• Sam Reid

Digital Transformation in the Bulk Liquids Storage and Distribution Industries

Digital Transformation in the Bulk Liquids Storage and Distribution Industries: Data Aggregation & Analytics Focus


Breaking down data silos with terminal automation

Since the late 1980s, Dearman Systems has been helping bulk liquids storage companies connect to their field instrumentation, aggregate the data, and automate their operations.


Dearman’s software is centered around the complexity of managing product movement and measurement — terminal logistics — where different position holders are delivering and removing different products 24/7 365.

By connecting to the instrumentation at metered loading racks, unloading racks, weigh scales, and tank farms, Dearman helps their customers ensure they are receiving or dispensing the right amount of product from/for the right position holder.


Since the Dearman software contains data about product types, volumes, position holders, etc, our system could easily support business applications such as inventory management and contracts and invoicing. These business applications help our customers improve accuracy, reduce administrative overhead, and provide their customers with a better experience.


For example, Bluewing Midstream uses Dearman’s Terminal Automation System at their Brownsville facility. According to Danny Malone, VP of Engineering, Construction and Operations at Bluewing, Dearman allows Bluewing’s customers to “log into [the] terminal automation system and see on a screen exactly where their product is, what’s been moved, what truck is loaded, and where it’s at in the loading process.”



We’ve got the data and the track record of leaning into tech advancement

Dearman (and other vendors) have been providing terminal automation systems for decades now. IoT and edge computing have become buzzwords in tech, but connecting to devices in the field with an onsite server and then sending the data to a corporate data center is nothing new for us. At this time, Dearman has over 25 out of the box connectors (see the full list) for the leading field instrumentation and is constantly normalizing and utilizing that data on site at terminals and also sending that data to corporate data centers for backup and centralized business use cases.


Although not every US terminal is automated or has advanced site instrumentation, many of them do and this industry is not behind in technology at least when it comes to process control and product measurement.


Where we do see room for improvement is by further embracing data and using software to knock down data silos. This will enable bulk liquids storage and distribution companies to get the most out of their data for real-time analytics. A unified data store also enables the deployment of more powerful business applications that have real-time access to all of a company’s data.


Now we’ll look at a few vendors who are enabling companies to aggregate their data and how Dearman is solving similar business problems in a verticalized manner for their customers.



Modern data unification & analytics: Fivetran, Databricks, & Snowflake

Highly-touted software companies like Fivetran are helping companies in many industries to connect to their vast array of data sources to a centralized database for analysis, boasting the ability to connect to data sources in as little as 5 minutes.


Databricks helps large companies unify their data and run analysis on that data including queries and visualizations. Databricks provides tooling for managing security and also third party access to their data lake.


Snowflake, which recently IPOed and has a market cap around $82B, also helps companies unify their data in a similar manner to Databricks, although there are a few key differences which are laid out in this article by Estevan McCalley called “Snowflake vs Databricks: Where Should You Put Your Data?”


Why are these software companies so important? In a blog post, Fivetran noted that 90% of the world’s data was generated in 2013 driven largely by the internet of things. The volume of data generated will only continue to grow and unfortunately, as Mr. McCalley points out in his blog post, 55% of data goes unused.


In the same blog post, Fivetran lays out a clear reason why companies need to use their data.


“In 1964, a company stayed on the Fortune 500 for an average of 33 years. By 2016, the average length of tenure shrank to 24 years. By 2027, it is projected to be 12 years.”


The main point here is that (increasingly) companies understand the importance of unifying all of their data for business intelligence capabilities and they are seeking technology and vendors that make this possible. While this won’t be easy or cheap, it is a worthwhile task.



How this applies to the bulk liquids storage and distribution industries

So how can companies in the bulk liquids storage and distribution industries unify their plethora of largely on-premise data sources? Will they use a cloud based solution like Snowflake or Fivetran or a hybrid, developer-heavy solution like Databricks?


Perhaps they should consider Dearman to deliver them an end-to-end solution. Dearman has decades of experience with data sources unique to these industries and has always delivered software solutions rather than products. Our team ensures all your data sources are properly connected to our unifying database, UNITY, and will also ensure you have the reports and analytics you need. If something breaks or you need to add an additional data source, we are there to fix it.


Dearman Enterprise Management Diagram

Additionally, as mentioned before, Dearman can deploy the following business applications on top of this data which are designed specifically for the industry:


  • Accounting Interface

  • Contracts & Invoicing

  • Inventory Management

  • Scheduling & Customer Orders

  • Enterprise Reporting

  • ExSTARS & Tax Reporting

  • RIN Management & EPA Compliance Reporting


Companies in the bulk liquids storage and distribution industries that utilize all their data for real-time reporting, provide seamless scheduling to their customers, and automate their contracts and invoicing workflows will lead the way. Dearman is here to help and you can reach us here.



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