Use of Technology
The electronic and digital technological advancements that are occurring worldwide can increase the efficiency and quality of O&M manuals. Geographic Information System (GIS) and database software can be used to develop an electronic record of the fuel facility. Smart maps can be quickly developed that link text and photographs and can illustrate current, predicted, or future fueling operations.
A fuel facility manager can also use sensors that send data through radio waves or phone lines to a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system to automate and control fuel facility operations. These technologies can be implemented at the facility and over the internet as a remote management tool. Each manager should choose and implement those technologies that decrease long-term operation and compliance costs while increasing the quality and safety of the fuel facility.
Many airports are in the process of integrating GIS into their operations. Common layers in an airport GIS illustrate airport tenant sites, fuel facilities and hydrant systems, stormwater pathways, deicing facilities, utilities, and environmental data. The advancement of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology enables additional airport features and descriptive information to be added to the GIS platform. Fuel facilities in particular are conducive to these technologies.
For example, if as-built drawings are not available, a diagram of the equipment is still required as a key part of the process. During the inspection phase, a GPS unit, personal data assistant (PDA), and digital camera can be used to collect information that can then be downloaded directly into the GIS. These data collection methods can result in a much more user-friendly electronic version of the O&M manual at a significant cost savings over conventional methods.
Another developing technological area for fuel facilities is in SCADA applications. With tank-level sensors installed in the tanks and line-pressure sensors installed in the piping, the operator can have a remote view of the current conditions at a fuel facility using SCADA applications. The valves can be operated automatically if line pressures decrease below pre-determined levels. Also, pre-determined responses can be programmed in the event of releases or spills from the system.
Manuals are only effective if they are put to use. Creating a user-friendly document that includes accurate facility drawings, hyperlinks to current regulations, and site photographs for visual and interactive aids is an effective and efficient approach to operating and maintaining an aviation fuel storage facility in accordance with acceptable standards.
For owners or operators who have multiple systems, creating a template document saves considerable time overall in preparing individual manuals for each facility. The template approach also assures a standardization of the procedures and implementation process.
About the Author
Sarah Smith is president of Madison Environ-mental Services, a consulting firm based in Boxford, MA. She specializes in FBO/airport-related environmental management and resolution, and has managed projects for aviation, petroleum, and industrial interests. She may be reached at (978) 352-5086 or Sarah.Smith@prodigy.net.
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