Skip to main content


Tag: Fuel Management

Using Technology to Reduce Engine Idle

In the U.S., roughly 3 billion gallons of diesel fuel and gasoline are consumed each year by idling engines on medium- and heavy-duty trucks, according to Argonne National Laboratory ( So, improving fuel economy – and thus lowering fuel expenses – without sacrificing performance is a must for utility fleets that often have to idle assets during working hours. 

UFP recently reached out to industry experts to gain some deeper insight about this issue and discover possible idling solutions for utility fleet operations.

A Changing Landscape
For a long time, technology selections for medium-duty trucks were very limited, according to George Survant, senior director of fleet relations for NTEA – The Association for the Work Truck Industry (

But that’s changing. And while many fleets take a driver-behavior-based approach to idle reduction, one advantage of an equipment-based solution is that the change typically is good for the life of the equipment, said Survant, who also spent more than 25 years as a telecom fleet manager.

“We, as fleet operators, are becoming more sophisticated in our acceptance of new technology and sensitive to the need for better solutions,” he said. “Consequently, the market is producing more viable solutions that are made for an increasing number of applications.”

In Survant’s experience, each of the segments of a fleet may require different types of solutions to reduce idling based on vehicle type/mission. Idle reduction technologies for medium-duty trucks include air heaters, coolant heaters, waste-heat recovery systems and battery/auxiliary power systems, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (

“For vehicles with extreme temperature swings – high or low or both – cab heating and cooling from stored energy may be a legitimate tool,” he said. “Stored energy solutions also may work for high-PTO-use equipment. With some of the new OEM products, where the manufacturer is increasing torque and horsepower with smaller displacement engines, a careful review of the legacy truck specification may reveal impressive opportunity for improvement.”

Additionally, Survant said some of the best opportunities for idle reduction come from vehicles built with stop-start technology. He noted that the “technology can be unsettling to the driver until they learn to trust the equipment’s restart capabilities, along with understanding the slightly different driving technique needed to take advantage of these capabilities.”

It is important to recognize that while some vehicles may share a basic description and upfit, not all of them will necessarily benefit from an idle mitigation strategy. For instance, “Think of an aerial unit that could use stored energy for PTO operations but does not deploy the aerial unit often enough to justify the cost of the mitigation strategy,” Survant explained.

Realizing Benefits
Washington-based Clark Public Utilities wanted to provide its fleet exceptionally reliable equipment, reduce its dependency on fuel and lower transportation emissions – in that order, said Paul Chamberlain, fleet services manager for CPU.

The company sought a solution that would not impede upon the work required of the equipment, but that would provide operators access to heat and air conditioning, offer programmable features, be cost-effective, and have the capability of managing numerous inputs and outputs.

Of CPU’s 265-unit fleet, 29 over-the-road vehicles have been upfitted with idle management systems. The company is currently using two different systems: GRIP Idle Management System by Canadian Extreme Climate Systems ( for light- and medium-duty equipment, and Zone Technologies’ OZONE TECH ( for heavy-duty equipment. According to Chamberlain, CPU prioritized integration of idle management systems onto equipment that exhibited high levels of idling as well as high levels of mechanical failures due to idling.

The idle reduction module is designed to start and stop the engine within a controlled set of programmability values and ambient temperature. It can be integrated into both gas and diesel engine applications within the electrical system of any vehicle.

The results? “We are averaging about a 25 percent reduction within the trucks upfitted with idle management, with a fleet average of about 15 percent overall,” Chamberlain said. “Not all of it has been as the result of technology, but has been a combination of technology and employees making an effort to shut their vehicles off when they do not need to idle.”

Where to Start
If you’re wondering where to begin with an idle reduction strategy for your fleet, first and foremost, be clear about what you are trying to achieve.

“It is imperative to know what you need and are expecting from an idle management system,” Chamberlain said. “There are vendors more than willing to work with you toward a solution that will meet your needs.”  

