Vehicle Fuel Management

How to gain tighter control of fuel expenses


The closest of these proprietary fueling stations was two miles from the office where the company vehicles parked overnight, which meant a four-mile trip might be required just to begin the day. If vehicles needed fuel while in the field, they might have to drive up to 12 miles to find one of the fueling locations. If they could not find a station, the drivers would use personal credit cards and submit receipts for reimbursement.

Because the sites were fuel pumps only, the crews were then making additional trips to convenience stores to purchase drinks or snack items for the day.

The general manager was logging countless office hours reconciling paper gas receipts to track vehicle fueling frequency, the price of the fuel and miles per gallon.

The deal-breaker that initiated a search for a different fueling solution was that his current vendor was charging a surcharge of 20 cents per gallon over the retail price. With an average purchase of 1,700 gallons per month, the additional expense was adding up and a change had to be made.

The HVAC company turned to the Fuelman fleet fueling and maintenance purchasing program. Fuelman is accepted at more 600 fuel and maintenance merchants within the Phoenix area, including all Circle K locations, one of the more prominent convenience and fueling station brands in Arizona.

With several Fuelman locations around the corner from the company, its crews no longer have to start their day with a two-mile trip to fuel. Nor do they need to make an additional trip to a convenience store. The result: the crews get off to a more productive start and the company saves both time and money fueling.

Inside the office efficiencies have improved as well. The company now receives fueling reports and bills electronically. Plus, the system has self-serve account management.

FUELING OPTIONS

Aside from fueling vehicles at retail stations and other third-party facilities, a fleet can maintain its own fueling facilities or contract with a on-site fueling provider.

Fleets and shops with on-site storage tanks and fueling facilities need to be concerned with satisfying various legal requirements applicable to the storage and/or dispensing of regulated substances ­– gasoline, diesel, motor oil, etc., says Joel Hershey, director, Eclipse, a company providing creative underground storage tank (UST) and aboveground storage tank compliance solutions.

“The implementing bodies of these regulations range from federal to state and local,” he says. “Typically, state regulations are as or more stringent than federal regulations, and local or county regulations are as or more stringent than state. State or local regulations cannot be less stringent than federal.”

One major factor to consider when selecting between an AST and a UST is available space, says Hershey. An AST, depending on size, can take up a considerable amount of space on a piece of property. Having tanks underground frees up a significant amount of space that would otherwise be consumed by ASTs. With USTs, however, fill ports and other access manholes will still need to be made available at the ground level above the tanks.

Another something to consider when debating between ASTs and USTs is the size of tanks needed. “From a visual and aesthetic perspective, most people consider ASTs to be somewhat unsightly, whereas most UST systems make little to no visual impact from this perspective,” he observes.

The flipside to this is that USTs can be out of sight, out of mind, whereas AST are easy to perform visual inspections on, looking for problems and leaks.

Other factors to consider about potential tank locations are geologic and geographic features. Hershey says things like high water tables, wetlands, bedrock and public drinking water supplies may affect the ability to install USTs. Local law approval may also weigh heavily in deciding which type of tanks to install.

Both USTs and ASTs are subject to regulations concerning leak detection monitoring, compliance testing, tank inspections, maintenance and repairs and leak reporting and clean up, he explains. Leak detection is required to be conducted regularly, in the correct format to the tanks, with records of leak detection history maintained at the facility.

Regular compliance testing of fuel systems is also required, but the frequency and method is dependent on the specific tank, piping and equipment type, as well as location and regulating body.

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