels. The data was transmitted at some sites via Ethernet, and others over a longer distance via LoRa wireless communications