Survant shared similar advice: “Weigh the existing fleet performance and forecast the amount of improvement potential to the units you are upgrading to the new technology. Some segments of your fleet may only get a 2 to 3 percent reduction in fuel burned, but when evaluated against the cost of the mitigation strategy, even what appears to be a modest improvement has the potential to provide a solid return on your investment.”

Good techniques for addressing fleet engine idling include identifying the idle characteristics of your fleet by vehicle type, understanding the root cause of the high-idle conditions you need to address and finding good technology-to-mission matches to deploy anti-idle strategies.

“As more and more equipment goes into service with idle mitigation technology, every gain becomes a permanent improvement in your operation into the fleet’s future for the life of the new technology,” Survant said.

About the Author: Grace Suizo has been covering the automotive fleet industry since 2007. She spent six years as an editor for five fleet publications and has written more than 100 articles geared toward both commercial and public sector fleets.

The Gas-or-Diesel Decision Gets Complicated

Which engine – gasoline or diesel – is best for light-duty vehicles? The age-old answer is, of course, it depends. It depends on annual mileage, fuel economy, purchase price, expected lifespan, fuel costs, maintenance and more; a whole assortment of considerations specific to the fleet. 

Those considerations still drive the fleet’s decision tree, but recent advancements in the engines, oils, fuels, maintenance support and even onboard performance data have given fleet buyers more means to find the best power choice. 

Take lifespan, for example. Advancements in equipment durability and manufacturing processes combined with higher-quality fuel and oil are pushing out the average lifespans of gasoline engines, said George Survant, senior director of fleet relations for NTEA – The Association for the Work Truck Industry ( and a former utility fleet executive. 

“Ten, even five years ago, fleets would turn in their gasoline-powered truck at about seven years and 70,000 miles,” Survant said. “Now, I wouldn’t consider turning it in under 150,000 miles.”

Fuel economy is another example. The newer non-hybrid gasoline engines with single or dual turbos, less weight and multispeed (6-, 8- and 10-speed) transmissions have narrowed the traditional fuel economy gap with diesels, with some spark-ignition units getting ratings of 18 mpg in the city and 22 on the highway. Power ratings are up, too. Ford’s 2017 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost rates a beefy 470 pound-feet of torque.

King of the Hill
That’s good news for fleets partial to gasoline, but diesels are still king of the hill when it comes to fuel economy and durability. Ram’s 1500 HFE powered by the 3-liter V-6 EcoDiesel offers 21 city/29 highway mpg ratings, while Chevrolet’s quarter-ton Colorado with a 2.8-liter 4-cylinder Duramax diesel comes in at 22 city/30 highway. Also, diesels still will give a fleet upward of a quarter-million miles, and with their entrance into the light-duty pickup sector, they’re giving fleet managers new options for durability, power and towing capacity unknown just a few years ago. 

Diesel fuel still costs more per gallon than gasoline, but the overall drop in fuel and oil prices has made that either/or decision less of a factor than in the past. Further, unlike their medium- and heavy-duty brothers, light-duty diesels use the simpler, less expensive cooled exhaust gas recirculation process to control emissions. 

Yes, diesels still come with a price premium over standard gasoline engines, but so do the newer eco engines. Ford’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost will add almost $2,600 to the MSRP over the company’s standard V-6, depending on specs.

Even with diesel’s benefits in those areas, it generally continues to be plagued by its history as a power plant that required more service, smelled and was more expensive, Survant noted. “Despite the improvements manufacturers have made in the engines and emissions, some fleets still opt for gasoline power plants because they believe diesels would leave the public with a poor impression of the company,” he said. 

Not only do today’s utility fleet managers have many more engine options than they did just a few years ago, they also have access to more operational data to help them make the gasoline-or-diesel decision. Whether, or how, they use that information is critical to getting the best value out of their engine choice, Survant said. 

“We’re seeing a lot better use of data in fleet decisions than even five years ago,” he said. “For example, fleets are using data to look at the lifetime cost of their power plants instead of simply pricing fleet purchases based on annual mileage. There’s a growing recognition that the ability to make decisions based on data is a skill for fleet leaders. As more and more people come into those roles with those skills, that will separate good fleets and well-run fleets from everyone else.” 

