Fuel management systems
Fuel management systems are designed to effectively measure and manage the use of fuel within the transportation and construction industries. They are typically used for fleets of vehicles, including railway vehicles and aircraft, as well as any vehicle that requires fuel to operate. They employ various methods and technologies to monitor and track fuel inventories, fuel purchases and fuel dispensed. This information can be then stored in computerized systems and reports generated with data to inform management practices. Online fuel management is provided through the use of web portals to provide detailed fueling data, usually vis a vis the back end of an automated fuel management system. This enables consumption control, cost analysis and tax accounting for fuel purchases.
There are several types of fuel management systems. Card-based fuel management systems typically track fuel transactions based on a fueling credit card and the associated driver PIN. Reports can then be generated based on fuel consumption by driver, and data can be directly downloaded. On-site fuel management systems may employ fleet refueling services or bulk fuel tanks at the site. Fuel is tracked as it is pumped into vehicles, and on-site storage levels can be managed.
Some fuel companies offer total fuel management systems whereby they provide elements of a card-based system along with on-site fuel delivery and refueling services. Mobile fuel management refers to a fleet of fuel trucks or tankers which provide fuel supply to commercial fleets of trucks or construction equipment. May involve combining RFID technology to identify equipment and automated fuel management to append the details of each transaction to a unique piece of equipment. By refueling vehicles in the evening when they are not in use, the company can conserve man-hours as the operators do not refuel and the vehicles do not require additional fuel to travel to the refueling station. They may also employ more sophisticated systems that utilize remote data collection to gather specific technical information about the vehicle usage and performance characteristics such as mileage, hours of operation and engine idling time.
The increasing use of biofuel has introduced another challenge in fuel management. With greater water content, there will be a risk of microbial growth – depending on the storage conditions, the fuel quality will deteriorate over time, leading to clogged filters and loss of productivity.
Tank manufacturers have introduced fuel filtering and cleansing packs which recirculate the tank contents through a series of filters and ultra-violet treatment to kill bacteria. Data from fuel quality instrumentation can be streamed to allow remote monitoring over Internet connections.
There have been, to date, five recognizable generations of fuel management system:
First generation : A padlock for security and a clipboard and pencil for recording the fuelling.
Second generation : A self-contained, microprocessor-controlled fuel island control system which has an ID reader (key, card, RFID etc.) to identify the vehicle and driver, a means of controlling a pump, a means of measuring the fuel delivered, and usually, a means of reporting fuel drawn by vehicle. The fleet list is usually input using an integral keypad.
Third generation : A fuel island control system similar to a second-generation system, which is either periodically, or permanently connected to a PC which is used to report on the fuellings and input the fleet information.
Fourth generation : The fuel island controller is fully connected directly to a central Internet based server which is updated in real time. All fleet information and transactions are held on the central server. Connection is made from the fuel island to the server using GPRS, or can use the operators own network using a Wi-Fi or Cabled Network Link. Continuous Internet connection can not be guaranteed and hence any fourth-generation system must have a fall-back white/black list, usually built in real time from previous authorisations.
The principal advantages of a real time system are that site operation can be monitored in real time, stock figures are always current, and, with integrated tank gauging, fuel theft from tanks and short deliveries can be identified immediately.
Fifth generation : The successful deployment of fourth generation web-based systems has paved the way for the development of the Automatic Dissemination of Data and Reports, enabling scheduled reports and more intelligent supervisory functions.
Administrators can set up the delivery of vehicle fuel usage reports to key personnel by e-mail as and whenever required - on a daily, weekly or monthly basis - without any further intervention. Additionally the service will feed data automatically for alarm status’ such as low stock.
This additional functionality is a significant step up from fourth generation services in which the administrator has to use a gateway to access and then manipulate the desired reports to be downloaded. Or alternatively the information is simply provided as published ‘fixed’ reports on a set timescale, and without the up-to-date access being available.
The principal advantages of a web-based system are that information is easily made available to all interested parties, allowing all to run reports and investigate issues. Data is viewable not only by the user, but by support staff, so that any issues are resolved quickly with a phone call. There are no compatibility issues with software as only a web browser is required to view data. Software may be centrally updated to the advantage of all.
Fuel oil management system (FOMS) is a recent development in the field of electric power by which the fuel oil level in any power plant or any industry can be monitored and controlled using programmable logic controller and supervisory control and data acquisition. TrackME Guam! Fleet and Fuel Management system is a great example of software.
- Lange, H.B., (et al.) (1992). "Development of fuel oil management system software: Phase 1, Tank management module". Retrieved 22 February 2014.
- Hohn, Geoffrey M. (2011). Computerized Fuel Management System for a Foss Tugboat. University of Washington. pp. 146 pages.
- Aircraft Fuel Systems - Roy Langton, Chuck Clark, Martin Hewitt, Lonnie Richards
- Advanced Avionics Handbook