Vision AI Use Cases for the Energy Sector: Monitor Storage Tanks & Detect VOC Leaks

Despite strict regulations to mitigate emissions and keep communities safe, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that defective equipment alone emits 70,367 tons of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the atmosphere each year. Emissions from faulty valves and connectors (often due to wear and tear or improper maintenance) account for about 90% or leaks, releasing more VOCs into the atmosphere than other common culprits like wastewater and process vents. A single refinery may emit as much as 700 tons each year as a result of equipment failure. 

Volatile Organic Compounds and Volatile Hazardous Air Pollutants

Prolonged exposure to VOCs, even outdoors, can result in a number of adverse health effects. According to the EPA’s reporting, ongoing VOC leakage contributes to ozone formation near the ground and can produce smoggy conditions, which can aggravate a range of respiratory conditions, even in healthy adults. Certain VOCs known as volatile hazardous air pollutants (VHAPs), which include benzene and formaldehyde, are potentially even more harmful and can lead to cancer and reproductive effects. Leaks aren’t just dangerous, but costly. EPA research dating back to the early 1990s estimated that each ton of leakage due to faulty equipment cost energy providers more than $1,300. 

Energy providers have not only taken action to address the causes of leaks, but set ambitious goals to eliminate or offset their emissions altogether. The sector has undoubtedly grown both safer and more sustainable in the years since the above EPA statistics were first published. Still, without the added capabilities of vision AI-enhanced processes, they’re potentially missing opportunities for improvement and letting issues like leaks go undetected.

Vision AI for Energy Providers

By leveraging Plainsight’s no-code platform and a range of specialized, AI-powered devices (including thermal cameras, infrared cameras, and edge technology), energy providers realize the benefits of vision AI with speed and ease, helping them to:

  • Reduce product losses: Even a negligible leak represents the loss of saleable product that providers will never recover. 
  • Keep employees and communities safe: Reducing unnecessary emissions of hazardous gasses and particles has the immediate effect of reducing health risks for both your employees and surrounding communities.
  • Avoid fees and regulatory action: Models for tracking leaks to the sources and addressing them quickly have the potential to reduce expenses state and local authorities may subject energy providers to based on total emissions.

Real-Time Leak Detection

The EPA has outlined best practices for introducing proactive leak detection and replacement (LDAR) programs. Enhancing these programs with vision AI models improves results, helping energy providers scan worksites continually and send proactive alerts related to both the location and severity of leaks. 

Tank Fill-Level Monitoring

Custom models deployed through Plainsight’s vision AI platform empower providers to see more. Models for remotely measuring tank levels with accuracy ensure businesses can proactively address concerns without opening the gauge (thief) hatch and releasing hazardous VOCs into the atmosphere. 

More Reasons to Try Plainsight

With models for automating operational analytics and key processes, Plainsight helps energy providers realize the full value of their visual data in days, not months. 

Site Security and Risk Detection

Leaks are far from the only daily risks for the employees of energy providers. Vision AI models make it simple to proactively monitor for unsafe or non-compliant behavior as well as workplace hazards like spills and debris. 

PPE Compliance

From masks to protective headgear, various types of personal protective equipment (PPE) help keep workplaces safe and productive. Customized object detection models for PPE can make it simpler to enforce compliance and, when necessary, take corrective action. 

Reduce Maintenance and Repair Costs

Reactive maintenance and repairs are costly, but a more predictive and data-based approach can dramatically reduce downtime and ensure equipment is up and running as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

Schedule a Demo

Let Plainsight’s team show you how streamlining the computer vision lifecycle can help reduce VOC emissions and transform your business. Schedule a demo today to discuss your needs and the ways we can help you transform operations by developing use case-specific applications for leak detection, tank fill-level monitoring, worksite safety, and more. We’ll provide the vision AI services and resources you need for creating, training, and deploying custom vision AI models to see value quickly. 

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