Key Takeaways from Regulations, Resignation and Robots: A New Era for Aboveground Storage Tanks

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Posted on May 18

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“And all the data in the world doesn't mean anything if one, you can't find it and two, you can't do something with it.”
-Earl Crochet, The Tank Whisperer

Last week John Evans, HUVR’s Business Development Director met with industry luminary (and HUVR advisor) Earl “The Tank Whisperer” Crochet, owner of Crochet Midstream Consulting, to discuss the current state of aboveground storage tanks. While no substitute for viewing the webinar (the on-demand link is available below), we thought we’d give a brief overview of the key takeaways from their discussion regarding the current challenges faced by asset owners and inspectors.

Right now, the tank inspection industry is in the midst of a perfect storm. A complex and evolving situation to be sure, but there are three pieces that are the main drivers:

  • The Big Crew Change: Industrial inspections in general are seeing a massive brain drain as the veteran workers retire, taking much of their hard-won experience with them. This results in a workforce without the institutional knowledge required to ensure operational excellence.
  • New technology: Inspection technology is evolving at an exponential rate. Robotics, be they drones, crawlers, rovers, etc., are a potential source of relief for the loss of veteran inspectors, but to fully leverage their potential, businesses must jettison some long-held beliefs and evolve to meet the moment.
  • Increased regulatory requirement: Texas’s SB 900 has introduced new regulations for tanks, especially concerning smaller tanks, which were previously regulated differently than their larger cousins. This will most likely trigger new efforts in other states that have similar regulatory laws as Texas. Ensuring compliance can be tricky for teams inexperienced in navigating the complicated web of rules created by numerous government agencies.

These challenges are formidable. However, there are solutions in the offing, and John and Earl discuss how the industry can evolve to meet the perfect storm head-on and thrive in this new environment. Trying to distill their combined wisdom down to simple talking points would do both them and you a tremendous disservice, so we will limit it to this: none of the problems facing tank inspectors and owners are unsolvable. The technology and expertise already exists in the market to responsibly ensure compliance and increase operational excellence.

Click here to view the webinar>>

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