Merridale, provider of fuel management systems, explains why careful inspection and maintenance of a workshop or fleet’s fuelling facilities can prevent a business from haemorrhaging money.
“Next to wages, fuel consumption is the largest overhead expense for all transport operators,” said Merridale Sales Director, Stephen Hannan. “We can all relate to the well-known management adage – if you can’t measure it, you can’t control it.”
Installing top quality refuelling equipment with all the necessary stock management tools in place is a good start. But if the fleet operator is really serious about fuel management, then it is important to ensure that the facilities are inspected and calibrated at routine intervals, in order to ensure continuity and total operational resilience. In other words, the implementation of regular inspection and calibration procedures are imperative to ensure not only 100% availability of fuel, but also the accuracy of the data used for cost accounting and the management of vehicle performance.
Regular inspection supports the requirements for documentation for ISO certification and DSEAR operational risk assessments. This is important to demonstrate that the operators’ depot facilities – the storage tanks and dispensing facilities – have all been checked annually. This helps with obtaining insurance because the underwriters can see evidence that the owners of the property have taken steps to assess and minimise any risks associated with the storage of inflammable products. In the event of a claim, the insurance company will ask for some form of documentation to assure them that the installation has been inspected by a qualified third-party organisation.
Apart from the reassurance of having regular service checks, there are also more logical benefits to keeping the equipment well-tuned. Best practice will safeguard against any equipment failure and the knock-on consequences of having to make alternative arrangements for fuelling, such as potential damage to your customer service reputation.
Accuracy and regular calibration checks are also important to the monitoring and reporting structures. The purpose of monitoring is to understand where you stand with fuel usage. The system needs to be well-tuned so that it can be used for measuring a specific vehicle’s mpg performance. This becomes crucial for equipment trials and for providing the data needed to support driver training, as well as other statistics concerning the overall use of fuel.
A Merridale system will tell you exactly what you have put into a vehicle tank and how efficiently the fuel is being used. However, this information is meaningless if the pumps were not calibrated accurately. Maintenance checks are a good habit to get into for this exact reason.
Regular, general maintenance checks can spot potential storage tank and pipeline issues such as internal (bund) leaks that can only be detected through accurate instrumentation. Some cases are more obvious such as worn hoses, failed displays or damaged nozzles. Other problems may be less obvious and are only likely to be spotted by an experienced service technician.