5 ways technology can offer stronger protection against the risk of rising diesel prices
Celadon uses an automated system, Fuel&Route by Manhattan Associates, to send drivers the optimal least-cost route plan with every dispatch. Drivers are given fuel stops, gallon amounts and specific mile markers to enter and exit from toll roads.
Through its fuel card program, the company authorizes purchases for the specific locations and gallon amounts established by Fuel&Route. Drivers also receive cash advances to pay for the pre-approved tolls as calculated by ALK’s PC Miler software.
The lockdown has saved the company millions, says Mike Gabbei, chief information officer. Fuel compliance has increased from 30 percent to virtually 100 percent. Toll cost compliance is automated by reimbursing drivers only for pre-approved amounts from toll receipts.
But one area that Celadon and most fleets have not locked down completely is fuel theft. Despite today’s technology, it still is possible for less-than-honest drivers to siphon or sell fuel at truckstops without getting caught. While those losses are minimal compared to the gallons burned from idling, going out-of-route and deadheading, the risk cannot be ignored when prices are more than $4 per gallon.
“Trucking companies hate to issue cards.”
– Ken Patton,
vice president of merchant sales, Comdata
The following new technologies make it possible to control fuel spend more tightly and eliminate the possibility of theft.
1. True mpg
Detecting fuel theft can be difficult even for experienced analysts. Virtually any fuel card program and a mobile computing and communications system can capture the vehicle’s “physical” mpg with gallons purchased and odometer readings.
Electronic Control Modules (ECMs) base their own mpg calculations on actual fuel consumption, but a sudden decrease of electronic mpg between fuel events is just a warning sign, not hard evidence of theft.
To get the truth, physical mpg must be compared to electronic mpg. The two measures inherently can differ by 5 to 10 percent; this variance comes from how ECMs report mpg, and it differs by engine manufacturer, year and model.
A Fuel Auditor feature in Blue Tree Systems’ R:Com wireless fleet management system compares the amount of fuel burned by each truck to the amount of fuel purchased. Through R:Com’s Web-based interface, fleet managers can import fuel purchase data from electronic fuel cards, onsite pumps or paper receipts. Discrepancies are highlighted, and users can drill down to determine the exact time window and location of the discrepancy.
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