About the Author: Jim Galligan has been covering the commercial truck transportation sector for more than 30 years and has extensive experience covering the utility fleet market. In addition to writing and editing for magazines, his background also includes writing for daily newspapers, trade associations and corporations.


Buyer Trends Shifting Gasoline, Diesel Shares
Gasoline and diesel engines shares in light-duty commercial trucks appear to be shifting as gasoline engine use grows in Class 4, while the availability of diesels in quarter- and half-ton pickups may boost that power plant’s share in Class 1 commercial vehicles, according to data from IHS Markit ( for Utility Fleet Professional. 

Diesel use in Class 1C is practically nil and still lost ground last year. New commercial vehicle registrations fell to 6,535 units in 2016 from just over 23,000 in 2014. However, with both Ram and General Motors (Chevrolet/GMC) now offering diesels in their light-duty pickups, and Ford’s announcement that it would offer a diesel in the 2018 F-150, those Class 1 diesel numbers may grow significantly. 

In Class 4, gasoline’s share of new vehicle registrations jumped nearly 44 percent in 2016 from 2015 to account for 70 percent of that market. The growth likely was due to the latest offerings of more powerful and economical engines. Diesel sales dropped about 11 percent, and flexible fuel engine sales fell approximately 12 percent, according to IHS Markit.

Web Galligan Table


Utility Fleets Increasing Efficiencies
More than half of the utility/telecom fleets responding to a recent survey are changing their vehicle specs in an effort to improve fuel economy or reduce vehicle utilization, according to NTEA – The Association for the Work Truck Industry. 

In its “2017 Fleet Purchasing Outlook,” NTEA said 56 percent of utility/telecom fleets responded in the affirmative when asked if they were receptive to changing conventional truck specs to achieve greater efficiencies. 

The four most common fuel-saving strategies employed by fleets across multiple sectors (construction, delivery/cartage, government/municipal, utility/telecom and other) were driver training and monitoring, telematics and route optimization, improved aerodynamics and truck systems electrification, NTEA said. 

NTEA surveyed 200 fleet executives, of which about 15 percent were from utility/telecom fleets.


Getting Utility Fleet Drivers to Embrace Idle Reduction

Regardless of how cutting-edge a type of technology may seem, getting buy-in from prospective users often requires a pragmatic approach: They need to be convinced it works.

Such is the case with anti-idling technology. Today’s tools – aimed at reducing emissions and wasted fuel – include automatic shut-off systems, real-time alerts and plug-in hybrid vehicles that allow systems to work when the engine is off. But the only way utility fleet operators will fully embrace such tools, experts say, is when they grasp the difference that can be made, in terms of both the environment and their organization’s financial bottom line.

“It’s very spotty,” said Linda Gaines, transportation system analyst at Argonne National Laboratory ( and a recognized idling authority. “You’ll go to some meetings and talk to some fleets, and they’re on board. It’s like your job is done, and the information is all out there. A lot of states have regulations, and it seems like we’ve made a lot of headway. And then you go and visit some company and see how far there still is to go.”

Gaines referenced one organization that is interested in idle reduction and went through the process of installing telematics, but, she said, was still “absolutely shocked by how much idling their trucks were actually doing. I think that’s not an unusual occurrence. Just by sharing that information with the drivers, without any kind of threat or any kind of reward, either way, just by being aware, the drivers reduced their idling by some very significant fraction.” That fraction was near 30 percent.

Raising Awareness
Neil Holladay, regional fleet manager with NPL (, an infrastructure construction company that specializes in utility construction services, said that in 2014, he and his sustainability committee co-chair were individually working on issues related to fuel and carbon footprint. When it came time for a presentation, they discovered they had both identified idling as the biggest threat – and opportunity. With a fleet of roughly 3,500 assets, the company was wasting more than $1.5 million in fuel annually due to idling. They discussed whether the best tactic would be to create an awareness campaign or write a policy; awareness won out.

