Certas Energy is the largest fuel and lubricant distributor in Great Britain, with statistics to match.
- 2300 employees
- Over 33 million litres of fuel stock held in depots
- 100 depots
- 1000 retail sites
- Over 900 tankers
Having grown through several acquisitions over the last ten years, the company delivers in excess of 5 billion litres of fuel per year and prides itself on providing innovative alternatives to traditional fuel supply arrangements.
Certas Energy employs high standards of operation in order to meet the expectations of its customers but, after a number of acquisitions, drivers in the company that had come through a mixture of training procedures found it difficult to change and adapt to the standards set by Certas.
A business-critical solution
In 2014, Certas Energy saw the challenges as an opportunity to bring TouchStar in to improve several processes, most importantly ensuring compliance and boosting customer service. TouchStar’s ‘FuelStar’ on-board solutions enabled drivers to fill out the majority of their forms digitally, instantly reducing both the time spent on paperwork and the chances of mistakes being made.
The solution also brought additional benefits to Certas Energy and its drivers, from a built-in satellite navigation system to detailed delivery updates and task location tracking. The software’s Mapping Console matches the wealth of client and order information contained within FuelStar with GPS technology to provide accurate real-time data on the geographical positioning of vehicles and LOB (Load on Board) status enabling the optimisation of delivery processes. For example, ‘expected LOB’ data can be used to re-purpose the LOB to different deliveries.
The FuelStar application is integrated with the back-office software CODAS, supplied by CDS, creating a business-critical tool that adds significant benefit to Certas Energy’s daily operations.
Certas Energy has used the Windows CE platform (software and hardware) variant of ‘FuelStar’ for driver activity and process controls since 2015. Whilst Touchstar continues to support the FuelStar application and the mobile computing device (TS3000, Hawk), Microsoft has withdrawn support for the Windows CE platform. In common with many Touchstar clients, Certas Energy expressed a desire to undertake a technology swap out and upgrade to modern and futureproof replacement systems.
The upgraded solution includes a new in-cab driver application, FuelStar, running on the latest octo core processing, ATEX-rated, Android tablet the TS3300. The in-cab device interfaces to the new cloud-based FuelStar Back Office. The tablet continues to enhance the operational performance with added benefits such as 4G, on-board WIFI, integration with in-cab sound systems, meters and printers, real-time interface with CODAS and the ability to run other applications on the device.
The benefits of upgrading
Gordon Hyland, sales director for the Touchstar Fuel division, explains the benefit of migrating to Android: “The Android platform has given us the chance to increase the capabilities of our solutions, with improved workflows and communication, and customers are telling us that this has had a major impact on their digitisation journeys.
“Recognising that a ‘big bang’ approach to hardware upgrading would not be preferable for some of our customers, we have been careful to include the ability to run Android and Windows CE devices in parallel within the fleet. This means transition for Certas Energy can happen at a pace that suits their business.
“Importantly, FuelStar Android can be deployed with no change required to CODAS and related systems. Our new middleware system handles all the data and file transfers, in and out of back- office systems, so there is no impact to third party software providers. This means minimal disruption to the current working methods for drivers and negates the need for re-training.”
FuelStar Back Office is a cloud-based product. This offers a quick rollout capability, high system security and scalability and avoids costly and difficult local installations. Hosted on the Microsoft Azure platform, information is always available anywhere in the world. The system scales on demand with no wasted capacity, and disaster recovery options are robust, simple and inexpensive to implement. Using mobile services ‘push’ technology, only new and changed information is sent to and from the TS3300 devices, reducing connection time and data usage.
A true long-term partnership
The detailed solution was based on feedback and guidance from Chris La Banca, IT Business support manager, Stephan Birtwistle, CODAS Application & Systems manager, and Nathan Broad, IT director at Certas Energy as well as Touchstar’s experience of working with the company over many years.
Nathan Broad comments: “Thanks to TouchStar we are able to have more informed conversations, plan better and offer an improved service to our customers. The solution also guarantees compliance and gives us a greater degree of accuracy in our conversations with our sales team and of course our customers.
“We want to continue to grow and become ever more productive with our time. The new Android solution will help Certas Energy capture, move, and manage critical information, providing our organisation with the means to access real-time information anytime and anywhere enabling us to make faster and smarter business decisions”.