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Using storage tanks to measure – more quickly, more cleanly, more efficiently

PTB and partners optimise the measurement of large storage tanks


The enormous tanks stand densely packed in the Port of Hamburg. Be it mineral oil, concentrated fruit juice, palm oil, alcohol, latex or acids – around 15 million tonnes per ship of all types of liquids which are loaded or removed, change hands here each year. The tanks do not only serve as interim storage space, but are at the same time also used for the exact determination of each traded volume in every transaction which takes place – they are also measuring instruments. Every tank has to be measured individually and geometrically for this, to then be able to find the volume of the liquid found in the tank at each filling stage. Previously this measurement was undertaken manually from the outside, it was extremely time consuming, dependent on the weather and physically very demanding for the staff. A laser scan procedure has been in operation for a short time, making this process considerably easier, quicker, cleaner and more efficient. The Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) brought this process into line with the strict legal requirements in close cooperation with the Eichdirektion Nord (the verification board responsible for Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern) and the company Trimble Holding GmbH and, thus, made it usable for the verification authorities.

Lagertanks im Hamburger Hafen

Im linken Bild steht ein Laserscanner inmitten eines Lagertanks. Aus den von ihm ermittelten Datenpunkten errechnet die Software ein Bild, das rechts auf einem Monitor zu sehen ist. Der Scanner erfasst alle Objekte im Inneren des Tanks genau – in diesem Beispiel die große Besuchergruppe – und bezieht sie in die Berechnung des Tankvolumens mit ein.

Rüdiger Jost, working group 1.51 Liquid Meters
Phone: ++49 (531) 592-1326, Email: ruediger.jost(at)ptb.de