Lewes District Council has implemented a web-based fuel management service to help improve the efficiency of its fleet of refuse wagons and utility vehicles. The new Merridale diesel dispenser, now installed at the Newhaven transport depot, is backed up by an automatic stock control and fuel usage reporting service, provided by MIS Fuel Monitoring of Wolverhampton.

“Our focus is on customer service and we rely on the council’s transport facilities to deliver these services,” explains transport manager, Kevin Mansell. “With the help of modern technology we are continuously seeking ways in which to reduce waste and deliver these services more efficiently.

“Our new fuelling equipment has replaced manual records with Merridale FuelWorks, an electronic monitoring system that records fuel usage automatically and provides us the relevant operational information. This includes current stock status and usage reports, as and whenever they are required. It’s a computer system but with none of the hassle,” says Kevin.

“This is important, because we can’t afford to have someone just sitting at a desk to play with buttons and look at screens. We just want to know where the fuel is going, our current stock balance and any anomalies in respect of our usage.”

Previously the amount of fuel drawn by each vehicle has been recorded manually. This information had to be collated each month and submitted to the council’s accounts department, where it is balanced against the bulk fuel delivery receipts.

Kevin Mansell continues, “It was a simple enough system and it allowed the council to account for the amount of fuel being consumed across its fleet of refuse wagons, utility pick-ups, vans and lorries. But it was also time consuming, where we have people in the loop, inevitably there are going to be queries and omissions.

“This new investment enables this process to be carried out automatically and the amount of fuel consumed and the subsequent carbon footprint, can be allocated accurately to each of the different council departments.”

The decision to purchase the Merridale system was made after a thorough review, taking into account the equipment currently in use by other councils and the input from the council’s facilities support contractor.

“We asked three potential suppliers to submit quotations. Although price was important, our overriding priority was operational resilience. We wanted equipment with proven reliability and back up support. We looked into the company’s background, its experience and the resources that were in place to deal with any service issues. Our main concern was the overall lifetime cost of ownership, assuming good reliability.”

“After twelve months in operation, we are very confident of the quality of fuel usage reports provided by the Merridale system. We know that they are accurate because the system recognises every vehicle and someone has to input the vehicle mileage to authenticate the transaction.

“Fuel is a very expensive commodity, so absolute control of this resource is essential. Typically we have up to twenty vehicles drawing fuel every day and amounting to around 30,000 litres consumed by the fleet every month.

Kevin concludes by saying. “Another important aspect is the protection of our environment. As well as recording fuel usage, we are also in effect, monitoring CO2 emissions. This provides a benchmark for the procurement of new vehicles. Every drop of fuel used by the transport fleet is reconciled against the fuel delivered, so we are confident that there is zero waste and no possibility of any leakage from the storage tank.”