“We put a campaign together that was pure saturation,” Holladay said. They shared data about the effects of idling at every turn, created no-idling areas and gave away $25 gift cards for success stories.

“It was like advertising: When you hear something for the 10th time, you’re sick of it,” he said. “But it’s OK for people to frown upon it or even poke fun. It will still catch someone’s eye. And when [it does], it’s going to be effective. You just can’t get discouraged. It takes a little time.”

Within a couple of months, NPL’s idling had dropped a few percentage points. A few months after that, “we were seeing a large 10 percent drop,” Holladay said. And within the first year, the company had saved more than 1 million pounds in carbon dioxide emissions and just over $188,000 in fuel costs.

Perhaps the best part is that many of the company’s fleet operators are outdoorsmen and parents, and they connected with the idea of environmental stewardship for future generations. But it did take changing thinking about the way things had always been done.

The Lowest-Hanging Fruit
When it comes to getting drivers to change their mindset about idle reduction, concrete numbers certainly help. So, too, does the proper equipment. Odyne Systems ( is a leading manufacturer of hybrid systems for medium- and heavy-duty work trucks, and Matt Jarmuz, director of sales, sees such solutions as the lowest-hanging fruit in improving fuel efficiency and reducing emissions. In addition to powering, say, strobe lights and cabin comfort, Odyne’s large battery packs also can handle hydraulics and export power. And even while vehicles are in motion, the plug-in hybrid solution improves efficiency. As of press time, the company has placed roughly 300 vehicles in about 60 different fleets.

Jarmuz also is a strong proponent of telematics use and has seen fleets that, for example, have a system that sends an automatic email to a fleet manager when a truck idles for more than five minutes. Other fleets work from a more prevention-oriented coaching approach.

With hybrid technology, operators won’t feel that stopping idling is about “taking things away,” Jarmuz said.

But even without it, framing idle reduction as a gain – one that lowers fuel expenditures and contributes to reduced maintenance costs, greater asset reliability and longer vehicle service life – rather than a loss may well be the key to acceptance and implementation within your fleet.

About the Author: Fiona Soltes is a longtime freelance writer based just outside Nashville, Tenn. Her regular clients represent a variety of sectors, including fleet, engineering, technology, logistics, business services, disaster preparedness and material handling. Prior to her freelance career, Soltes spent seven years as a staff writer for The Tennessean, a daily newspaper serving Nashville and the surrounding area.

Photo: GPS Insight


Idling by the Numbers
• Idling of heavy-duty and light-duty vehicles combined wastes an estimated 6 billion gallons of fuel each year.
• Many still believe that restarting a vehicle burns more fuel than letting it idle, but idling for 10 seconds wastes more fuel than a restart.
• Personal vehicles produce roughly 30 million tons of carbon dioxide every year due to idling. Eliminating the unnecessary idling of personal vehicles would be the equivalent of taking 5 million vehicles off the roads.
• Numerous states have enacted fines for unnecessary idling, including Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Vermont and Hawaii, and parts of California, Colorado, New York, Ohio and Utah, among others. A list of state and local regulations is available at


Alternative Fuel Options for Fleets

Fleet fueling today is primarily done using gasoline and diesel fuels, which are derived from crude oil and emit carbon dioxide as a byproduct of combustion. For every gallon of gasoline burned, 20 pounds of carbon dioxide are emitted into the air. Diesel emits 22 pounds of carbon dioxide, and propane, the third-most popular world fuel, generates 13 pounds of carbon dioxide. Methane – the primary component of compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) – generates a little less than propane, approximately 12 pounds per gallon equivalent.

Until recently, CNG, LNG and propane were more expensive than gasoline and diesel. However, shale gas reserves from the Marcellus, Bakken and Eagle Ford deposits – along with new extraction and fracturing methods – have given the U.S. and Canada the world’s largest natural gas reserves, making the cost of natural gas half the cost of diesel fuel. With this benefit, we can develop strategies to build the cost-effective infrastructure necessary to economically deliver to end users the methane fuels, including CNG and LNG, that will allow us to reduce our dependency on petroleum-based fuels as well as reduce our carbon dioxide emissions.

