By Doug Haugh
We always push readers to get efficient through automation. Meridian’s friend, Doug Haugh of FuelQUEST.com wrote the following article.
Managing on-site fuel inventories and the fuel replenishment schedule is a constant struggle for most petroleum marketers today. An even bigger challenge can be managing tank compliance for UST’s. While everyone in the industry knows that compliance is a critical responsibility, few companies spend the time and effort necessary to truly manage their compliance burden. That is, until they are cited or fined, at which time long-neglected activities get brought to the top of management’s list of priorities. Even for those companies comfortable and confident in their fuel management program, it’s likely they spend untold hours each week just collecting basic inventory information. Thanks to automated tools, there is a better way today!
Consolidated Inventory Planning – Achieving insight into every tank, gallon, and product movement all in one place. With consolidated inventory planning and fuel management practices, marketers have the opportunity to eliminate run-outs, haul backs, and split loads, while reducing transportation and inventory costs. The really great news is that most retailers with modern facilities already have automatic tank gauges on most tanks. Thousands of these ATG systems were installed during the nationwide 1998 tank regulation upgrades. With web-based software available today, these ATGs can be transformed from simple agents of compliance to one of the most efficiency-enhancing assets a marketer owns.
This transformation normally requires nothing more than the addition of a modem to the ATG system. Many POS and dispensing systems in use today can also be polled remotely for inventory and sale information, providing those marketers with consignment sites the ability to net out inventories and bill for gallons sold without ever visiting the store or calling the store for information. One other key point is the ability to manage both sites that have ATGs in place, and those that do not, using the same processes and people. With a combination of web-based software, Internet access at stores, or even a simple voice response unit to collect data over any phone, marketers can manage every location and every tank. Using advanced inventory planning you can:
· Eliminate run-outs.
· Minimize haul backs and split loads.
· Reduce in-store labor.
· Continuously monitor sites (24/7/365).
· Eliminate the need for rush orders.
· Prevent overfills and spills.
· Automate inventory data collection.
· Eliminate unpredictable order frequency.
Advanced inventory planning lets you know when you will need to order the next load, allowing you the opportunity to plan ahead for pricing situations or maximizing mixed loads to a particular site. Most importantly, you can reduce days of costly inventory on hand that reduce your cash flow; using your insight on tank inventories and forecasting to run leaner and meaner.
Automated Delivery Scheduling – Automated delivery scheduling is achieved with web-based applications that use a dynamic combination of past and present information retrieved from fuel sites to make accurate predictions about future demand patterns, allowing for the most efficient fuel delivery scheduling to all sites. Simply put, these solutions are the easiest way to consolidate and leverage inventory information you now have to optimize fuel inventory levels, schedule deliveries, and increase fuel profits. By using Automated Delivery Scheduling, you can:
· Optimize fuel inventory levels.
· Reduce fuel delivery frequency.
· Improve scheduling by planning for deliveries up to 4 days into the future.
· Increase gasoline profits.
· Have real time insight – check the inventory levels at any site at any time to ensure that you’re making the right delivery decision.
· Optimize the product mix of fuel grades.
· Reduce paperwork and redundant data entry by multiple departments.
· Achieve full tanker and driver utilization.
· Increase reconciliation accuracy.
Compliance Management –While compliance management doesn’t generate revenues, it can drain resources and expose you to environmental risk if not managed properly. There are several ways to get and stay in compliance with local, state, and federal UST regulations. Automated tracking and reporting solutions are easy and inexpensive. Many solutions don’t even require you to have a tank gauge at the site. They allow for collection and storage of manually generated data. Automated Compliance Management tools should provide you with:
· Comprehensive tools to meet EPA audit requirements.
· Documentation management, storage, and reporting.
· Online testing reports.
· Comprehensive alarm response and audit.
· Minimization of EPA compliance liability.
· Tools for tank/line leak alarm events.
· 24/7 monitoring of ATG sites.
· Consistent dispatch management for events.
· Archive of all tests, alarm events, response and resolution of exception/alarm events.
· One place to track testing results and closure activities for all alarms.