Managing every last drop of fuel

Back in September 2011, Fuel Oil News editor Jane Hughes visited Heathrow Airport to learn more about the airside fuel operation at Airport Energy. In May, a return visit was made to learn about a new telematics system developed by AE Telematics
“We’ve had a very good couple of years,” said executive chairman Phil Wright. “The reconstruction of Terminal 2 (opened last month), certainly gave an excellent boost to fuel sales.”
Airport Energy fuels over 7000 vehicles and pieces of equipment that are essential to the smooth running of the airport. Fuel is not the only commodity that this company supplies.
“With fuel being the biggest cost in running any vehicle or piece of equipment, everyone’s desperate for data to help them better manage both costs and fleets more effectively,” explained Phil. “With today’s technology just about anything can be measured and we can now provide our customers with a complete fuel management solution to include a fuel, servicing and tracking record.”
Adding telematics
The company has recently added a third tier to its well-tried and tested automated vehicle recognition system (AVR) fuel management system offering. Already benefiting from complete control and security over fuel usage and more effective fleet management, the company’s customers can now access fleet telematics.
“Back in 2000, Heathrow’s suppliers had surprisingly little knowledge or control of fuel usage and costs. The introduction of a fuel management system was a revelation to many with each additional piece of information introduced since being very well received,” explained Phil.
“We trialed our new telematics system with our 11 drivers and also with British Airways, with endless insights into individual vehicle and driver performance, it was found to be a no brainer. Using telematics shows where driver training can save money.
“The technology being used stems from Formula 1 racing where the fine tuning of a vehicle coupled with the performance of the driver is paramount to its success,” said technical engineer Ian Breckon when explaining the telematics system.
“Our aim is for customers not to waste a single drop of fuel. We want to maximise vehicle utilisation around the airport; by April 2015 every vehicle will have a tracker enabling every movement/incident to be tracked via a sensor.
Dependant on the detail required, standard or customised reporting is available. This covers items such as fuel usage, speed, harsh braking and turning, CO2 and NoX emissions – as environmental legislation steps up a gear, NoX emissions from transport are becoming the focus of attention.
“We don’t want to bombard the user with endless data so it’s possible to select and condense information into focused reports,” said Ian. “From information received users can then make informed decisions relating to relative cost effectiveness as vehicles and equipment age, using it to compare the performance of different makes/models.
“Warnings about excess speed can be set up; if the speed limit is exceeded an email or sms can be sent within 20 seconds. The aim of this data is to educate and improve the bottom line, not to punish. If desired, a reward system can be set up for drivers/operators.
“The integration of fuel usage data from our fully automated refueling system together with vehicle tracking data provides a unique total vehicle and fleet package in one place, giving complete control with easy access to all the data,” added Ian.
Airport accolade
Heathrow Airport has 1,500 suppliers; Airport Energy is now a top 55 strategic supplier.
“High standards are demanded by the airport authority so this is a real accolade,” said Phil. “From our origins as a specialised fuel supplier we’ve developed the business to provide a total fuel and vehicle management package.
As a strategic supplier the company participates in quarterly meetings with the airside director responsible for procurement. The meetings review the supplier’s contract performance, innovation, KPIs and successes.
Branching out
Having had considerable success with its fuel management system in the airport arena, the company took a stand at this year’s CV Show, to raise awareness of the system with a wider audience.
“It was good to dip our toe in the water at such a big show,” said Phil. “Because everyone wants to measure business performance, telematics is definitely flavour of the month and we had a lot of interest.”
Not standing still
Heathrow, the UK’s only hub airport, sees 70% of the UK’s air traffic activity. At the time of visiting, plans for the airport’s further development had just been published. Whilst there will be continued development of terminals there is currently less construction activity.
“Heathrow is in desperate need of a third runway,” said Phil. “But, this is a political football at the moment, and only time will tell if this is ever going to happen.
“Whilst Airport Energy will continue its long term contractual arrangements with the airport, there will be many challenges in the meantime, Phil said. “It’s essential to continually look at new areas, you cannot simply stand still.”
On 2nd August 2015, Phil will celebrate 50 years in the fuel industry, it is very clear that time has not dimmed his enthusiasm for the industry.