Conversion Costs and Other Considerations
Converting one diesel engine to use natural gas will cost an estimated $20,000 to $30,000. With lower fuel costs than a gasoline or diesel engine, the financial investment can be recovered in two to three years or 175,000 miles.

The added costs are a product of the spark plug ignition and related vehicle fuel storage and delivery systems necessary to upfit the vehicle’s diesel engine so it burns methane fuel. The emissions systems on EPA-compliant diesel engines (i.e., diesel oxidation catalyst, diesel particulate filter and related system components) are not needed when using methane fuel. However, the exhaust gas recirculation system will be retained and the CNG and LNG engine will comply with the 2002, 2007 and 2010 EPA environmental standards.

Dimethyl ether, a variation of methane, provides a fuel for the diesel engine that does not require a spark plug ignition. Large-capacity truck engines can be fitted with high-pressure direct injection, which uses a small amount of diesel fuel to increase the combustion temperature so the methane will fire in a compression ignition cycle – no spark plug needed. At the present time, smaller diesel engines, in order to be converted to methane (CNG) use, need spark plug systems to operate. LNG currently is a better application for long-haul, heavy-duty Class 8 tractors and vocational trucks.

Off-road diesel-powered units require Tier 4 systems, and buses and trucks require diesel oxidation catalysts and diesel particulate filters. Methane systems eliminate the need for these components and their costs because methane fuel burns cleaner and does not need the exhaust filtration to remain EPA compliant.

When considering a conversion, also think about working with a manufacturer that can supply you with a new alternative fuel vehicle for warranty coverage purposes. It is not desirable for you to convert your present gasoline or diesel engine to an alternative fuel vehicle if you want to preserve your warranty. Additionally, you want to be sure that the conversion is efficient and your expected life cycle is kept intact.

Choosing a Fuel Option
What is necessary to decide on infrastructure to support your alternative fuel choice? If methane gas is available in the street at your facility, you can plan on the installation of a CNG fueling station. Street pressure is around 250+/- psi, and you need to have a compressor plus cooling and filter equipment to bring the methane up to 3600 psi to dispense it into your CNG-equipped vehicle. Dispensing does not require any specialized fueler protective equipment. An estimated cost for a CNG station for a 50-vehicle transit bus and/or vocational truck fleet is $2 million to $3 million. The cost for a 100- to 150-vehicle transit bus and/or vocational truck fleet is an estimated $3 million to $5 million.

LNG or propane is an alternative if you do not have methane in the street. Special dispensing equipment is necessary for LNG since storage temperature is around -270 degrees Fahrenheit, and asbestos gloves and an asbestos apron along with a face mask also are needed due to the low temperature. This protective equipment is required for the protection of the fueler in case of a leak. If you are interested in using propane, do your research to see if it can be trucked into your facility.

Some simple alternative fuel options are biodiesel and ethanol. Biodiesel is a quantity of used or virgin vegetable oil. The desired vehicle and engine manufacturer-approved mix is 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent diesel fuel. For ethanol, the desired mix is 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline. More than 10 percent ethanol is corrosive and requires stainless steel components. These alternatives can easily be included in our present infrastructure, but do not reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere.

Vehicles choosing CNG and LNG are restricted in their range of travel because of the lack of infrastructure. These fuels are best used in vehicles and equipment that start from and return to their original domiciles. The same is true with electric vehicles; their travel range is restricted based on charging station availability, plus the batteries are not durable, are very expensive and need greater capacity.

Another decision is whether to engineer vehicles and equipment for a dedicated fuel or to equip them with a dual fuel application, which allows a greater range of operation. Dedicated fuel units offer more economical and green control to management to maximize their strategic and tactical goals and objectives, recovering their conversion costs sooner. Units with centralized fueling keep operating activities simple, offering greater control of unit performance, route dedication, training, maintenance and repairs, and maximum availability for maximum utilization.

