Technology Works to Speed Fuel Transactions

With increased demands on drivers and hours-of-service regulations, pro­fessional drivers are eager to stop for what they need and get back on the road as quickly as possible. Locations are offering more convenient food options and working to speed trans­actions inside the store, but many have been limited with what they could do on the fuel islands.

“The whole fueling process could easily take 15 minutes. If the wind is blowing and it is 15 degrees, it isn’t a pleasant situation, but it is the way things have been for 40 years,” said Roger Cole, editor of NATSO’s Biz Brief and a former NATSO chairman.

For passenger vehicles, fueling is as easy as pulling up to the pump and swiping a credit card, but that isn’t the same for professional drivers. Truck­ing companies often require drivers to enter multiple data points that are designed to reduce fraud and theft but can slow the process.

Cole said he often sees drivers jotting down odometer readings and walking around the truck to gather other de­tails, such as the license plate number and the trailer number. “Then they swipe their card, wait for it to approve the transactions and answer the vari­ous prompts before the pump starts,” Cole said. “It is quite a lengthy process of items you have to input.”

The biggest dilemma for travel cen­ter operators is that they have valued customers standing outside, entering information into the pump and pos­sibly getting frustrated. “The driver says, ‘I have to stand out in the cold and you’re making me go through all of these steps,’ when in fact it isn’t the truckstop that is requiring all of that information, it is the trucking com­pany,” Cole said.

However, new technology on the fuel islands is working to change that by eliminating the number of prompts required before turning on a pump and speeding the transaction.

APP TECHNOLOGY

Mobile applications are increasing the number of things smartphone users can do by simply tapping their screens. The myPilot mobile app from Pilot Flying J is no different. “This app is designed to do one thing—make your life easier,” Pilot’s website said.

The app allows drivers to choose the diesel lane that’s likely to open first and securely stores payment card informa­tion and payment card prompts for future use. Via the app, drivers also get access to loyalty points, shower reserva­tions, and route mapping and a travel center locator.

Pegasus TransTech recently joined with the myPilot mobile application to integrate the new myPilot mobile app into its Transflo Mobile platform. The app features are automatically activat­ed by a virtual geofence, developed by Transflo, surrounding the travel center. When drivers enter the geofenced area, they receive an alert directing them to the myPilot functions. This ensures that vehicle operators do not need to use the app while driving and adds to the existing in-motion safety features of the solution.

The integrated Pilot Flying J func­tionality will be accessible by more than 400,000 drivers who use Trans­flo Mobile. “The integration immedi­ately helps carriers gain back some of the time that is being taken away by the new hours of service rules,” said Frank Adelman, chief executive offi­cer of Pegasus TransTech.

RFID FUELING

With radio-frequency-identification technology, a radio signal from a tag attached to the truck or trailer sends a signal to a sensor located in the fuel island canopy. Once the sensor reads the RFID tag and verifies the infor­mation with the carrier, the pump turns on and the driver can fuel the truck. The pump turns off when the truck pulls away.

QuikQ offers the technology, which costs approximately $1,700 per lane at the truckstop for the hardware and about $1 for the RFID tag carriers place in their windshields. There are about 1,700 drivers using QuikQ and more than 800 truckstops and travel plazas that either have installed or are install­ing the technology, said Tamara Wil­son, chief operating officer for QuikQ.

QuikQ is currently available at all Love’s locations, and independent operators are becoming more inter­ested in it, Wilson added.

QuikQ is integrated with trans­portation management software from McLeod and TMW, so the system can pull asset information, including details on the driver, load number and which trailer should be attached. “It knows that data before the driver gets out and it ensures fuel is going to the right asset,” Wilson said.

A location’s traffic mix will help de­termine whether or not the technology would be useful at a specific site. “If they are in the lane that doesn’t have the big three [chains] in it, they could pick up that volume,” Wilson said.

Cole acknowledged that it can be difficult for an independent op­erator to compete with some of the latest fuel-island technology, but said it could create an opportunity for a third-party provider to intro­duce a solution.

If companies do work to speed cus­tomers through the fuel island, Dar­ren Schulte, NATSO’s vice president of membership, warned that it could impact the ring on the average ticket. “If you have even fewer people com­ing into your store, you could see a decrease in sales. You’ll have to work to find ways to specifically convert those customers into purchasing cus­tomers,” he said.



via Business Feeds

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