Following a root and branch overhaul of its depot fuel data monitoring systems, Gregory Distribution, one of the UK’s top 100 logistics companies, has introduced an integrated group fuel management system, based on the Merridale FuelWorks web reporting service.

Hardware elements comprise equipment for data acquisition and stock management. 

Merridale Auditor control units have been installed at each of the group’s network of 16 fuelling points. These are complemented by Merridale contents monitoring and telemetry communications for all the diesel and gas oil storage tanks. In operation the Auditor units capture details of every fuelling transaction. This data together with a live stream of the current stock levels is then uploaded daily to a central processing service for analysis and the production of fuel usage reconciliation reports. Key information is also presented as a management dashboard, which can be accessed from any office PC or mobile device.

Gregory Distribution operates a mixed fleet of around 750 HGV commercial vehicles including tankers and articulated trailers.

“We have to account for the consumption of more than a million litres of fuel every month, explains business project manager, Kit Reynolds. We needed a more efficient system to monitor fuel usage. This is not only important for cost accounting and security but also operational resilience and our ability to make better informed decisions on fleet efficiencies. 

He continues: “The Merridale web service gives us the tools we need to manage every aspect of our fuel usage.  This also covers our responsibility for monitoring CO2 emissions and the impact of our operations on the environment.

“Fuel is procured both externally, on the road, as well as in bulk, for dispensing from depot fuelling facilities located at the group’s hub operations. To give some idea of current consumption, some 15 million litres of fuel is purchased directly from the oil companies per annum. The new set up puts in place a unified approach for the management of all depot fuel dispensing and stock control,” he says.

An immediate benefit of the tank contents telemetry systems is that fleet managers can now reconcile wet-stock contents against fuel drawn on a daily basis.

“We are using this feature to cross check the performance and accuracy of the pump dispensers,” says Kit Reynolds. Adding: “As anomalies are discovered, the equipment can be reviewed, and cost/benefit decisions taken about repair or replacement.”

Partnership sourcing

Having an on-going status report on fuel stocks has also opened up the scope for developing closer partnerships with the group’s fuel oil suppliers. Stock levels status can be shared, enabling future contracts to be drawn up in which the fuel oil distributors take responsibility for replenishing supplies. In effect this shifts the emphasis and potential risks from re-ordering at minimal stock level. to a more proactive supply model, allowing the supplier to make deliveries as and when it is convenient. On planning delivery routing, the supplier can see that a particular Gregory depot tank has sufficient room to accept a top-up delivery.

“This is a ‘win-win’ solution for partnership sourcing says, head of fleet compliance & vehicle procurement,  Paul Willis. “One of our major accounts involves the daily milk round collections from farms in North Devon Bearing in mind the recent ‘beastly’ weather, any disruption to our fuel supplies will impact on our operational resilience.  For the oil companies’ viewpoint, delivery costs are reduced, and we both achieve savings as the pay back from the economies of scale.”