Maintenance and Repairs
CNG, LNG and propane vehicles and equipment need regular maintenance and also will need repairs from time to time. Vehicles and equipment usually are serviced in facilities such as garages. Other than biodiesel and ethanol, alternative fuels require facility safety upgrades and modifications to protect the service professionals and support staff who diagnose, maintain and repair alternative fuel vehicles and equipment.

Garages in the southern region of the U.S. have the option of servicing vehicles outside under covered work bays, which allows venting of methane, propane, and hydrogen fumes and vapors. Due to the climate, garages in the northern region of North America don’t have this option. Even if you can work outside, it is much better to service vehicles and equipment indoors because it provides a controlled climate, as well as greater safety and a more productive environment for the service personnel. It’s important to remember, however, that working on CNG, LNG, electric, hybrid and propane vehicles and equipment requires the measurement and ventilation of their fumes and vapors.

Regulatory agencies and insurance companies identify codes that need to be adhered to in the construction of alternative fuel-friendly garages. The fire department is king in these circumstances. Consider the following example of methane leakage. Since the flammable range of methane is 5 percent to 15 percent methane and 85 percent to 95 percent air, fire departments and the National Fire Protection Association recommend that 20 percent of the lower flammability limit be measured for staff protection. The lower flammability limit of methane is 5 percent, so 20 percent of the lower flammability limit is 1 percent methane to be measured. The facility must be equipped with explosion-proof fans to be energized when the lower flammability limit is reached. Similar measurements of electric vehicle batteries’ hydrogen emissions, hybrid batteries, hydrogen from fuel cells and propane all fall under regulatory agency supervision for facility and personnel safety and are integral parts of alternative fuel technology and implementation into your fleet.

Fire drills should be held at the garage on a regular basis. If you have gasoline and diesel vehicles, all windows, doors and exhaust equipment must be closed to smother the fire by withholding oxygen. The alternative fuel strategy is to open all doors and windows to release the fumes. These different strategies require staff training to ensure employees know the difference between audio and visual strobe configuration alarms and warning system alerts. Proper training will enable staff to act appropriately during an emergency, including safely exiting the facility and reporting to the correct gathering stations for attendance purposes.

Recent Popularity
Why are alternative fuels now getting so much attention? North America wants to reduce its dependence on foreign fuels and petroleum products. With the world demanding more fuels through foreign oil, competition for a controlled supply increases prices and restricts demands, resulting in the potential for a down economy. Additionally, greater use of oil increases pollution in the form of hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.

Alternative fuels like CNG, LNG and propane offer cost-effective, greener alternatives. And due to horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing in large shale fields located in the U.S. and Canada, natural gas volumes recently have dramatically increased. With this increased volume, prices have dropped so that the diesel gallon equivalent of natural gas has become available at less than half the cost of diesel fuel. As such, there is potential to significantly reduce our vehicle and equipment fuel costs and rapidly stimulate the economy by replacing diesel fuel with natural gas and even producing diesel fuel from natural gas.

CNG, LNG and propane are great alternative fuel options that can supplement and replace our immediate and future needs for gasoline and diesel fuel. LNG offers greater heat content and is more suited for over-the-road Class 8 tractor-trailers and vocational trucks. CNG is better suited for Class 1-7 diesel units, and propane fits Class 1-7 gasoline vehicles. These fuel choices are limited only by the construction of fuel stations; in order to realize their full potential, the country must create infrastructure to allow greater access to alternative fuels.

The availability of methane via North American shale deposits and the hydraulic fracturing process has put the region in a position to use CNG, LNG and propane as productive, cost-effective alternative fuels. Each of us needs to do our homework to see what is best for our specific needs. Analyze the cost of alternative fuels, look at the payback time frame, and make the decision that is best for your shops and your business as a whole.

About the Author: John Dolce is a fleet facility and maintenance specialist employed by Wendel Companies, an architectural and engineering firm. He is an active consultant, instructor and fleet manager with more than 40 years of experience in the public and private sector. Dolce has written three fleet-related textbooks and teaches fleet management courses at the University of Wisconsin’s Milwaukee and Madison campuses.

