The final stop for all D&G buses is the fuelling point located just inside the company’s depot in Stoke on Trent. D&G managers insist on full tanks at every turn around, and this applies even to vehicles returning from workshop service test runs.

As well as 42 vehicles with full tanks, the company has storage capacity for over eight thousand litres of diesel at the fuelling point. Replenishment supplies are ordered whenever the level drops to a minimum buffer of three thousand litres – usually twice a week, depending on workload which is geared around school holidays and other seasonal variations.

“This policy maximises our storage capacity,” explains Depot manager, Kevin Mitchell, adding. “Currently we are using around 50 thousand litres a month. Keeping our vehicles topped up is an important contingency against any disruption in supplies.”

Fuel management is fundamental to the company’s operational planning. As well as the storage tank, the fuelling facilities include a Merridale Auditor FS – combined diesel dispenser and monitoring unit, to authorise and record fuelling transactions. Data is downloaded to the office computer running Merridale FuelFX software for stock management and reporting.

“Detailed returns are required for routes sponsored by the local authorities. The information is also used to help cost new routes when tendering. And to set realistic fares, we need to keep a close watch on running costs over existing routes.”

In addition to fuelling records, the information is also being used to support a tyre management contract, which is charged against vehicle mileage. Designed to maximise tyre life, the contract includes a monthly inspection covering condition, depth of tread, and correct pressures.

As well as reducing whole-life costs, the programme is expected to further improve fuel efficiency performance.