Cover Story: Pump Talk

Look who’s talking now... the gas pump?

“For those vehicles that either don’t have a diagnostic computer or have one that doesn’t chime in with our system, we need a source to update the mileage,” says VandenBrook. “In some of these vehicles we’ve had to use another E.J. Ward product that, believe it or not, ties into the vehicle’s radio in order to tie directly into the odometer.”

Other potentially crippling bugs are being addressed such as what to do if a vehicle can’t take on fuel as a result of a hardware malfunction. For instances such as this, the City has installed keypads at each of the fueling sites that will allow for a supervisor to override the system, using a personalized code, and allow users to get fuel with out tying into the network.

“We know that operators will be getting fuel from the stations in smaller quantities, such as in small cans, that obviously won’t be able to interact with the system,” VandenBrook notes. “For this we’ve got the supervisor override system that allows these transactions to take place. Plus, if any problems occur while we’re transitioning to the new system, or if we have any hardware failures, we’ll be able to ensure the vehicles are still getting fueled when they need.”

The system will also have the option of expanding into other areas of vehicle monitoring. “The biggest costs associated with fleet maintenance are typically fuel and tires,” Featherston says. “We are looking at ways to monitor tires and tire pressure through our systems as well.”

Whether or not the City of Madison opts to invest in that advance in technology, VandenBrook is convinced that the investment in this kind of system has been a significant step forward for his fleet.

“The biggest benefit is the ease of use for our operators,” he explains. “For them it’s a no-brainer. The data collection is as good as any system I’ve seen. It’s definitely typical leading-edge technology.”

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