Although retail standard pumps have been around for several years, there is still some confusion among fleet managers, councils and other commercial vehicle operators, in regard to the definition of an approved installation.
Merridale development director, Paul Ledbury describes the role of depot fuelling facilities and the regulations covering the certification of retail diesel dispensing equipment.
Fully approved retail pumps are mandatory for any company that intends to supply fuel to a third party. This applies to any situation involving the creation of a VAT invoice for fuel sold from a storage tank, using data-capture from the pumps meter reading. If any associated monitoring equipment and software is utilised to compile this data, this too must be approved.
Approved pumps and management systems allow greater flexibility to transport operations working in partnership with third parties or sub contractors. The amount of fuel drawn, by whom and when, is recorded automatically. The information from verified equipment is not only reassuring for purchasers that the amount of fuel for which they have been invoiced is in fact correct, but it is also conclusive evidence, should the owner of the installation need to prosecute for theft or misrepresentation.
Essentially any design of pump and management system used for retail dispensing must be certified by National Weights and Measures. Where components from different manufacturers, are used, then a joint certificate must be in force covering the system operation.
But the certificate alone is not sufficient. After installation and before it is used, the equipment must also be checked, approved and stamped by the appropriate County Trading Standards office.
Apart from meeting the legal requirements, there are a number of operational requirements that need to be taken in the design of the fuelling equipment. Ideally we must ensure that fuel can only be obtained by authorised users together with some means of authentication of the vehicle that has drawn the fuel and possibly identifying the driver (or administrator) operating the pump.
Clearly an approved system will provide irrefutable evidence of the fuelling transaction, giving a high level of confidence in the administration and eliminating time wasted pursing account queries.
Equipment now being supplied by Merridale is certified by National Weights and Measures and can be set up and commissioned ready for local Trading Standards to apply their seals.
Fuel is restricted to authorised users who are in possession of a unique pass device, which may be in the form of a magnetic stripe card ( Including Agency Card options). Other methods include Datatags or the well proven smart Datakey which incorporates read/write capabilities.
These devices can be assigned to either the vehicle or the drivers and will be identified to the fuelling system software. PIN numbers can also be used with these devices to add another factor for authentication and security.
Some systems are capable of accepting odometer (or hours run) entries which will then be verified by the system to ensure that the data meets strict parameters of accuracy.
Having captured the details of each fuelling transaction, the data can be analysed and presented in various formats to suit different operational requirements. These may include immediate performance reports or graphical charts, comparing actual to fleet averages so that any anomalies can be spotted very quickly.