This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Fuel Management newsletter and associated website www.fuelmanagement.co.uk. Over a full decade, we have reported on new developments and the methods used to support fleet operators’ fuel control, together with case studies demonstrating the effectiveness of each solution. Further to this we have provided fleet operators with essential information and updates regarding the operational regulations. Topics covered have included the ability to resell fuel under trading standards and, more recently, the implications of the re-classification of diesel as a “flammable” product.

Whilst fuel management was already well established by 2008, the initial emphasis was on drivers’ performance and route planning efficiencies. Measuring vehicle fuel consumption accurately was seen primarily as a depot function, using data taken on refuelling and recording the distance travelled between refuelling, from tank to tank.

With the need for ever greater fuel efficiency at both depot and nationally, Fuel Management has also reported on a number of developments that have contributed significantly to ensuring that fleet operators are in full control.

These include the development of read/write proximity datatags, and a direct vehicle recognition system (Merridale vLink). We have also looked at improved methods of obtaining the vehicle odometer information automatically. This latter development offers either the possibility of using Merridale Transponders for reliable wireless transfer of data from the vehicle to the fuel management system, or, more recently, by retrieving vehicle odometer information directly from the servers employed by vehicle telematics and tracking systems.

Perhaps the most significant development over the last 10 years has been the introduction of web-based reporting. Designed to complement the already successful Merridale FuelFX client-based reporting, the Merridale FuelWorks web-based system offers a more flexible and adaptable way of disseminating fuel data to everyone who needs to know, and take action on, the information. The way that upgrades are applied to the FuelWorks package and the deployment of web-based reporting, helps to build a closer partnership between the fleet operator and Merridale, assisting operators to drive down fuel costs.

There have also been significant developments in the area of electronic tank gauging systems. Ten years ago the measurement of the contents of a storage tank was still being carried out manually. This was carried out either by physically checking the contents using a dip stick, or by taking readings from pump-up pneumatic or fairly basic electrical contents gauges. This information had to be entered manually into the fuel management software to enable stock reconciliation.

By 2008, Merridale had developed a tank management system directly interfaced to the fuel management system to complete this automatically, something which has now become the industry accepted practice. This has been enhanced further with the introduction of an alarms package for overfill, leakage and unexpected depletion (theft or failure).

The re-classification of diesel as a flammable product has generated even further concerns and Fuel Management has assisted operators in pointing out the need to undertake risk assessment studies of their facilities.  Merridale has contributed by ensuring that fleet operators can purchase equipment safe in the knowledge that all new equipment is either certified or compliant to ATEX standards.

The Fuel Management newsletter is a demonstration of how Merridale has committed itself to helping the transportation business to be more competitive by adopting proactive fleet fuel cost management policies. Larger organisations with multiple depots are now using Merridale technology to centralise fuel administration and take full advantage of their purchasing power and economies of scale.