Fuel is the most significant on cost for alltransport operators. As the business grows,so does the fuel bill and its potential toimpact on profitability.If there is space for a storage tank on thepremises, then there will be a case forpurchasing bulk supplies, comments Stephen Hannan from Merridale.

• You can negotiate discount prices andsave on time wasted, as well as risksinvolved in using card accounts withretail filling stations.

• Apart from being more convenient, youcan also show this as a positive measureto reduce fuel consumption and thereforeharmful CO2 emissions within theneighbourhood.

• Having a reserve stock of fuel alsoprovides a degree of resilience shouldthere be any disruption to the nationalsupply chain.Having made the decision to install a dieselstorage tank, the fleet manager's immediateconcerns will be security, fuel usage andstock control.

There are strict environmentalregulations concerning the storage of oil, sothe first point of call should be a qualifiedinstallation supplier. As well as a suitable selfbunded tank, this should also be equippedwith alarms to prevent overfilling andinstrumentation for leak monitoring.An integrated fuel management systemprovides this facility by reconciling fuel stockagainst usage. Together with electroniccontents measurements this provides acontinual check on the integrity of the tank.Depending on usage and the size of the fleetthen other considerations such as dataanalysis and reports will come into play.

Fuel management software is used to recordhow much fuel is put into each vehicle andhow this relates to costs incurred against aparticular project or customer account. Theinformation from the pump monitor isrelayed to the back office computer. Onlyauthorised staff with designated vehicle/product keys can access the fuel, therebyeliminating opportunities for theft andabuse.

Wetstock contents are monitoredelectronically. The overall process involvesdata collection and communications and as asystem, this can be scaled up, enablingmultiple depots to be managed centrally.Every fuelling transaction is validated andthe system records fuel drawn and vehiclemileage. The data can be processed to createreports which can be customised to meet therequirements of different departments -depot managers ' fleet managers ' contractsadministrators and finance.