Wincanton has upgraded its depot refuelling facilities at the Screwfix distribution centre in Stafford by installing fuel monitoring on its bulk fuelling equipment. This update enables the implementation of Merridale’s web-based fuel management reports service. It also brings the Stafford facilities in line with the fuelling point at the newly commissioned Screwfix distribution centre in Lichfield.
Merridale fuel management systems are installed at both fuelling points. Drivers use a fob device to obtain fuel on a self-serve basis. The control unit automatically records the details of the transaction for upload to the administration computer. A Merridale fuel management system has been used at Stafford since these facilities were originally installed in 2008.
“Based on this experience and its proven reliability, it was decided to continue using the Merridale system and harmonise both sites under the Merridale FuelWorks web-based reporting service, explains transport operations manager, Kevin Davies.
He continues: “Currently we are in a transition period. As the new Lichfield centre ramps up, our core fleet, which now comprises 88 vehicles and 20 hire units will be split between both sites.
“It is important therefore that drivers can fuel from either site. Screwfix has an expanding retail presence – opening one new store every week. The Lichfield RDC has been designed to meet this growing logistics requirement. The new site has a larger 125K litres capacity bulk fuel storage tank, compared to the 88K litres tank at Stafford. Both tanks have been supplied by Ledbury Welding & Engineering.
“Fuel usage is currently between 13 and 15K of white diesel per day. Both sites have dual compartment tanks to provide red diesel facilities required for the trailer tugs. Deliveries of road diesel to Stafford are currently every two or three days. Usually these are made as 36K tanker loads. Since Wincanton operates its own fuel distribution service, we find that having the real-time tank contents information is very useful for accepting ad hoc deliveries,” says Kevin Davies.
Commenting on the switch over to the new Merridale FuelWorks service, Kevin Davies is impressed with the improved functionality.
“In particular when updating the fleet database, which is a regular task, it’s much easier now to add or remove vehicles from the system. Information is now readily available, whereas previously, there was just one access point which had to be shared with other departments, such as finance, for example. Now anyone from different disciplines can pull up a report against specific requirements relative to fuel usage and costing.
“I have four different reports every week, scheduled to transport operations. These include a bypass report, which shows me all the transactions for the master key fob rather than the fob allocated to the vehicle. We can use this report to reallocate the fuel to the correct vehicle.
“With previous set up, the availability of information was restricted to different staff members. The finance people used to run their own reports, to get the distance travelled and amount of fuel used. Tank contents information was based on manual dips and gauge readings which had to be entered into the system. The information is a crucial input to balance the records by reconciling fuel purchased against stock levels and fuel usage. This function is now carried out automatically and I can set a low-level alert for re-ordering.
In particular when updating the fleet database, which is a regular task, it’s much easier now to add or remove vehicles from the system. Information is now readily available, whereas previously, there was just one access point which had to be shared with other departments, such as finance, for example. Now anyone from different disciplines can pull up a report against specific requirements relative to fuel usage and costing.
Kevin’s opposite number at Lichfield, transport operations manager Jamie Hoole, is also a Merridale fan. Jamie had been recruited specifically for the newly opened distribution centre. Whilst all the decisions had been taken re the fuelling point at Lichfield, Jamie was more than happy to see that the Merridale FuelWorks service had already been implemented.
Jamie Hoole had moved to Wincanton from a large food distribution group which also uses the Merridale fuel management system. Moreover, Jamie had also been instrumental in making the switch over from the dial up version to the web-based service but in this case for his previous employer. “When I arrived at Lichfield, for me it was brilliant,” he said, adding.
“Because I was already familiar with Merridale, the induction training was just a formality, a quick update on the reporting information and I was able to crack on – it is so easy and straightforward to use.”
Fuel usage at Lichfield has not reached a settled amount as the operation is still in transition as work transfers across from Stafford. All the transport department team managers have been trained to use the Merridale system. They are logged in to it all the time, so they can see when the fuel stock is getting low. Orders for replenishment can be put through taking into account current usage rate and a delivery lead time of five days, after the order is placed.
Jamie Hoole continues. “For me the upgrade to FuelWorks was a big step forward. We have complete visibility of the status of fuel stocks, the fuelling transactions and current usage rates. There was no dial-up, everything is clearly presented on the dash board screen.
“Having a set contract within the Wincanton group for fuel supplies makes life a bit easier because we can accept fuel deliveries at any time in cooperation with our supplier,” he said.
“From our perspective in transport, costs are a massive side of things. We will go after any means of making this more efficient. When you can physically pinpoint your actual fuel consumption and see what each vehicle uses it’s a massive help. Anything that helps us to manage costs, manage fuel economy performance will be important.