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Process Automation

When you think of a well site where hydraulic-fracturing (also known as fracking) is done, what equipment comes to mind? You have the basic essentials like high pressure pumps, blenders, water storage and sand storage, and then you have process instrumentation for level, flow, and pressure measurement…but, what about weighing technology?

While flow meters, level and pressure transmitters are able to measure and monitor many of the liquids and gases throughout the fracking process, they aren’t the most suitable instruments for measuring weight or mass, which can bring the level of your sand inventory into question.

Your inventory is the key component to your entire operation – whether it is at the mine, distribution center or well site, if you run out of sand, your operation will be jeopardized. There can also be cost savings by well managed inventory. For example, accurately knowing how much sand is at a well site can significantly reduce demurrage fees. Therefore, it’s essential to be able to measure how much sand you have in order assure you always have enough sand on-site.

How is sand currently being measured?

Sand is currently being measured either by eye-balling it or by using a level device. While these techniques may be able to give you enough information so that you can order it, they are not able to accurately tell you how much sand you have on-site. In addition, the level devices might break or falter from the harsh environments and/or coarseness of the sand, whereas belt scales are built for harsh environments and are still able to maintain accuracies up to 0.125%.

How does weighing technology help mines?


At the mine, after the sand is extracted from the ground, it’s mixed with water and sent through the hydroclassifier, which is then used to separate the sand based on size. After going through the hydroclassifier, water is separated from the sand and the sand is transferred to stock piles. It is stored there until it’s moved to the dry processing side of the mine. To accurately track inventory levels of each sand grade, two Siemens MUS belt scales are used to measure how much sand is put on the stock pile and another is used to measure the sand as it is removed, allowing the mine to accurately track how much sand is on the stock piles. Siemens’ weighing technology takes the guess work out of tracking and managing sand stock.

To learn more about weighing technologies in the oil and gas industry, please click here.

What techniques have you used to track and measure your sand?