The latest step in the development of commercial fleet fuel management systems has been the introduction of alternative methods for obtaining vehicle mileage data.
Vehicle mileage is an essential input for calculating economy performance (mpg or L/100Km). The analysis can be based on any nominated period, such as weekly or monthly. Traditionally, this data has been obtained as a manual input, where drivers use a numerical key-pad to enter the vehicle odometer reading at the pump.
The Merridale software checks the input, using an iProve (Individual programmable odometer verification) function. Designed to protect the system against wildly erroneous inputs, iProve validates the data entry against the previous fuelling transaction for each vehicle. Users will be locked out, and admin alerted if persistent attempts are made to obtain fuel without providing an acceptable input.
To reduce the need for manual inputs, some fleet operators are asking for automatic vehicle mileage acquisition thus negating the requirement for drivers to manually enter a figure. This is possible, because for most current heavy goods vehicles, the odometer (mileage) reading is now readily available, electronically, from the engine management system or via the tracking system.
Currently there are three main methods of transferring this data to the pump control unit from the engine management system. These are either, a simple hand held device such as a data carrying tag/key or alternatively, a direct connection by inserting the pump nozzle into the vehicle using specialised data transference equipment. A third option, developed by Merridale, is a vehicle mounted transponder system that uses a wireless connection at the fuelling point.
A common factor to all of these methods however, is the need to purchase and install single function devices onto the vehicles and /or modify the pumps or the fuel management system to communicate and receive this data at the fuelling point.
Vehicle telematics and GPS tracking systems The development of vehicle telematics and GPS tracking systems has opened up another channel. Both of these services use multifunctional devices which are either linked to the vehicle management system or able to use GPS to calculate distance travelled. These options usually transmit data automatically through to a third-party server which can be set to include storage of either the current or a periodic record of the vehicle odometer mileage.
The Merridale FuelWorks service enables the integration of this data where the third party servers offer an API for Merridale to access, thereby removing the need for costly bespoke devices to be installed on the vehicles. Having been retrieved, the mileage data can be married to the fuel usage from the Merridale system for the calculation of the vehicle performance figures.
Merridale has obtained significant experience in setting up these interfaces, by working with the major suppliers of telematics or tracking systems’ servers.
The above service is possible for all new and existing Merridale users of FuelWorks software, subject to investigation and compatibility of the fleet operators chosen tracking system provider. Should any Merridale user wish to confirm if this is available already or could be available in the future, they are invited to discuss this with the Merridale sales team.