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News: Smart tank terminals: Vopak develops innovation pilots in Singapore

13 December 2018, 00:00 - Singapore

Dutch tank storage company Vopak is piloting the use of drones and robots for safer inspection and digital vessel clearance tool for faster, better and safer clearance process.  

“With support from Singapore Economic Development Board, we have embarked on a digital and innovative transformation journey to make smart terminals a reality,” said Mr Tan Soo Koong, Managing Director of Vopak Terminals Singapore. 

“In the period 2017-2019 Vopak is investing EUR 100 million in technology, IT and innovation, and a part of it is used to power four of our eight global digital projects in Singapore, driving the company’s competitiveness in serving the industry safely and opening up new opportunities for our people.” 

The new initiatives tested include drone inspection, jetty inspection using an underwater remote operated vehicle (ROV), digital vessel clearance tool and robots for in-service tank inspection. Vopak’s initiatives will drive the digital transformation of the industry, leveraging on technology such as Industry Internet-of-Things, big data analytics, sensoring, mobile device and robotics to create a safer, sustainable and more productive workplace. 

“Singapore is pleased to be a pilot location for a number of Vopak’s digital initiatives. Such investments will help catalyse the digital transformation of our energy & chemicals industry and strengthen the competitiveness of our local ecosystem,” said Mr Khalil A. Bakar, Deputy Director, Energy & Resources, Singapore Economic Development Board. “More importantly, it offers opportunities for workforce to be exposed to new innovative technologies that will increase their productivity and safety.”

Robots and drones for tank inspection 

Inspections are currently performed by people working inside confined space, which means that assets have to be shutdown to ensure the safety of the inspectors. The use of robots would avoid sending staff into confined spaces, minimize the exposure of personnel to potentially hazardous conditions, reduce downtime and waste water generation, and save resources. Likewise, diving remote operated vehicles can already be used to inspect jetties and pipelines, while drones are being tested for the internal inspection of tanks. While the tank is inspected it is still available to Vopak’s clients.

Digital vessel clearance tool

On vessel clearance, traditionally, the operators have to manually check against the vessel specifications, terminal infrastructure data and a list of globally recognized embargoed vessels. With Vopak’s digital vessel clearance tool, operators can tap on internal data-driven platforms to automatically clear vessels in just four clicks, and can provide customers with the latest information on when the terminal can accommodate incoming vessels. This service is now available at all of its four terminals in Singapore. 

With the successful implementation of all the projects, Vopak can potentially reduce safety incidents, be more sustainable, improve service through better visibility on its supply chain and planning, and lower costs by improving terminal productivity. 

Earlier this year, Vopak has tested the use of innovative sensors to monitor the health of product pumps and rolled out the use of ATEX proof mobile devices at the terminals to improve work processes at the terminal and become predictive. 

Note to editor: 

Link to 25 September 2018 news release on Vopak celebrates 35 years in Singapore – driving new frontiers for a sustainable future 


Profile Royal Vopak

Royal Vopak is the world's leading independent tank storage company. Vopak operates a global network of terminals located at strategic locations along major trade routes. With a 400-year history and a strong focus on safety and sustainability, Vopak ensures efficient, safe and clean storage and handling of bulk liquid products and gases for its customers. By doing so, Vopak enables the delivery of products that are vital to our economy and daily lives, ranging from oil, chemicals, gases and LNG to biofuels and vegoils. Vopak is listed on the Euronext Amsterdam stock exchange and is headquartered in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Including joint ventures and associates, Vopak employs an international workforce of over 5,700 people. As of 27 November 2018, Vopak operates 67 terminals in 25 countries with a combined storage capacity of 36.7 million cbm, with another 2.6 million cbm under development that will be added before the end of 2020.

Profile Vopak Terminals Singapore

Vopak Terminals Singapore is a joint venture between Royal Vopak (69.5%) and the Port of Singapore Authority Corporation (30.5%). With 35 years of heritage locally, Vopak Terminals Singapore is experienced and dedicated in providing storage, handling and transshipment solutions for oil, gas and chemical industries. It operates five terminals with a combined storage capacity of more than 3 million cbm. 

Media contact 

Alexis Oh
Communications Manager, Asia & Middle East
Telephone: +65  6371 0551