Volumetric vs Other Methods: The Best Tank Calibration Method?

Tank Calibration Method

Introduction to Tank Calibration Methods

When it comes to the precise operation of tanks, whether for storage or transport of liquids, accurate tank calibration is non-negotiable. The process ensures you have precise measurements for inventory, compliance, and operational efficiency. But the burning question remains: which tank calibration method grants the best accuracy and usability? In this comprehensive exploration, we delve into the volumetric Tank Calibration Method versus other prevalent Tank Calibration Methods, guiding you towards making well-informed decisions for your calibration needs.

Understanding Volumetric Tank Calibration Method

What is Volumetric Calibration?

At its core, volumetric Tank Calibration Method involves filling a tank with a known volume of liquid, marking the level, then draining it to measure any discrepancies. It’s straightforward and direct.

Advantages of Volumetric Calibration:

Accuracy: It’s famously precise for smaller tanks.

Simplicity: The process is uncomplicated and easy to grasp.

Limitations of Volumetric Calibration:

Human Error: When performing manual measurements and calculations, the risk of human error increases. Misreading scales, recording incorrect data, or making calculation mistakes can result in calibration inaccuracies.

Tank Deformation: Tanks may deform over time due to pressure, temperature changes, or physical damage. This deformation can alter the volume of the tank, making previous calibrations inaccurate.

Complex Geometries: Tanks with complex shapes or internal structures can be difficult to calibrate accurately. Standard volumetric methods may not account for all the nuances of the tank’s shape.

Scaling Issues: As the size of the tank increases, the difficulty in ensuring accurate calibration also increases. Large tanks require more significant volumes of liquid for calibration, which can be logistically challenging and time-intensive.

Time-Consuming: Volumetric calibration can be a lengthy process, especially for large tanks. Filling and emptying the tank to measure its volume at various levels takes significant time.

Resource Intensive: The need for large amounts of liquid for calibrating bigger tanks can be impractical and costly. Procuring, handling, and managing these large volumes extend the time needed for the calibration.

Liquid Properties: The properties of the liquid being measured, such as viscosity, density, and surface tension, can affect the accuracy of volumetric measurements. Different liquids may interact with the tank surfaces in ways that alter the perceived volume.

Evaporation and Leakage: During the calibration process, evaporation of the liquid or unnoticed leaks can lead to inaccurate volume measurements.

Safety Considerations: Ensuring the safety of personnel during the calibration of large tanks can be challenging. The need for additional safety measures can further extend the time and cost required for calibration.

Environmental Impact: Managing large volumes of liquid for calibration can have environmental impacts, requiring careful handling and disposal procedures, which add to the time and effort involved.

Recalibration Frequency: Due to the time and cost involved, large tanks may not be recalibrated as frequently as smaller ones, leading to potential inaccuracies over time.

Instrument Limitations: The instruments used for volumetric calibration, such as flow meters and scales, may have limits on the maximum volume they can measure accurately. This can be a problem for large tanks, requiring multiple instruments or methods, which increases time and complexity.

Drainage and Drying Time: After calibration, large tanks require significant time to drain and dry, especially if different liquids or subsequent procedures need to be implemented.

Other Tank Calibration Methods

There are several contenders in the calibration arena, each with unique merits and demerits.

Strapping Method:

An older technique involving physical measurements and calculations to estimate volume. While cost-effective, it lacks the precision of more modern methods.

Laser Scanning Method:

Technology-driven solutions that offer higher accuracy and efficiency. However, the initial investment and maintenance can be significant. We at AIMS are specialized in Laser Scanning Method.

Hydro-static Weighing:

A method that calculates volume based on water displacement, offering high accuracy but requiring specialized equipment.

Comparing Volumetric Calibration with Other Methods


Laser scanning method provides highly accurate 3D measurements of the tank’s internal geometry, capturing detailed surface variations. Suitable for tanks where precision is critical, such as in high-value industries (e.g., oil and gas, petrochemicals). Typically tank size varies from 5000 gallons and can go up to and beyond 1 million gallons.

