Choosing the right fuel management system

Piusi Cube 70 MC Fuel Management System

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What is a fuel management system?

Put most simply, a fuel management system is designed to put the transport manager or company owner back in control of their fuel. Generally speaking, fuel management systems are installed to provide the user with both fuel tank security and fuel tank monitoring capabilities. Common features include only allowing authorised users to dispense fuel, only allowing authorised vehicles to be refuelled and the recording of transaction data including who took what fuel and when.

There are two very different ends to the fuel management system scale. The higher end, which you may see used in the likes of a large national haulier’s yard, would be your “bells and whistles” type of sophisticated system. These systems may include features such as registration scanning when a vehicle drives up to be refuelled, finger print recognition, wireless transaction data transfer and the prevention of diesel being dispensed into a petrol vehicle.

The other end of the spectrum is the type of fuel tank security system that simply requires a key or pin code to electronically unlock the pump, thus preventing unauthorised people from using the fuel.
The Piusi fuel management systems are somewhere in the middle of the scale. The unit covers the most common fuel monitoring and security features including recording which driver or vehicle used the fuel, when the refuelling transaction took place and how much fuel was taken. It also verifies who the user is by use of a registered electronic touch key or pin code, which is the only way they can gain access to the fuel.

Deciding on the right fuel management system

With a large variety of fuel management systems on the market, all of which differ in terms of levels of sophistication and features, picking the system that suits your requirements may be confusing. The key is to think about what you are trying to achieve by implementing such a system, and weigh up the benefits of the system relative to your budget, considering the savings the unit could help you obtain in the future.

The first part to consider is whether a retrofit fuel management unit is required, which can be installed straight into an existing refuelling system. If the existing pumping equipment is in good condition, this is obviously the most cost effective solution. However, many fuel management systems come complete with dispensing features for brand new applications or where the existing equipment is getting old.

The required level of security should also be taken into account. With costly finger print identification and registration scanning, is it impossible for any other driver or vehicle to use the system than are authorised.  Whereas the cheaper, electronic locking system ensures only authorised people use the fuel not how much they are using (they could also be using the company’s fuel to fill up their own vehicles!).

For a one man band, a simple electronic pump lock may be sufficient: He doesn’t need to monitor the transactions as it is only him or one other refuelling, but needs to make sure that fuel cannot be dispensed by a third party. However, for a large company with lots of drivers that the owner doesn’t know personally, he may want to put more tight security measures in place whereby he can see what fuel is being taken and when.

Another factor to consider is the level of time saving a fuel monitoring unit can provide. Any fuel management system that records transaction data saves the time of users writing down on a note pad how much fuel they have taken. However, there are other elements to a unit that can impact upon how much time it will save.

If you were a large haulage company with 20 refuelling stations with lots of vehicles using each pump every day, it would be very time consuming to go to each fuel management unit every couple of days when the memory gets full to download the data. Therefore, you would require something over and above a standard fuel management system to make the data collection process less time consuming. For example you may choose to have a single fuel management system that has the ability to monitor a number of fuel stations, you may choose a system with a really large memory or a system that has automatic wireless data transfer to a computer. 

However, if a single fuel management system was required to monitor one fuel tank, which has a handful of vehicles refuelling from it and is positioned just outside of the owner’s office, manually downloading the data from the unit once a month wouldn’t be too much of a drain on time. Here, the cost of having a more advanced unit is unlikely to be worth it given the lack of savings it would provide.

There are of course a range of more situation-specific factors to consider in the cost-benefit analysis. For example, a large, blue chip company may want to use a fuel monitoring system for looking at cost savings associated with fuel efficiency. They may want odometer reading features as well as the standard transaction data in order to look at their drivers’ miles per gallon to determine who is not driving economically.

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