As a tank owner or operator, you’re probably convinced that the value of the product inside your tank is more important than the tank itself. But optimized tank design can actually add value – and not just by preventing spills or leaks. The tank is much more than just a storage vessel and it provides more than just safe storage. The design of your tank can optimize the amount of usable product and contribute directly to your bottom line. Are your tanks optimized to store the maximum amount of product? Or are there constraints impacting the fill height and heel level (dead stock)? If you have a traditional steel internal floating roof (IFR) tank or traditional external floating roof (EFR) tank, you could be leaving money on the table due to inefficiencies that limit tank working capacity and allow excess dead stock that you didn’t even know you could control.

Fortunately, with a few simple design changes and small modifications [changing the low leg settings] or major investments [a dome or aluminum floating roof (AIFR)], you can maximize both working capacity and inventory utilization. An optimized tank configuration can help you not only get the most profit from your tank, but also improve environmental performance at the same time.

Maximize working capacity to improve bottom line

There are several factors that impact working capacity: the IFR travel constraints at the top and bottom of the tank that dictate the maximum and minimum fill heights, and the depth of the floating roof system. We’ll explain how designing a tank with a domed roof versus cone roof and IFR versus EFR can improve working capacity performance.

A domed roof offers several capacity advantages compared to a cone roof. For example, cone roofs have rafters that limit how far up the floating roof can travel, while domes can be flush-mounted without the interference of rafter clips, providing more access on the top side of the tank. Domes can also allow a foam chamber nozzle to enter the tank from above the top angle of the shell if a fire strikes in the rim space, raising the overfill level and safe fill height while still allowing tanks to be in compliance.

The low-profile of an IFR also offers major capacity gains compared to an EFR. The rim height of an aluminum IFR with only a primary seal or a low-profile secondary seal is 24 inches, while the rim height of a steel pontoon EFR with a blade-style secondary seal is much higher, at over 63 inches. That means you can recover about three feet of additional working capacity if you go with a low-profile roof option. Compared to a traditional IFR, a suspended IFR can easily be lowered to increase tank working capacity even further.

Why do working capacity gains matter? Consider these examples to understand the business and environmental impact. Capacity gains for an optimized tank versus traditional EFR tank be as high as 12-14% per tank, while capacity gains for an optimized tank versus traditional IFR tank can be as high as 7-12%. In both instances, you can achieve the same working capacity at your facility with one less tank – which means you can improve business performance while eliminating an entire tank’s worth of carbon emissions and the cost for construction.

Reduce heel to recapture working capital

Heel is often overlooked because it behaves like non-moving inventory, but it should be a key consideration for tank owners and operators when evaluating tank cost.

With a suspended IFR tank, lowering the IFR can reduce heel and ultimately improve your cash flow. That’s because every barrel of heel reduction directly correlates to reduced working capital. A 12-inch reduction of the IFR operating position can reduce 6,169 barrels of heel for a 210-foot tank, and that number only gets higher for bigger tanks. The same reduction of the IFR’s position can reduce 12,590 barrels of heel for a 300-foot tank.

Suspended IFRs also work well with raised “mesa” or “plateau” bottoms that contribute to heel reduction by displacing product. By bringing up the floor to offset volume, the dead stock can be minimized to what’s within it and above it.

Even if you don’t own the product, following these strategies of lowering the roof and raising the bottom will make your tank more attractive to lease. Why? The product owner won’t have to pay for the extra dead stock, and you can share this savings in the lease rate.

These are just a few of the reasons why optimizing your tank can help you save costs and boost your facility’s operational performance. Consider upgrading your tank design to see better returns on your working capacity and inventory utilization, with the added benefit of better protecting the environment, too.

For more information on how this can be applied to your facility, click the following link Request a Quote | HMT LLC (, Interest: Tank Optimization; or reach out to your local sales/project manager today.

Remember, this can be applied to existing tanks that are coming out of service and highly recommended for any new tank to be constructed.  Pass along to the right internal teams today to ensure your next engineered bid is optimized to maximize your company’s profitability with every cycle of service.

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