Time Consumption:

Volumetric and hydro static methods are notably time-intensive, contrasting with the swiftness of laser methods. Laser scanning is generally faster, requiring a single scan of the tank’s interior, significantly reducing the time required. Ideal for large tanks or when quick calibration is needed to minimize downtime.

Cost Analysis:

Strapping (Initially) and volumetric methods (long term) typically involve lower initial costs, but strapping may be more cost-effective for smaller tanks. Volumetric calibration, though labor-intensive, doesn’t require expensive equipment. Strapping and Volumetric methods are best for small and medium sized tanks with limited budgets. Initial costs run higher for Laser Scanning methods, but they may offer savings over time through efficiency and lower manpower requirements. Typical tank sizes here vary from 1000 gallons to 5000 gallons.

Ease of Implementation:

Volumetric calibration’s simplicity is unmatched, making it accessible without the need for advanced training or equipment. While it requires skilled technicians, the process is straightforward compared to the specialized knowledge needed for laser scanning. Suitable for facilities with experienced technicians who can manage the manual process efficiently.

Environmental Impact: Laser scanning is a non-contact method that does not involve the use of liquids, reducing environmental impact. Ideal for environmentally sensitive operations or locations with stringent environmental regulations.

Safety: Laser Scanning Method involves minimal physical interaction with the tank, allowing operators to conduct the scan from a safe distance. Best for tanks located in hazardous environments or where safety is a high concern.

Tank Geometry: Laser Scanning Method excels with complex geometries, providing precise 3D models regardless of the tank’s shape or internal features. Suitable for tanks with complex shapes or internal structures that complicate traditional measurement methods.

Repeatability and Consistency: Laser Scanning Method offers high repeatability and consistency, as the method is automated and less influenced by external factors. Ideal for applications requiring frequent recalibration with consistent results.

Data Utilization: Volumetric calibration provides direct volume measurements but limited additional data. Laser Scanning method produces comprehensive 3D models that can be used for various purposes beyond calibration, such as structural analysis and maintenance planning.

Real-world Cases

Real-world comparisons often reveal that the choice of calibration method hinges on specific project requirements, echoing the sentiment that one size does not fit all.

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Choosing the Best Method for Your Needs

Factors to Consider

  • Laser Scanning: This method is best for accuracy, time efficiency, adaptability to complex geometries, and data utilization.
  • Volumetric Calibration: This method is best for straightforward manual processes with skilled technicians, especially for smaller to medium-sized tanks.
  • Strapping: This method is best for cost-effective initial setups and minimal maintenance.
  • Hydro-static Weighing: This method is best for handling large volumes and providing straightforward measurements in large tanks.

The choice of method ultimately depends on the specific needs and constraints of the calibration task at hand emphasizing suitability over popularity.


1. Is volumetric calibration suitable for all tank sizes?

No, it’s ideal for smaller tanks due to practicality and accuracy concerns with larger volumes.

2. How do Laser Scanning methods improve upon traditional ones?

They offer greater accuracy and efficiency, especially beneficial for larger tanks and when time is of the essence.

3. Can volumetric calibration be automated?

While automation is more challenging due to its manual nature, certain aspects can be semi-automated for efficiency.

4. What’s the most cost-effective calibration method?

Strapping and volumetric methods generally have lower initial costs, but the long-term cost-effectiveness depends on the specific application.

5. Are there emerging technologies in tank calibration?

Yes, ongoing research into more accurate and efficient calibration methods is expected to yield innovative solutions in the near future.


In the calibration contest, volumetric holds its ground for simplicity and specific applications. However, as tanks scale up and precision demands increase, the tilt shifts towards Laser Scanning methods. The key lies in evaluating your unique requirements, ensuring the chosen method aligns with your accuracy, cost, and implementation criteria.

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