For as long as fuel management systems have existed, fleet operators have wanted to know not just how much fuel they are putting into vehicles but also what the performance figures for each vehicle are. This information is vital to assess how efficiently fuel is being used and to test and measure efforts such as improved driver training, rerouting, vehicle maintenance and purchasing are having to reduce overall vehicle costs.
Whilst a quality fuel management system will accurately show how much fuel has been deposited in the vehicle, capturing information on the distance the vehicle has travelled is much harder without error. Traditionally it has been the responsibility of the person, usually the driver, to record and manually enter the vehicle odometer entry. This will naturally lead to incorrect results, whether they were entered intentionally or by accident.
Since entering the market in 1994, Merridale has been aware of this issue and introduced various measures to remedy these errors as technology advances. There are three distinct ways in which these issues have been addressed over the years:
Manual Entry using Merridale’s “iProve” method of verification
This feature has been available on all Merridale systems since the earliest model in the 90’s. It is based upon the fueller manually entering an odometer record that is validated and checked to ensure that the value entered is plausible.
Because the basic design of even the earliest Merridale systems was based upon using a ‘smart’ device to record vehicle identity, it has been possible to create a system using the Merridale-developed iProve (Individual Programmable Odometer Verification). This permits fleet operators to set and adjust a distance value for every vehicle across the fleet individually.
Essentially, the user-definable set-up may be configured to ensure that manual entries are not permitted that are lower than the previously entered value and do not exceed a maximum limit that is set up by the fleet operator individually for each vehicle. Coupled with a blocking system to ensure that drivers do not deliberately enter spurious values, the system is far more dependable than contemporary systems that either let fleet operators only set a common maximum distance over the entire fleet, or could not cope with the differences between miles, kilometres or hours run.
Some early systems from some of Merridale’s competitors allowed any value to be entered without verification. Drivers quickly became aware of this, and deliberate false readings were often entered to deceive the system.
Data capture from vehicle management systems
As technology permitted and engine management systems became more sophisticated, it was found that it could be possible for odometer information captured by these systems to be transferred to the fuel management system. It was also found that it was possible to measure distance travelled by the vehicle by having a readout from either hubometers or axles. All methods of data extraction involve having a device fitted onboard the vehicle and wired to the source of information.
Several methods of extracting and transmitting this information to the fuel management system have been developed by various fuel management companies over the years. These include transmitting data via modified nozzles using local proximity connection or by infra-red pairing, plug-in cable connection between vehicle and fuel management, and manual transfer of data using a portable data capture device.
Where Merridale have differed is that the transponder system, developed by Merridale and used reliably with several significant fleet operators, transferred this data wirelessly. This avoids the need for extensive pump nozzle and tank filler modification or the potential for deliberate miscapture that can be associated with handheld transfer devices.
Data capture from third party systems already fitted to the vehicle
As such systems became increasingly sought after, Merridale turned its attention to looking at third-party systems that would capture the vital odometer information needed to calculate performance figures. Some systems did this, and the data was held on the third-party servers.
Merridale found that if the third-party data capture system offered customers access to this data, in many instances Merridale’s system could record accurately how much fuel was put in the vehicle tanks and match this to odometer records recovered from the third-party server. Providing that the odometer readings captured by the third-party system were accurate, the figures generated would be far more accurate than when using systems that record fuel usage information using an algorithm of engine management. The Merridale system differed in that it looked at exactly how much fuel was placed in the vehicle.
Most existing Merridale systems can be upgraded to incorporate any of these methods without the need for replacement. Should you wish to discuss further how Merridale enhancements can improve your data, please contact the Merridale sales team on 01902 350700 or visit merridale.co.uk.