In the December issue, fuel oil news covered the subject of tank top up services. Whilst concerns were raised about the reliability of some products, Melanie Noel, WP Group’s fuel sales manager commented: “Although there have been a few issues with older systems, mainly the battery, new telemetry has improved.”
In this issue we take a closer look at available telemetry – its features, benefits and reliability.
Never out of reach
“Dunraven Systems’ Apollo RMS remote tank monitoring system is already the telemetry system of choice for many distributors,” says managing director, Gerry Jones. RMS allows distributors to remotely monitor customers’ tanks without leaving their depot. “Wherever and whatever the tank, we’ve got a reliable and affordable way for distributors to remotely monitor it. Even when a tank may be out of range, with Apollo RMS, it need never be out of reach,” adds Gerry.
Whilst some systems are dependent upon access to mobile communication networks to relay consumer data to the distributor, Apollo is different, argues Gerry. “We recognise, a significant number of tanks still remain beyond the reach of mobile networks – especially in rural areas, where oil is more prevalent. Therefore, we offer customers a choice of communication technologies including analogue, broadband, GPRS and GSM technologies, all of which can be integrated into the Apollo RMS system.”
The company also places a strong emphasis upon ‘backward compatibility’. “There are over a million Apollo products already installed worldwide and from a distributor’s perspective, it’s reassuring to know that Apollo RMS isn’t just compatible with the very latest Apollo hardware… it’s also compatible with the very first hardware we ever produced too,” says Gerry.
Peace of mind
“The SmartGuard fuel tank gauge and alarm system is ideally suited to help distributors manage their top up customers,” says Steve Richardson, director, Fuel and LPG Services.
“The system constantly measures fuel levels and sends data back every two days. Gauge reliability is critical; a top up customer running out is a situation none of us want. This is why the system has a 5-year warranty,” he added.
Having managed a customer top up service for many years, Steve is fully aware of the issues distributors face. “As the costs of running a tanker become more expensive, it’s important that we use them as efficiently as possible, delivering more and driving less. Therefore, rather than taking an educated guess at what the customer requires, the SmartGuard enables you to accurately predict the volumes required.
“The SmartGuard has been developed using technology from other industries. Battery life, in particular, is managed and the components are more robust than many others out there.”
Following a recent trial, the entire customer base at Three Counties Fuels now uses the system. Managing director, Pauline Newcombe said: “The Smartguard is a powerful customer retention tool. It enables us to stage deliveries throughout the entire year reducing seasonal peaks and troughs, and gives customers’ peace of mind that their tanks are alarmed against theft, and will never run out.”
Kingspan Environmental’s SonicSignalman is a one-part device that uses the latest ultrasonic and GSM technology to remotely monitor oil levels.
The device has an SMS facility, enabling distributors to send updates to their customers about promotions, planned delivery runs, offers on other oil related products etc. These messages can be broadcast to all customers or sent to those in specific locations. The information can be used to improve logistics management, reducing the number of wasted deliveries and spreading periods of peak demand.
Additionally, customers will have access to a consumer services portal, bespoke to their distributor, where they can purchase a wide range of services including theft alerts and an iPhone app.
Data to save you money
Powelectrics design and manufacture remote monitoring solutions. “As consumption can vary it’s hard for distributors to predict when a tank needs a top up and every trip to a customer costs money. Before the use of telemetry, 86% of deliveries were inefficient. The use of remote tank level monitoring has increased the average amount of product delivered to a customer per visit by 34%,” says sales director, Dave Oakes.
“The cost savings are significant and of course there’s a dramatic reduction in CO2 emissions, but the benefits don’t stop there. Users can integrate the data into their computing systems and interface with sales order processing and routing/planning software.”
“To ensure our solutions are very reliable, devices have been designed to work with different types of sensors,” adds Dave. “In heating oil tanks we would recommend a submersible pressure sensor with compensation for changes in atmospheric pressure.
“Our units are manufactured using the latest pick and place automated systems, with components being placed to within 30 um. This leads to exceptional reliability and is supported by innovative power management technology that maximises battery life and signal strength, ensuring communication is as efficient as possible. The use of multi-network sim cards further enhances communications reliability, especially when devices are deployed in rural locations.”