Installing depot fuelling equipment is a significant decision and most transport operators will want to analyse fully the overall cost and benefits to their business. For Paul Pinfold, national fleet manager of the Indesit Company, choosing Merridale fuel monitoring has proved to be a solid commercial investment.
After twelve years of reliable service he can look back with some satisfaction. Much of the equipment is still in daily service and apart from routine updates; the operating software has remained pretty well as standard.
“We did the analysis and justification of spending £30,000, which was the proposed capital expenditure for ten locations back in 1996. Our annual fuel bill at the time was around five million pounds a year and we estimated a life of around ten years, so that amounts to the cost of managing £50m worth of fuel. The aim was to capture and send all the fuelling transactions data to our central fleet office in Peterborough. At the time remote monitoring was relatively innovative and we were one of the first large own-fleet operators to install Merridale `Auditor’ readers across a network of `bulk-fuel’ sites.
[quote]The system continues to be an integral part of the way we account for our logistics fuel usage All the information we gather is shared with our various operations where it is used to manage the vehicle and drivers’ performance, as well as providing internal cost accounting information.[/quote]
More than twelve years later the Indesit Company continues to reap the rewards of its investment. “We would be lost without the system”, says Paul Pinfold, “Our original requirement for managing our fuel usage to every litre hasn’t changed and indeed it’s even more important today.”
The last decade has seen a number of changes to the Indesit Company distribution network as the group’s manufacturing has been rationalised and consequently, the number of UK hubs with depot fuelling has reduced.
Although the requirements have changed, the company still operates some 160 vehicles and the fuel bill still amounts to around three million pounds a year. The number of depots with bulk fuelling has been reduced and half of the fleet are now using agency cards for external fuelling.
“Details of external transactions are brought into the Merridale software, so it’s still a complete fuel management tool” explains Paul Pinfold.
“The system continues to be an integral part of the way we account for our logistics fuel usage All the information we gather is shared with our various operations where it is used to manage the vehicle and drivers’ performance, as well as providing internal cost accounting information.
Any anomalies are revealed quickly, enabling local managers to to identify key areas for improvements.. In cases where a particular vehicle is doing notably less miles per gallon than the norm we can see whether it is the way the vehicle is being driven, or maybe a service issue or possibly we are losing fuel somewhere. Vehicle manufacturers have told me that they are not aware of anyone capable of providing fuel information that is as accurate as the method we use with Merridale monitoring.”
The longest serving Merridale Auditor unit has been in use at the Grangemouth depot in Scotland for the past twelve years. Indesit’s most recent installation of the Merridale system was at the distribution centre in Raunds, Northamptonshire, which was built in 2001.
Commenting on the relationship that The Indesit Company has had with MIS Fuel Monitoring during this time, Paul Pinfold adds “The system is reliable and the software is good. If we have any problems or issues, we can ring MIS and they will be resolved. The times we have had to call are very few. We have never been put under any pressure from MIS to upgrade the system. We have to think that maybe in the next two or three years this system will need to be replaced, but nothing is telling me that at the moment.”