Radar Advertising - Deceptive or Not?

M.I. Wright

Recently I read an advertisement written by another tank gauging manufacturer. It said “Have you ever thought about what it takes to know the exact net volume in a million-barrel tank of crude oil, without even touching the stuff?”

As a tank-gauging manufacturer, we believe every tank gauging manufacture and potential user has thought of this idea. If there was a technology that determined the exact net volume without even "touching the stuff", everyone would be using it. The reality of the matter is there is no technology on the market for Net Volume where you don’t have to touch the stuff.

Obviously, the company was advertising “Radar Technology”. It is true that Radar can measure level without touching the stuff. However, they stated “what it takes to know the exact net volume without touching the stuff?”

Let's be honest. In order to determine net volume by level, you need to know temperature throughout the product height within the tank. Can this be done without touching the stuff? The entry of a temperature probe is obtrusive, i.e., it touches the stuff.

Second, in order to determine net volume by level, you need accurate product density throughout the height of the product. Can this be done without touching the stuff? Maybe, the advertiser considers the manual hand line samples and laboratory analysis usually needed to determine the density with radar technology as not a part of their scope of work. They could also suggest the addition of pressure transducers, (i.e., additional instruments, tank entries, installation, electrical connections, and maintenance cost) but this would be touching the stuff.

Third, in order to determine net volume by level, you need to determine free and entrained water in product. Can this be done without touching the stuff, or is this another example of the advertiser thinking that it's not within their scope of work. They could suggest the addition of a capacitance probe, (i.e., additional instruments, installation, and maintenance cost) but this still would be touching the stuff.

Topics affecting “Exact” (or better worded “Accurate”) Net Volume like standpipe or gauge pipe, calibration pin, false echo, bottom reference error, temperature accuracy (not resolution), density stratification, temperature stratification, entrained water, etc. were not mentioned at all. Topics affecting cost of ownership, i.e., equipment purchase, installation and maintenance cost, like the of number of instruments required, number of tank openings required, structural tank modifications, in or out of service installation, number of electrical connections, power requirements, and integration cost, were not mentioned.

The advertisement went on to allude to other benefits, but with the same type of non-definitive jargon. Is it better to paint a blue sky to potential customers by inferring you are providing something that your technology can not do? OR Is it better to be truthful and inform potential customers of what your technology can do?

We trust in your intelligence when reading these advertisements.

 

 


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