More Than a Fill-Up

Fuel is simply too expensive to ignore. It has been the No. 1 equipment-related cost item for years in most operations. For some fleets it has surpassed the cost of labor and become a fleet’s leading expense item. Combine this with costs associated with environmental regulations pertaining to fuel storage facilities, and it’s easy to see that management attention is highly desirable for any operation that has its own fueling facilities.

Outsourcing the Job
You can probably do the job completely in-house, but that’s a bit like doing your own taxes. You’re more than likely going to miss something, something that might cost you a lot of money because you might never know you missed it until it’s too late. Like the availability of tax consultants, there are people who offer services that provide greater control, with less effort and better results for environmental compliance than what one is likely to accomplish alone.

Veeder-Root is one such company. Gilbarco Veeder-Root Fuel Management Services and Solutions is described as a Web-enabled system that provides management control for environmental compliance and equipment uptime. “Our fuel management services program is targeted at the monitoring and management of fuel,” said Kent Reid, the company’s vice president of strategic development.

The program helps limit compliance risk while providing fuel supply system uptime through continuous monitoring and real-time analysis of data transmitted wirelessly for remote diagnosis and resolution of any problems. The company’s experienced specialists oversee data from state-of-the-art infrastructure that is remotely monitoring tens of thousands of sites around the world today.

“We have two levels regarding compliance,” Reid said. “Many of the requirements of federal regulations concerning underground fuel storage tanks can be met with the installation of an automatic tank gauge. This is a device that monitors the entire fuel supply system at a location. A basic service is to monitor the data from such systems, archive it and report it to the customer so that he can be assured he is in compliance. We, of course, provide guidance or warnings when compliance tests have not been completed successfully.”

Additional Options
There are also a number of alarms that can be generated by an automatic tank gauge system. If an alarm were to occur, Reid said, “At the customer’s option, we can simply provide notification that an alarm has occurred via email or text so that the customer can manage the situation and take care of the problem. Or we will manage those alarms for him, in which case we will provide troubleshooting, dispatch and then whatever action is necessary to make sure any problems are solved as quickly as possible.”

In conjunction with its Gilbarco and Gasboy brands, the company has the ability to connect directly with fuel pumps using electronic meter registers that read customer ID cards and bring that information into the system to report on vehicle mileage and fuel consumption. Such registers can be installed on mobile fueling equipment for on-site fueling and management control. More information is available at and

Go Green
Veeder-Root is not the only company offering wireless fueling data capture and analysis. E.J. Ward has a proven automated fuel management solution that integrates both hardware and software. The company has also developed a program designed to help fleets reduce their carbon footprints. Called Go Green, this program provides fleets with the resources needed to manage their green fleet initiatives through advance reporting, improved driver behavior and proactive maintenance scheduling, according to the company.

The Ward Go Green program includes equipment to track and monitor vehicle idling through which idling can be minimized. It also supports proactive preventive maintenance and notifies customers when vehicles are scheduled for or need maintenance. The Ward Go Green program includes technology capable of tracking driver behavior as well, which gives the fleet information necessary to determine if training is needed to improve driving habits.

The company has a team of green fleet specialists who are available to work with fleets interested in developing a customized solution to improve their vehicles’ environmental and operating performance. More information about the Go Green program and Ward’s automated fuel management solutions is available by visiting

About the Author: Tom Gelinas is a U.S. Army veteran who spent nearly a decade as a physicist before joining Irving-Cloud Publishing Co. While at Irving-Cloud, he worked in various editorial capacities for several trade publications including Fleet Equipment, Heavy Duty Equipment Maintenance and Transport Technology Today. Gelinas is a founding member of Truck Writers of North America, a professional association, and a contributing writer for Utility Fleet Professional.

