Sam Murden, 06 January 2016

The transportation industry has been losing millions of dollars over the last few years through vehicle drivers using company vehicles to use gasoline personally.

According to the 2015 State of the Industry report, petrol/fuel theft was up 6.8 per cent nationally for the 2014 calendar year.

Employees can either siphon fuel from fuel tanks or use special devices making it hard to detect that fuel world gradually be leaving the fuel tank.

In 2012 tanker drivers siphoned off petrol destined for Sydney Caltex Woolworths service station and sold it for 50c a litre to low-cost rival service stations in a $1 million scam.

Director of LeFand Services Philip Lacovou said despite having a dynamic company that operated in the building management and maintenance, workers using company cards to buy fuel that was too expensive to personally afford.

“When we asked why the workers had been stealing the fuel, they believed that staff would not understand that they were saving money through using the company card to obtain fuel,” Lacovou said.

In correlation with the cases of fuel theft, the company was also struggling with contractors that were completing two hour jobs in 15 minutes.

Rising fuel costs and increasing difficulty passing on fuel levies in a competitive market mean that companies like LeFand Services have to find new measures to ensure the business is economically viable whilst taking care of their employees.

Fortunately, a system that could assist in maintaining productivity standards would save LeFand Services from wasting money and improve employee relations.

How Tom-Tom put fuel efficiency back on the road

Netherlands based mapping, navigation and telematics developer TomTom Telematics made its presence known in Australia in November last year, with a massive launch of its enterprise telematics business.

Its aim has been to embed itself into thousands of fleet vehicles across the country, seeing Australia as a perfect market given the lack of sensory traffic management technology currently used by road authorities.

According to TomTom Telematics’ Australian head Christopher Chisman-Duffy, the WEBFLEET system allowed consistent monitoring of vehicles which stopped their engine to refuel.

“The soaring cost of fuel has made it the number one concern for many fleet operators and the LINK530 builds on TomTom Telematics’ existing product portfolio to give them even greater power to improve efficiency, monitor driver behaviour and deliver cost savings,” Chisman-Duffy said.

Efficiency was the common goal between TomTom Telematics and LeFand Services and TomTom Telematics device features a system which can maintain productivity standards through working hours that correspond to individuals within the company in addition to fuel usage and distances driven over a period of time.

A sure-fire way to stamp out these rorts is the system’s ability to check that a work vehicle is actually at the location where the fuel is purchased on either a fuel card or expenses card at the time the transaction occurs. If the work vehicle isn’t at the petrol station, it’s almost certain company fuel is being pumped into an employee’s car.

After 3 months of using the TomTom Telematics service, Lacovou said there had been no fuel thefts within the business: a success he attributes to the monitoring of vehicles that stop their engine to refuel. Fuel charges were also reduced with the implementation of the system, dropping from $2,800 to $2,000 in a month.

By utilising a truck’s standard fleet management system (FMS) interface, the LINK510 detects fuel drops and refills triggers automatic notifications to help managers detect incidences of fuel theft.

It also helped LeFand Services halve fuel costs within the first few weeks by removing vehicle overuse for private activity and seeking out cases of outright fuel theft.

Those who bill for labour and services on an hourly basis, are also squarely in the telematics mix because the data extracted from WEBFLEET can show where vehicles, crews or contractors are at a given time and for how long they’ve been there. Data from TomTom Telematics’ journey management system helped Philip’s clients to validate crew work activity.

As most fleet leasing and financing companies now offer fleet management software and apps as part of their service, a key question is whether these will naturally gravitate towards devices like TomTom Telematics’ in the wider ‘vehicle-as-a-service’.

Extracted in full from Logistics & Materials Handling.