Illinois, US-based Liquid Controls – a specialist in fuel metering and measurement – has been a leading player in the development of CENTRILOGiQ, a new electronic register platform designed to interconnect communication systems in the airport fuelling process. The system is agnostic of fuelling truck manufacturer or customer, offering full visibility of relevant data to all parties in the fuelling chain
CENTRILOGiQ is not in and of itself just a Liquid Controls system, says Dan Clevenger, product manager – Liquid Controls & Avery-Hardoll brands – it is the result of a multi-year collaboration with leading fuelling equipment manufacturers, airlines and fuel service providers and a technology intended to be “for the benefit of the industry as a whole”.
Clevenger explains that CENTRILOGiQ is the result of combining the latest fuelling, sensing and data communication technologies from leading manufacturers and service providers in order to produce a customer-configurable, industry-wide communication platform that supports end users’ preferred systems and methodologies, regardless of manufacturer or brand.
The new platform provides both a pathway in for third-party sensing and control systems, and a pathway out for data and communications to end-customers (airlines, oil companies and so on), thus offering full visibility of all aspects of the fuelling process whether displayed on an electronic meter register, on a smart phone, tablet, or back office system.
Central to the platform are the Liquid Controls LCR.iQ or Avery-Hardoll Masterload.iQx electronic registers which monitor and record metrological fuelling data, provide fuelling automation, tie in critical system sensors and inputs, and bridge data communication between the fueller, the fuelling equipment and the back office.
However, while specifically designed to integrate with leading aviation fuel meters like those of LC and Avery-Hardoll, the system is indeed compatible with other flow meter brands to support system in-situ retrofitting without requiring replacement of existing flow meters.
A whole range of third-party contributors can be given kits by Liquid Controls (LC) to build their own connections to CENTRILOGiQ in a way that is proprietary to them, in relation to both software and hardware.
LC is 24 months into the ongoing joint project to develop this next-generation fuelling platform, one that will offer logics and a pathway for all parties to connect sensors, trucks, fleets and back office systems together as one, thanks to an open-source software developers kit (SDK) that provides customers or third-party software developers with access to data and controls on the LCR.iQ in a way not dissimilar to how Android and Apple provide application developers access to certain embedded code for the development of third-party apps.
The ‘Centralized Logic’ approach of CENTRILOGiQ will allow component or system providers to connect (wired or wirelessly) to the system to push/pull/report/automate certain aspects of the fuelling process, like remote setting of fuel order pre-sets, dispatching full detail flight information to the register, and logging or reporting real-time and historical fuelling data to ‘cloud’ servers or fleet automation enterprise systems. “Wireless accessibility is not just the way of the future, it is the way of now,” Clevenger notes.
Unfortunately, the industry as a whole compartmentalises the tolerance of technology used in our daily lives from that of our work lives, and people tend to tolerate technology in the workplace that lags significantly behind commercially available technology they use at home every day, Clevenger considers.
“We took a ‘low tolerance threshold’ approach to every aspect of the fuelling automation process and applied an ‘ideal solution’ of both commercially available or ‘yet to be designed’ technology. From each ideal solution, we inched our way back to the highest practical/deployable solution that would improve the processes at hand,” he says.
“Every aspect of the development process was taken through this process to deploy what is considered the latest application of current technologies to improve workplace safety, efficiency, and adaptability. While some of the solutions include off-the-shelf technology such as embedded Wi-Fi and Bluetooth communications, many of the solutions required hardware or software innovations developed by Liquid Controls and their partners.”
Quicker adoption of new technologies
Up until now, Clevenger observes, fuelling systems and the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that develop them have relied on certain proprietary systems that either by design or by circumstance inhibit inclusion of budding developers to introduce new technologies that would otherwise benefit the industry.
But this new platform, he says, will enable a pathway for companies large and small to integrate their technologies in a much more useful way, eliminating many common barriers to entry into the market.
As a result of the CENTRILOGiQ platform, he says, airlines, oil companies and fuelling service providers will be the beneficiaries of high multipliers of realised value. There will be a new incentive for manufacturers and software companies to invest in product development, with a new and faster pathway to market for unique innovations that deliver benefits in fuelling safety, operational efficiencies, data management and even lower cost equipment.
Based on end-to-end, two-way data connections and control, the CENTRILOGiQ ‘ecosystem’ gives “complete fuelling visibility”, Clevenger believes. It offers a wide range of benefits for users, he insists. Highly configurable to individual customers’ needs and adaptable to future requirements, with the core technology built on a framework that is open and flexible for new technologies as they are introduced to the market, it is also, as already noted, sensor-agnostic and makes use of not only wireless connectivity and cloud server networking but other innovative means of connection and data transfer “never before realised in the industry”.
From the days of mechanical registers back in the 1950s, the technology associated with refuelling has come a long way, Clevenger remarks. While electronic registers have become commonplace, the CENTRILOGiQ platform manages fuelling logic in a way not seen in other electronic registers, he says – an open-source tool for customers and third-party users acting as a central point of distribution and management for fuelling operations, configurable to their own unique applications.