Fuel theft is a big issue at public works fueling stations across the country, the main reason being manual documentation of vehicle mileage and fuel consumption. Some employees take advantage of this “honor code” system to fuel their own personal vehicles or to fill up gas containers for personal use. In addition to theft, manual documentation doesn’t always accurately reflect fuel usage and vehicle mileage, which can throw off estimates for fleet fuel consumption as well as vehicle maintenance schedules.
Automated fuel management systems document both fuel usage and mileage more effectively, as well as prevent theft. There are varying levels of automation; highly automated systems are more effective but also more expensive, and may not fit into budgetary requirements. A practical option is to gradually incorporate automation into the fuel management process on a yearly basis in order to spread out costs over a more manageable time frame.
One popular method used to automate fueling is the use of an encoded key, card, or proximity ID badge. Operators use these devices to activate fuel dispensing. The keys can also be encoded with identification data that matches it to a particular vehicle or employee. This enables fuel usage and mileage to be tracked digitally, and allows management to set paramters specific to each vehicle based on fuel type and tank capacity which is traceable back to the person that initiated the transaction, thereby preventing theft.
In addition to accurately tracking fuel usage, automated fuel management systems allow for easy documentation of vehicle mileage. Managers can easily access this data and determine when a vehicle needs to be brought in for preventative maintenance. If the automated system includes OBDII connectivity the system can read the information programmed without requiring input at the fuel management console from the user. It can also access additional relevant data such as trouble codes, idling time, and other liquid levels such as oil, antifreeze, and diesel exhaust fluid.