Sophisticated crime, determined and intrepid crooks and forecourt pump jockeys scheming ways and means to steal your fuel is widely acknowledged by the experience gained by oil companies and financial service providers with established fuel cards and automated fuel management systems.
Consider the steps taken by oil majors to deliver clean and secure products by introducing sealed parcel deliveries in tankers with secured manhole covers, sophisticated metering and minimum driver involvement. As the price of liquid fuels rises and transport tariffs remain thin, black market fuel is in demand , even large quantities are easily handled.
With this in mind, now is a good time to review, assess, evaluate and update your fuel management policies, procedures and controls. Tighten up the loose ends, this especially so if this has been done for the past two or more years.
Purchasing Fuel , Shop for the best deal. The major oil companies are competitive and are keen to add value to the product and services they offer. Where home base refuelling is used, negotiate for decent, modern dispensers. Give consideration to sealed parcel deliveries to ensure contamination and tamper free supplies.
Storage , Underground tanks have a limited life and need to be cleaned on a scheduled basis to keep the fuel free of algae, water, other contaminations and leaks. Where large storage capacity is needed, give consideration to installing tank gauging to keep control over inventory levels and stock controls as well as monitoring contamination.
Dispensing , Meters should be calibrated periodically. Secure dispensers to ensure there is no fiddling with the meters. Where possible, refuelling should be scheduled to minimise congestion at the home base. Include company cars, bakkies and other vehicles. Employ a responsible person to oversee dispensing procedures.
Where on road filling is allowed, make sure the filling stations regularly used have cleaned their underground tanks and calibrated their dispensers. Use as few filling stations as is practical, where possible allow on road filling only during normal business hours.
Ensure overhead storage tanks that are frequently used on construction sites and on farms are properly secured, free from dirt and water. Keep the nozzle clean and free from soil and other contaminants. When exposed to the heat of the day, overhead storage tanks should not be filled to the brim. Leave some space for ullage. All liquid petroleum fuels expand when they are heated. When there is no space to accommodate the expansion, tanks can and do overflow.
All tanks; underground, on the ground and those on-board vehicles must be fitted with decent anti-siphon devices. When automated fuel management systems have been installed, carry out regular checks to ensure the ring around the truck tank’s neck has not been loosened to allow “side filling’.
Fuel Management Controls , When fuel cards are the preferred method of control, switch to the recently introduced fuel “chip’ cards. These offer more protection against fraud , see the article under “Tips’. Wherever possible, restrict the number of cards to one per vehicle. Cards can be configured to provide driver ID and other pertinent information such as the frequency and quantity of refills.
The latest automated fuel management systems are cardless, contactless and cashless , probably the most secure systems available in South Africa. Whichever system is used, make sure the periodic reports are complete and accurate. Review and assess the data to gain control over driver abuse and poor driving skills, excess and unwanted kilometres. Ride your routes once or twice a year. Study your tracking data to establish where vehicles are frequently delayed and other aspects relevant to better fuel-efficiency.
Last but not least, are the matters of vehicle replacement and vehicle selection. Vehicles not properly chosen for a specific transport task and those that have not been timeously replaced are likely to be fuel guzzlers and expensive to maintain. Don’t keep vehicles so long that you pay for them a second time over the parts counter. Simple basic discipline is the name of the transport game. Regular daily checks provide early warnings of things that can be avoided. Management, especially of drivers, must be seen to be done. Once a year conduct a comprehensive “audit’ of all your transport policies, plans and procedures to sustain ongoing cost improvements.
Shell Oil and West Bank Fleet division have launched the SmartFleet + Chip card to combat forecourt fraud. User defined pre-validated and authorised transactions are permitted. The card generates real time alerts and a single card can be linked to multiple drivers. A modest once off charge is made when cards are issued. The system is presently being rolled out to 300 core sites. A closer look at the details may well be worth it.
The diesel price breaks the R10 a litre barrier for the first time as the November price reaches nearly 28 per cent more than it was in January. Interlinks covering 200 000 kilometres a year now spend nearly R1 200 000 a year on fuel or 45% of operating costs excluding overheads and tolls. The latest fuel price increase sees fuel costs as a percentage of running costs at more than 60% for each of the three examples regardless of the annual kilometres. The average price for the 11 months since January is R9.02 a litre.