When it comes to purchasing the equipment needed to upgrade an existing fueling facility or construct a new one, site operators need to identify quality systems that achieve the safest fueling for the consumer and the environment. Fortunately, advanced underground piping, containment and monitoring solutions are now available to the retail-fueling industry.
Whether dealing with a new site, new regulation or an upgrade, it is important to determine how much downtime the project will create; excessive downtime can affect profits, site availability and overall standing with customers. Site operators must also determine the potential challenges and issues that arise when working underground, and review all possible system solutions and upgrades thoroughly.
Site operators need to find ways to install or maintain underground equipment with the lowest total cost in mind, while also realizing that the equipment must operate in the safest manner possible. Modern piping, containment and monitoring systems have been designed to meet the needs and expectations of fuel-site operators today and into the future.
Thankfully, advancements in the design and operation of underground fueling-site equipment over the past decade help to meet all of these objectives. There have been at least three areas in which operators can most readily benefit from recent advances.
Looping Piping Systems
The new-age underground piping systems have been designed for “plug-and-play” installation as an integrated, environmentally secure underground fuel-delivery system. These systems feature high-quality, prefabricated, factory-assembled components that dramatically reduce labor costs and the risk of installation errors.
More important, the looping piping system allows easy access to all piping connections, piping runs and containment sumps for inspection, maintenance or repair without the need to break concrete or remove a fuel dispenser. The result is a significantly higher degree of environmental protection and drastically reduced costs of fuel-delivery system ownership.
Systems and Equipment
The latest single- and double-wall spill-containment buckets are made of advanced materials to withstand environmental conditions, and if the need ever arises the containment buckets can be replaced without breaking concrete. Easy installation, monitoring, maintenance and repair (if necessary) mean lower installation times and labor costs. The new era of manhole covers featuring composite materials of construction are lightweight, leak-free and extremely durable, making access to the tank sump area safer and easier.
Advanced positive shut-off overfill-prevention valves are now testable from the surface. Operators can verify valve functionality compliance in 60 seconds rather than the 60 minutes it could take with traditional equipment that requires removal and reinstallation for testing. Testable overfill-prevention valves are designed to provide positive shut-off capabilities during product delivery, which helps to prevent the danger of overfilling underground storage.
Advanced tank-monitoring systems now include multi-drop probe and sensor capabilities to help reduce conduit, wiring and installation costs. These new systems are fast and easy to install because all services can now be automatically detected once they connect to the tank-gauge console, and automatically configured using an intuitive touch-screen interface. Functions such as centralized site management, precision inventory reconciliation and loss-prevention analysis provide a higher level of fuel-management capability. Leak-detection features allow in-tank leak testing to be performed continuously, without the need to shut down tanks or the entire site.
These systems can be accessed remotely anywhere in the world via the Internet. Wireless technology (typically offered as an option) gives operators access to fuel-site particulars and data at the touch of a tablet or smartphone.
The critical advancements in underground retail-fueling equipment technology deliver greater value than ever before by helping marketers operate safer, more profitable fueling sites. Fuel-site operators must identify and partner with the right distributor and manufacturer--ones that know the market and the operational requirements, from regulatory, application and economic perspectives.
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