|Title:||United States survey percentages of trucking executives regarding precautions they have taken against fuel theft in 2012|
|Source:||Commercial Carrier Journal|
Start of full article - but without data
FUEL FOR THOUGHT
Most fleets have suspected fuel theft and take precautions
In the March Randall-Reilly MarketPulse survey, trucking executives
were asked about fuel theft in their operations. The majority said
they have suspected it was happening and that they have systems in
place to detect it; also, more than half have caught a driver using
a company fuel card to steal fuel.
HAVE YOU EVER SUSPECTED FUEL THEFT IN YOUR OPERATION?
NO XX.X% YES XX.X%
DO YOU HAVE ANY SYSTEMS CURRENTLY IN PLACE TO DETECT FUEL THEFT?
NO XX.X% YES XX.X% HAVE YOU EVER CAUGHT A DRIVER STEALING FUEL BY USiNG A COMPANY FUEL CARD?
NO XX.X% YES XX.X%
ARE YOU CONSIDERING ANY NEW TECHNOLOGIES TO LIMIT EXPOSURE
TO FUEL THEFT?
NO XX.X% YES XX.X%
Note: Table made from pie chart.
Tnrwo years ago, the Celadon Group went on "lockdown mode" for fuel and toll costs, and drivers for the X,XXX-truck Indianapolis-based company now have no choice but to comply.
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 XX percent to virtually XXX 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 $X per gallon.
The following new technologies make it possible to control fuel spend more tightly and eliminate the possibility of theft.
X. TRUE MPG etecting 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 X to XX 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.
Fuel Auditor also constantly monitors the tank level of vehicles to detect all fuel fills and extractions and maps the location of the fuel level change event. Tank level data is available from vehicles built since 2007 on the JXXXX databus.
Vusion, a data analytics and integration division of PeopleNet, created a model to capture and analyze a range of data from dispatch systems, electronic engines, equipment profiles, mobile computers and fuel card programs. Vusion uses this model and statistical analysis to normalize mpg and isolate variance due to theft.
However, fuel theft remains difficult to detect when done infrequently and in small quantities, such as XX gallons or less. "Generally, what we're seeing for theft is relatively isolated occurrences involving less than X percent of the drivers," says Tom Fansler, president of Vusion. "Where more widespread theft issues exist, these have involved company personnel outside the driver pool."
Vusion provides monthly fuel reports that pinpoint events where theft likely occurred and also offers realtime alerting. The company-can monitor tank level data captured from a vehicle's JXXXX databus through PeopleNet's mobile computing platform.
When a driver pulls up to a pump, PeopleNet captures tank levels when the ignition is off. When the driver completes the fueling, PeopleNet reports a second tank level when the ignition is turned back on. Vusion captures both events to match the fuel purchase to the available tank capacity. The system sends an alert if a portion of the purchase was not delivered to the truck's tank.
X. CARDLESS FUELING
An unscrupulous company driver pulls up to a pump at a truckstop, exits the vehicle, swipes his fuel card and enters a PIN, vehicle number and odometer reading. This information is sent to a fuel card provider, and the pump is authorized to dispense fuel according to the fleet's settings.
If the pump is authorized for XXX gallons, the driver could pump XXX gallons and pull forward without hanging up the pump. Another bargain-hunting driver would pull in behind and buy the remainder from the sneaky company driver for perhaps $XX at $X per gallon.
Major truckstop chains now have the technology to prevent this scenario, but will fleets pay to use it? The justification is more compelling than preventing theft; the technology also eliminates the expense and hassle of managing fuel cards, and fleets can capture accurate vehicle information at each fueling such as odometer readings, fuel consumption and engine diagnostics.
In late 2010, fleet fuel card provider Transportation Clearing House and Zonar, which provides fleet GPS tracking and electronic inspection systems, announced a fuel purchase security system called Z-Con that combines ultrasonic and infrared technologies with vehicle telematics to authorize fuel transactions. Z-Con, now available at XXX Pilot Flying J locations nationwide, is offered for a small upfront cost and a monthly fee per truck.
"As we looked at this technology, and how it might be used, fuel theft was probably the main driver that led us to this point," says Kevin Farnsworth, chief information officer of Electronic Funds Source, a company created by merging TCH and EFS Transportation Services in December 2011. "Fuel theft detection is just a small part of the entire set of functionality we can provide."
Z-Con has evolved from a theft prevention product into a management tool to help save time and fuel. A telematics unit installed in the vehicle makes it possible for Z-Con to capture fuel consumption and engine fault code information between fuel events. Z-Con soon will add tank level reporting to detect possible fuel theft events such as siphoning between fuel stops.
EFS also is developing a
Web-based application for Z-Con that will add new reporting features such as physical and electronic mpg comparisons. Carriers will be able to select from different packages; starting with the base functionality of cardless fuel authorizations, optional features will include reports for idle time, route compliance and fuel taxes, along with satellite tracking.
Comdata is marketing SmartQ, a cardless fueling system now being implemented at Love's Travel Stops and Travel Centers of America nationwide. "Trucking companies hate to issue cards," says Ken Patton, Comdata's vice president of merchant sales. "They view it as an expense and pain."
The SmartQ system consists of an antenna located above each lane on a fuel island. When the antenna-based system detects a vehicle's RFID card, the pump is authorized to fuel according to a fleet's purchase controls.
Some fleets also may want drivers to manually input information such as a PIN and odometer reading into the pump reader before authorizing fueling. As soon as the truck leaves, the pump is shut off. For fleets, the only cost is an inexpensive RFID tag that replaces a fuel card. Once the tag is fixed to a windshield, the RFID chip inside will tear when removed to prevent it from being used in a different vehicle.
QuikQ, the company that designed the SmartQ system, recently announced a serial connection option. The RFID chip will be able to transmit information such as a vehicle's VIN number and odometer reading at each fueling to eliminate data entry by the driver.
QuikQ's cardless fuel purchasing system, DF Connect, integrates with fleet transportation management systems to authorize fuel transactions. The system is designed for carriers to send fuel purchase orders to drivers automatically through mobile communications. The PO number can be authorized for specific locations and gallon amounts to match drivers' fuel and route plans.
X. CHASING DOWN SAVINGS