Controlling Costs with Fuel Cards

Whether a gallon of fuel costs $4, $2 or somewhere in between, it’s most likely going to represent your largest equipment-related expense. Because of that, it only makes sense to do everything possible to control what is charged against fuel in your fleet. In times past, drivers, who would need to purchase fuel before returning to a controlled distribution location, were often given cash and told to bring in receipts to cover what was spent. Who could tell how many truck stop lunches were included in those receipts? Thankfully, those days are pretty much gone.

Leading the Way
Today, the use of fuel cards is a leading way for fleets of any size to control fuel costs. These work like charge cards for drivers, but limit transactions and report exactly what the charge is for, how much is charged and when the charge occurs. When a fleet enters into an agreement with a fuel card company, fleet management can decide exactly what can be purchased with the card. It can be limited to fuel only; include some maintenance items or a specific dollar amount for food or personal items on a daily or weekly basis; or even provide for an emergency cash advance. As Darry Stuart, president and CEO of DWS Fleet Management Services (, put it, “The use of a fuel card offers fleet management the ability to control any expense charged against that card. You can pretty much decide ahead of time just how many hot dogs a driver can charge for lunch.”

For example, WEX Inc. ( – the company formerly known as Wright Express that has been in the fuel card business for 30 years and continues to be a leader in the industry with almost 7 million of its cards being used by more than 350,000 business customers – offers a range of controls. One, which the company refers to as a hard control, may prohibit the purchase of fuel anytime on a Saturday or the purchase of any groceries. A soft control does not prevent a particular transaction, but it does trigger a real-time alert to notify the fleet manager of activity outside the stated policy. For instance, it would be unusual for a driver to need to fuel a vehicle three times in one day; however, there may be extenuating circumstances. The fleet manager would likely want to be notified of these transactions, but may not want to prevent them. “These exception-based controls allow customers to manage more efficiently,” said Bernie Kavanagh, WEX vice president of corporate payment solutions.

“What a driver can purchase with a WEX card will be set by the company’s fueling policy,” Kavanagh explained. “We have a product-type control through which we restrict what a driver can purchase. A manager can decide if a driver can purchase only fuel or have the ability to purchase other automotive fluids like DEF, oil, wiper fluid, etc., but not groceries or any heavy maintenance since the fleet probably has a maintenance program in place. The card allows the purchase of whatever the manager decides. Anything else will be declined.”

Fuel card companies normally capture transaction data in real time and make it available to fleet managers via secure websites. Summary reports are, of course, also available per a customer’s request. Such reports can be supplied via fax or online, and can include the card number, the vehicle unit number and its odometer reading, the driver’s name, the time and location where the purchase was made, and the price and amount of fuel purchased.

Fuel Card Savings
Some fuel cards come with a price discount at stations within their networks. These often take the form of the price indicated on the pump minus an agreed-upon amount or the price the fueling station pays for the fuel plus a small additional amount.

Such cards, however, commonly have a relatively restricted network, being accepted by as little as a few thousand locations compared to cards that charge pump price. WEX customers, for example, pay pump price, but know its drivers’ cards are accepted almost universally and that it will still receive any discounts it might have negotiated with fuel suppliers.

While fleets generally report that fuel cards offer an operating expense savings, it’s obviously important to understand what costs you will incur by using the service. Some card companies charge no transaction fees while others charge monthly fees. Some charge for reports; others don’t. If you’re considering the use of fuel cards, make sure you know about any fees you will incur and that your expected savings will cover them.

All fuel cards are not the same as some offer features more useful for particular operations. For example, some cards – in particular those intended for use by over-the-road operators – allow for cash advances for emergency purposes. Others are designed for local fleets that fuel from private facilities as well as retail locations, which is common for both utility and government operations.

About the Author: Tom Gelinas is a U.S. Army veteran who spent nearly a decade as a physicist before joining Irving-Cloud Publishing Company. While at Irving-Cloud, he worked in various editorial capacities for several trade publications including Fleet Equipment, Heavy Duty Equipment Maintenance and Transport Technology Today. Gelinas is a founding member of Truck Writers of North America, a professional association, and a contributing writer for Utility Fleet Professional.