Total Oil Great Britain Ltd - Terminal Automation

Total Oil Great Britain Ltd has completed two major projects to replace the automated control of tanker loading at its Leeds and Nottingham Terminals with one of the most advanced computer controlled systems in the UK oil industry.

The automation system was developed and implemented by Advanced Control Systems Ltd working closely with TOTAL's senior electrical engineer and Information Technology department at specification stage.

The automation system is configured around a multiple processor, Intel Multibus II computer, running iRMX, Windows NT and Informix.

Several TCP/IP networked PCs in the Terminal control rooms, together with WAN-linked PCs located at TOTAL's head office, provide management and supervisory control. The PC programmes run under Windows 95 . Control of pump motors, solenoids, loading rack interlocks and so on, is carried out by Programmable Logic Controllers.

In addition to controlling vehicle access and product loading, the automation system transmits and receives management information via the TCP/IP network to an IBM RS6000 computer acting as a front-end to TOTAL's corporate mainframe.

Orders for product are received via a central ordering point and then sent down the line to the appropriate Terminal. When a driver arrives at one of the Terminals a procedure is implemented by touch screen and card reader system. Each driver has a personal card and PIN. After swiping the card and entering the PIN, a list of product loads is displayed. The driver selects the load to be collected and, if other procedures are correct, the entry gate barrier is raised to allow the vehicle to drive into the Terminal.

Should there be no loads for collection, or if the driver's or vehicle's safe loading passes are invalid, an alarm in the Terminal control room is activated. This, and other alarms, together with the touch screen dialogue, can be viewed on all the PC's on the network

Each of the product loading racks also has a card reader so that the automation system can identify the driver and required product. Loading is monitored by the automation computer. Graphics on the PCs show the exact loading stage for each individual product at each of the Terminal's loading arms. The computer calculates how much product is needed or is available, and loading is accepted to within one or two litres, from 36,000 litres, with the aid of modern electronic metering.

Each loading arm has local control as well as electronic pre-setting. Specific requirements such as product density or blending can be set at Head Office and downloaded over the network to the electronic heads via the automation computer.

When the driver is leaving the Terminal a procedure for logging out is followed with the aid of a touch screen and card reader system. As soon as the driver has accepted the displayed load information, a Bill of Laden is automatically printed out. The exit barrier is raised when the driver removes the Bill of Laden from the collection chute.

Another innovation jointly developed by TOTAL and Advanced Control Systems Ltd is a software package 'free issued' to TOTAL's customers. This enables the customer to enter orders directly into the automation system over a secure modem link.


Orders that are already in the automation system can be amended prior to loading. There is also an option for the customers to view the loads collected by their drivers.

One of the key changes at both Terminals is in the amount of time freed for other duties. Orders received over the network are scheduled into loads overnight, so that when drivers arrive at the Terminal the following day all the necessary load information is available.