Stephen Hannan of MIS Fuel Monitoring looks at why fuel measurement should be a fundamental business process based on quality data
Despite the high cost of fuel, British hauliers still have a long way to go in adopting best practice for measuring fuel efficiency. Whilst you can sense that many fleet operators are starting to toy with the concept, very few are actually doing it properly. Measurement should be a fundamental business process based on high quality data, enabling total reconciliation of fuel usage.
According to a report by the Department of Transport’s Freight Best Practice (FBP) Programme, just over half of the British operators surveyed have taken measures to increase fuel efficiency. And of these about a half have taken just one action.
That is not good enough. Whilst we can understand their concern about fuel costs, the operators should be taking positive action to invest in the right sort of equipment to provide the best quality information for managing fuel efficiency.
Amateur time is over. Measuring fuel efficiency needs high quality data, control and reconciliation. To manage efficiently operators need data to provide better visibility and exception reporting, enabling them to look at things through different angles. There are various low cost packages on offer but in my opinion, those relying on fuel cards and third party data alone, are vulnerable to abuse.
Depot fuelling and bulk storage is the definitive solution for the control of fuel management. The only true measure of the fuel usage is how much is put into each vehicle and the mileage driven between refills on a tank-to-tank basis.
Current diesel dispensers fitted with monitoring units and a back-office reporting software system, capture all the data needed to measure fuel efficiency. Where fuel cards are required, details of these transactions can be imported electronically. This ensures a complete record of all fuelling, in one place and totally under the control of the fleet operator.
With an in-house system data can be analysed, whenever necessary to produce a variety of consumption (mpg) and costing reports. And the information can be cut and shuffled to suit different operational set-ups, for single vehicles, groups of vehicles, third party accounts or for the entire fleet. Reports can also be produced to monitor individual drivers.
The third pillar is the need to establish absolute reconciliation of fuel purchased to fuel used. This is a critical factor and often ignored. Manually dipping a tank, or reading an old mechanical gauge once or twice a year, although commonplace, is just not sufficient. There are also health and safety risks associated with people climbing up onto tanks.
To properly reconcile the fuel delivered with the fuel dispensed, the storage tanks should be fitted with fully integrated electronic gauging systems. Apart from being a key requirement for leak detection and the protection of the environment, this closes the loop on fuel usage by providing a continuous update on the tank contents.”