Another  innovation from NUL

Another innovation from NUL

ROMA – TIISO Ramadumane, a Research Assistant at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) has developed a remote sensing system measuring the liquid level in storage devices using a mobile phone. Ramadumane is supervised by Mr Seforo Mohlalisi.
The system can measure the amount of diesel in a generator. It is essential for farmers, construction companies, filling stations and warehouses that store fuel and other liquids in bulk. You no longer have to use a dipstick.

“You just got to keep checking your cell-phone and the system will do the work for you, miles away from the holding tanks,” Ramadumane said.
It will also tell you the rate at which your diesel, your petrol, your water, your milk, is being used up.
It will alert you through an SMS or a phone call when a liquid in a tank is about to run out.

Ramadumane said dozens of tests over the months and in different environments have proven that the system is “extremely accurate”.
“When it tells you that only twenty litres are left in your storage, please refill it means only twenty litres are left. We have tested and retested its accuracy many times,” he said.
So why does Ramadumane’s system matter in the broader scheme of things?

Suppose your business had a standby generator diesel generator that kicks in when electricity goes out. The idea situation is that there should be a seamless transition from one source of power to the next and the customer hardly notices.

The problem, however, is that you won’t know when the power will be cut and for how long.
That simply means you also won’t know how quickly your diesel tanks will need to be refilled.

That means you have to make a few trips to the diesel tank or generator to check how much fuel is left.
In remote areas where your systems are far from power lines, you take another option.

You either have just a diesel generator or both a generator and a solar panel for providing power.
In such a dual system, when solar power goes down, the generator kicks in.
But you don’t know when your solar power will be off and for how long.

So in both cases, you still don’t know when and for how long your generator will rely on the diesel unless you go there to measure.
In some circumstances you are not even sure if diesel was delivered to the tank in the first place.

Yes, some of your naughty workers may deliver half the diesel you paid for, and take half for themselves.
And you don’t know when and if an intruder came in to steal some of your diesel.
Ramadumane’s system solves all these problems with its three components.

The first component is a sensor which senses diesel level with surgical accuracy.
Once the level is detected, it is converted into volume based on the geometry of the tank and sends the volume to a server through internet.
“Then we designed an internet accessed display system which picks data from the server to either make graphs or to show you the diesel level in real-time (or as it happens), on your mobile phone,” he said.

The graphs are important as they can give you an idea of how the level is changing over time. You can even choose your period of interest and watch the level variations in the use of the diesel.
Suppose you see level drop from full to zero in 60 seconds.
It could only mean someone was stealing your diesel (even though you didn’t see him).

When the diesel is about to run out (it’s up to you to decide at what volume that will be), the system no longer waits for you to check on your mobile, at your own convenient time.
Rather, it sends you a message (sms).

And Ramadumane has another plan. “We are considering to also making it call you with a recorded voice message because most people respond faster to phone calls than messages.”

Own Correspondent

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