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Taking fuel control

16 February 2012

Andrew Hargreaves, director of fuel storage equipment manufacturer Fuel Proof Ltd, discusses the benefits of storing and managing fuel in-house.

The continued threat of rising fuel costs combined with an increasingly competitive marketplace has led to many UK based companies and organisations investing in an in-house solution for their fuel storage requirements, in an effort to reduce costs and improve efficiency. With so much money being invested in modern fleet vehicles and fuel, the importance of fuel storage and management equipment cannot be overestimated. So what are the main advantages of this approach – and what are the important things to consider beforehand?

Although there are numerous solutions for keeping track of fuel purchased from filling stations, one of the main advantages of refuelling fleet vehicles on site is that fleet and driver fuel usage can be monitored more easily and quickly. Dispensing equipment can be linked directly to fuel management software, allowing fleet managers instant access to detailed information – a real advantage in such a competitive environment. Companies also benefit from having fail-safe, around-the-clock refuelling, which gives them more flexibility and peace of mind, and importantly can reduce refuelling during driver’s on-duty time.

Companies looking to install or improve their own fuel storage systems are, however, faced with some important decisions to ensure the solution they implement meets their own specific needs. Areas such as storage capacity, security, tank location and operator usability must be assessed to ensure that the customers individual requirements are met. Even though fleet vehicles and the fuel they run on are vital assets for any company, some make the mistake of cutting corners with the fuel storage and dispensing equipment which can prove costly long-term.

The ongoing fuel price rises mean fuel is effectively liquid gold, and therefore a growing target for criminals. A strong, double skinned tank constructed from steel throughout, with dispensing equipment and inlets and outlets kept secure, is essential for above-ground installations. In most cases the cost of filling a diesel tank will be significantly more than the cost of the equipment itself, which highlights the importance of making tank security a top priority. Plastic tanks, although a cheap alternative to steel tanks, do not provide adequate security for a commodity as valuable as fuel, and can be easily breached by fuel thieves. Steel tanks also tend to last longer and hold on to their value better than plastic tanks, giving the user peace of mind on their investment.

Specifying the right fuel dispensing equipment is another important decision: pumps must deliver high-flow rates and be reliable to reduce refuelling times and maintenance costs.

Unlike older diesel engines, the modern common rail diesel injection systems fitted to all new vehicles need to be better protected from contaminated fuel to prevent damage to expensive components. Fuel installations should include efficient and proven filtration equipment to remove both particulates and water – this small extra cost will help prevent unscheduled filter changes and reduce repair costs and vehicle downtime.

The storage equipment must be built in accordance with the PPG2 environmental regulations, which requires the tank to be 110% bunded, with all dispensing equipment, valves and other outlets situated inside the bund area.

In summary, companies that manage to satisfy all the above requirements can find that their refuelling setup becomes a key part of their business – this really is an area that should never be overlooked.

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