Company | In depth

An analysis laboratory on the pipeline

At CLH Group, we’re developing a technology project to implement an online measuring system on the logistics network that will reinforce the quality of the fuel we handle and improve our efficiency.

One of the main things that differentiates our business is the quality guarantee we offer for all the products that enter and leave our facilities.

To do so, we have a number of mechanisms in the logistics system to ensure that all fuel transported, stored, distributed and delivered complies with the specifications established by current law.

Likewise, our laboratory network, with the Central Laboratory at the head, is a national reference in the fuel analyses and testing.

And in line with our philosophy of ongoing improvement, we continue to work to go beyond all of this. Taking advantage of the possibilities of the new technologies driving industry 4.0, we started a R&D&i project in 2017 to take laboratory analysis methods straight to logistics network infrastructures.

“Online measuring opens up the doors to introducing new products to the system and providing different services”

“With this initiative, we can continuously monitor the quality of the fuel at different stages with the use of technologies that provide technically equivalent results as laboratory analyses yet with sensors and equipment installed on our logistics infrastructures,” explains Salvador Martínez de Aguirre, Assistant Manager of Quality, the area that is leading and coordinating the project.

Two lines of study

The project follows two lines of research, each supported by specific technology. On the one hand, chemometric techniques based on near-infrared spectroscopy are applied to predict the properties of fuel. “Mathematical models and our own algorithms are used so the system can allow us to establish some properties of the fuel products with the simplest of assays and a high degree of accuracy which makes the whole process so much more agile,” says Beatriz Guirao, Head of the Central Laboratory.

FROM THE LABORATORY TO THE PIPELINE. Equipment is first validated in a laboratory and, if everything goes well, then pilot testing is done in the field.

After evaluating different measuring and data acquisition systems in the laboratory, we conducted a pilot study with a probe installed directly on a pipeline bypass at the entrance to the Torrejón de Ardoz facility with satisfactory results.

The second line of study focuses on the direct acquisition of data through equipment meant to measure specific fuel properties (density, sulphur content, fire point, etc.). “We’re negotiating with suppliers to do testing with the equipment selected in real time,” says the Head of the Central Laboratory.

More possibilities

With this project, which will likely be implemented in the logistics network in the year 2020, we’re again proving our commitment to innovation and the digital transformation as levers to improve our business and increase our level of excellence.

“With online measuring, we’ll be capable of being more efficient and agile all while it opens up the doors to introducing new products to the system and providing different services to customers, reinforcing CLH’s flexibility and positioning as a pioneer leading company in the sector,” concludes Beatriz Guirao.

A subsidized R&D&i project

This online measuring project is considered R&D&i and has been approved by the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI) for financial collaboration.