Descartes UK

Choosing the right fuel management hardware

Choosing the right fuel management hardware

Fuel is the driving force behind every business that relies on a fleet. With the cost of fuel being an ever-increasing concern for business owners, it is essential to have high-quality accurate fuel pumps and fuel management systems in place. This could not only help to cut down your fuel costs by giving you the vital data you will need to make changes but may also benefit the environment and help to eliminate the risk of fuel theft to your business.

The price of a product will always impact someone’s decision to purchase, but many other factors with fuel management systems should be considered. Of course, the mechanics of the fuel pump must be of the highest quality and the software used to report the data is the best around, but what about the hardware and components in-between that allow the pump and the software to work in harmony?

When assessing the quality, robustness, and reliability of your equipment, there are a few key points to consider.

How robust is the cabinet or housing?

Poorly constructed cabinets that are not adequately weather-protected may ultimately lead to system failure. A top-grade cabinet that has been properly constructed will offer a high degree of protection from all the elements, not just wind, rain, and snow but other extremes such as high temperatures and the effects of prolonged exposure to the sun. Such protection should ensure that your fuel management system can serve your fleet for many years. 

Can it be accessed easily for servicing?

Cabinets should be large enough to contain all the electronics needed and designed to enable full accessibility when being serviced. The most ideal units carry the high voltage components safely within a separate internal cabinet or behind screens to protect the components and to prevent accidents. Although compact designs may sometimes look appealing, in practice they may prevent simple repair or service work from being carried out, which may shorten the life of your system.

Should there be a bypass switch?

Bypass switches enable the operator to transfer power directly to the pump should the worst happen, and the fuel management system fails. Most systems now have this ability but not all will continue to record data each time the pump activated using the bypass. It may be vital to have a bypass switch installed but that shouldn’t result in you losing out on important data.

Can it be upgraded?

Many systems only accept a connection to two inputs at most but with most fleet operators now having to utilise both diesel and AdBlue, this leaves no room for an upgrade when a new type enters the market. Better systems will permit at least four inputs.

A good quality system will also offer a route to integrate new developments, such as tank stock information, into the fuel management package. The latest solutions enable the fuel and tank management systems to talk in harmony, thus paving the way to detect sudden drops in tank levels and detect leaks or thefts.

What are the best options for the user interface?

Displays need to illuminate for evening and night-time use, but a constantly lit display may attract the attention of vandals or thieves. Some systems now offer displays that only illuminate when in use, which should enable you to see the display when required and not when the system is idle.

It is also common for cheap systems to rely on membrane keypads or other touch-sensitive pads as its user interface. Although these look modern and stylish, they are prone to break or fail with heavy use. Better systems utilise a metal public service type keypad or keyboard that is proven to be highly robust.

For many fleets, there is a need to alter the method of access for different types of vehicles. The best systems are designed with not only clear and defined operator prompts which indicate how the system will operate, but also the ability to change the operator prompt depending on which identification device is presented.

A further benefit is to have a system that utilises a proximity reader for the identification device. Proximity devices are highly reliable and do not suffer from issues arising from readers that will require contact or rely upon a slot into which the identifier must be placed.

Are integrated systems any good?

Equipment that has a fuel management system built into a fuel pump is often a very good solution. Due to the requirement for a single cabinet only and the fact that the two units are factory prewired this solution can be an extremely cost-effective way to utilise a good fuel pump and fuel management system. 

Unfortunately, there are a number of examples where the manufacturer of the fuel management system and the fuel pump are not the same. These hybrid solutions rarely have the same level of support or operational life as systems from the same manufacturer, where you know who is responsible and able to assist.

There are also several examples where perfectly good fuel management systems are mated to cheap fuel pumps out of a desire to provide a cheaper alternative. Always look for an integrated package that is from a manufacturer with a long-term pedigree in providing you a reliable solution.

To discuss available options when investing in a fuel management system or to find out how one could benefit your company, contact Merridale on 01902 350 700 or visit