Single key for access, fuel monitoring and truck wash.
Cotteswold Dairy Ltd is a seamless farm gate-to-doorstep operation. It covers the entire supply chain from collection of the raw milk through quality compliance, then processing, packaging and distribution to the retail chain. In addition to milk, the company also produces cream and these lines are augmented by complementary products such as yogurts, butter fruit -juices, water, eggs, bread to add value and offer a total supply solution for customers in retail and catering outlets.
From its headquarters and main production facilities in Tewksbury, the company’s trading area covers a sweep of counties from the Cotswolds up to North Wales. Regional distribution centres are located Cheltenham, Shrewsbury and Colwyn Bay.
Cotteswold Dairy operates a fleet of 160 vehicles, comprising tankers and articulated trailer units. Around 80 vehicles are based in Tewksbury. With an annual bill of around £1.2 million, fuel oil is therefore one of the company’s largest single operating costs.
Keeping watch over these costs is a high priority and as the business continues to develop, the decision was taken to invest in a new depot fuelling point, to further improve efficiency.
[quote]We can look at mpg performance for the fleet and individual drivers. It provides all the costing information needed by the accounts department and it integrates with our fleet management system so that we can keep an eye on vehicle usage as well as mpg.[/quote]
“The investment included a larger multi product storage tank to increase capacity,” explains Cotteswold Dairy’s fleet manager, Fred Everiss.
The 106K litres tank has five compartments; the largest section being allocated to regular city diesel, with additional storage for biodiesel, adblue, engine oil and gas oil for depot vehicles and fork lift trucks.
“The biodiesel section is our contingency provision”, says Fred Everiss. “We expect this new tank to have an operational life of some 20 to 30 years. It is almost certain that we shall be seeing further developments in biodiesel in the future and we wanted a separate compartment for trials purposes. This also serves as auxiliary capacity, allowing greater flexibility as prices fluctuate or in the event of likely fuel shortages.”
Tracking fuel costs and operational efficiency is essential for a business which is based on such a finely tuned commodity as milk. So the other key improvement is the introduction of better management reporting tools allowing Fred Everiss to monitor vehicle economy performance very closely.
The tank and new dispensing facilities have been installed within a dedicated marshalling area which is fenced off from the rest of the site. Access to the site is by electric gates which are activated by a control box. This is operated by a dedicated smart key, which is also used to activate other facilities such as the truck wash.
In fact the keys can be programmed according to the drivers’ specific responsibility so for example a yard man would be able to use his key with different vehicles and it would record every time he activated the truck wash.
The Merridale system software developed by MIS Fuel Monitoring of Wolverhampton, provides a complete record for every vehicle from date and time it entered the yard together with the driver’s ID. A second key allocated to the vehicle is used to access the fuel dispensers. This turns on the respective pump for diesel, engine oil or adblue. The driver then completes the transaction by entering the vehicle odometer mileage reading. As well as capturing the data, the Merridale FuelFX software provides the tools required for the analysis and preparation of fuel and other wetstock usage reports.
Fred Everiss is impressed with the functionality of the Merridale software when compared to the fuel usage software used previously.
“It is much easier to use,” says Fred, adding. It wasn’t complicated and it gives us very good reporting, and indeed more reports than we had before.
“We can look at mpg performance for the fleet and individual drivers. It provides all the costing information needed by the accounts department and it integrates with our fleet management system so that we can keep an eye on vehicle usage as well as mpg.
“We are using the software to evaluate how different engine size and gear box configurations impact efficiency over different journeys and traffic conditions. And this helps us to make better informed decisions on the procurement of new vehicles.”
The monitoring of individual drivers has led also to some friendly rivalry between the better drivers. Other colleagues have become more aware and are now asking for help to improve their driving style to achieve more efficient fuel economy performance.