Automated fueling pumps up fleet management
A blend of hardware and software is currently helping fleet managers reduce overall expenses for vehicle fueling, operation, and maintenance. For instance, the City of Detroits Public Works Department, which operates a fleet of 4,500 vehicles, along with five garages and 13 fueling sites, recently implemented two fleet- and fuel-management solutions from Maximus, based in Reston, VA. To automate fuel dispensing and track transactions, the City installed FuelFocus, a combination of hardware and software that manages fuel and fluids such as gasoline, propane, glycol, and lubricants. In addition, FleetFocus software, which captures and analyzes costs associated with owning and operating vehicle fleets, was integrated with the automated fueling system. The combined solution documents information to help fleet managers track and reduce costs, plus links with the citys finance and purchasing system to streamline data entry. We were looking for a single vendor that provided both fuel management and fleet maintenance systems in a single solution, says James Jackson, director of public works for the City of Detroit. We are now realizing significant savings in fuel and maintenance costs and improved reporting and preventive maintenance scheduling, which will translate into a safer and better-maintained fleet. To automate and track fuel dispensing, FuelFocus hardware includes Island Control Units (ICUs) that work as stand-alone devices or link with central processors. The ICUs dispense fuel to authorized drivers or vehicles via a choice of technologies, such as magnetic-strip cards, bar codes, proximity keys, or keypad input. By using FuelFocus, fleet managers can reduce fuel consumption costs, receive timely data about fuel transactions, and monitor fuel-storage tanks and pumps for environmental safety. FleetFocus software comes in various modules, including Windows-based versions. The software integrates fleet functions such as equipment acquisitions, work-order administration, inventory control for vehicle parts, and preventive maintenance. Companion equipment lets mechanics scan bar-coded work orders to track repair time and charge automotive parts for vehicle maintenance. The software also generates a range of reports, according to users selected criteria.