20th May 2022 is World Metrology Day and measurement nerds everywhere (yes it’s a thing) are celebrating the role that metrology plays in providing people with the confidence that they are getting what they pay for.  In the fuel industry, where our product is invisible to the customer trust in measurement is vital and NMI is continuing to engage actively with ACAPMA in a collaborative manner to ensure the industry has the information and support it needs to continue high levels of compliance and trust.

The National Measurement Institute (NMI), the regulatory body that oversees weights and measures.  This naturally includes engaging with sites on the fuel pumps and their delivery, but also includes Fuel Quality and Tobacco Plain Packaging compliance and has been actively engaging with ACAPMA for many years to drive compliance outcomes for the industry.

“NMI has been active and proactive in engaging with us and providing guidance and support to members so that as an industry we can identify issues and correct them quickly”, explains ACAPMAs Elisha Radwanowski.

“The compliance level at fuel businesses is very high.  Following an increase in issues several years ago, an increase from an incredibly small base, active communication and collaboration saw the numbers return to stable with NMI explaining at this weeks compliance meeting that ongoing compliance testing is showing that there has been impressive outcomes from the program”, add Elisha.

“This is pleasing but compliance is a job that is never done, so all operators are encouraged to ensure their calibration and verification schedule is reviewed according to their volume and that these vital checks are undertaken by qualified contractors and documented in full”, continues Elisha.

“What is important to understand on this World Metrology Day is that the engagement with NMI is likely to increase in the future.  Digital metrology is the future.  A future where the regulator can remotely access measurement instruments and run confidence and compliance tests is already the reality in other jurisdictions and will be the reality in Australia very soon”, adds Elisha.

Whether it is giving away fuel, or under-delivering, incorrect pumps are non compliant and a risk to the business. With customers focused on value, and the regulator inspecting more sites than ever, all businesses are encouraged to review their pump verification and calibration to ensure compliance now or it could cost more than just money.

The focus of NMI has been on inspecting as many pumps as possible, resulting more than five times more pumps inspected during this period versus the same period five years ago. This focus has been ongoing for the past few years, and while the number of inaccurate under-delivering pumps found is reducing, inspectors are maintaining the focus and will be visiting sites across the country to inspect and test fuel dispensers to ensure that they are accurate in the amount they are dispensing and charging customers.  Fuel retailers are encouraged to prepare for these visits by reviewing the fuel dispenser verification, calibration and maintenance practices now.

There are several requirements under the law that apply to the operation of retail fuel dispensers, that are all aimed at ensuring the customer receives the exact amount of product they are ultimately charged for.  The overarching requirement is that fuel dispensers are accurate at all times; that when a pump displays that it has dispensed 10 litres of product, that the amount dispensed is actually 10 litres.

If you are selling petrol, diesel or LPG you must comply with the following requirements:

  •  LPG dispensers must be accurate within the specified tolerances
  • all other fuel dispensers must be accurate within ± 0.3%
  • all volume must be displayed in litres (L)
  • indicators showing unit price ($ per L) and total price ($) must be clearly displayed
  • all hoses, nozzles, lights and displays must be in good working order
  • all fuel dispensers used for the wholesale and retail sale of petrol, diesel and LPG must be verified and their calibration points sealed by a servicing licensee or trade measurement inspector
  • in the case of multi-product fuel dispensers, each delivery hose is a measuring instrument
  • control systems attached to fuel dispensers are a measuring instrument and must be verified by a servicing licensee or trade measurement inspector.

Of particular interest to the inspectors when visiting sites as part of this campaign will be the requirements pertaining to verification of fuel dispensers and control systems, with inspectors seeking to confirm that the dispensers and control systems have been verified appropriately.

It is a requirement that fuel control systems and fuel dispensers be verified (and their calibration points sealed) by a servicing licensee.  Fuel dispensers cannot be calibrated and verified by just anyone, there is a requirement that they be verified by persons certified by NMI to undertake the verification of fuel dispensers.

The requirement for verification is very specific, verification must be done by a qualified person holding current certification with the regulator.  The frequency of verification however, is less specific.  In order to achieve and demonstrate compliance with the requirement for the fuel dispenser to be accurate at all times regular calibration and verification is recommended.

What is regular will depend on the circumstances onsite, such as; the volume of product dispensed, the age and nature of the pumps themselves, the harshness of the environment (floods, snow and searing heat) and the regular maintenance of the fuel dispenser.  Verification requires that the calibration points of the fuel dispenser are sealed, and regular maintenance and calibration will require these seals to be broken, which removes the verification.  Every time the fuel dispensers calibration points are opened the fuel dispenser will need to be verified again by a qualified and certified servicing licensee.

Where breaches of applicable laws are found, NMI can issue infringement notices with fines of $1,100 for each offence. Where repeat or particularly serious breaches are detected, the matter can be referred for prosecution and maximum penalties of $220,000 per offence as a company or $44,400 per offence as an individual.

For more information on the requirements around fuel dispenser and control system verification please see the following links;

Elisha Radwanowski BCom(HRM&IR)