Automated Fuel Services Increase Efficiency, Profits for Waste Fleets

October 22, 2014

5 Min Read
Automated Fuel Services Increase Efficiency, Profits for Waste Fleets

Peter J. Cochefski

The $55 billion U.S. waste-management industry is projected to reach a value of $60 billion by 2016. When you consider many cash-strapped municipalities have been doing everything possible to cut costs, growing a business in this competitive sector can be incredibly challenging.

The waste collection portion of the sector, which accounts for $34 billion, or 61 percent of industry revenues, must cope with a highly dynamic operation made up of enormous fleets of trucks. These fleets are depended on by hundreds of millions of people to remain in constant motion, collecting waste 365 days of the year.

Since waste fleet management personnel understand that increased pressure to generate profits cannot solely focus on additional fee increases paid by municipalities and individual customers, there is more scrutiny being placed on increased operating efficiency and minimizing wasted resources. You can expect this trend to continue as management focuses on controlling vehicle maintenance and fleet operating costs while investing in operational upgrades and worker-safety programs.

Waste fleet managers are most likely to invest in improvements and programs that can reap the most immediate benefits—especially those benefits that can positively impact the bottom line. With so many variables contributing to an efficient and profitable waste operation, one thing is for certain: Wherever it gets picked up, wherever it goes, waste gets there via waste-management fleets that are running on petroleum products.

The volatility of fuel costs in addition to the ever-increasing expense of maintaining and repairing fleet vehicles, as well as the cost for violations of new compliance measures, justifies a waste fleet manager’s interest in any technology or potential solution that minimizes those expenses.

For every waste fleet vehicle leaving the staging facility to collect its load, there are a large number of additional vehicles performing specific tasks essential to the waste operation. As fuel costs escalate, waste management fleets focused on optimizing their fueling operations, as well as their companies’ bottom lines, have found that investing in and implementing a suite of automated fuel-management services into their operations can have immediate benefits.

Real time access to fuel inventory levels and fueling habits at any time of the day or night is a huge advantage for any company. However, waste fleet management can have many variables, from the number of employees accessing the fuel to the diversity of equipment/vehicles being fueled, all of which can make tracking fuel usage and inventory levels problematic.

Today’s automated fuel-tracking services—which rely on dedicated application-specific hardware and software—deliver an accurate account of fuel-usage data from a facility, including exactly where that fuel is going. This can immediately eliminate any guesswork on expenditures for a day, week or month, and it is often an opportunity to identify or deter theft.

In addition, ensuring accurate fuel inventory levels are critical for each location since running out of fuel can be very costly and disruptive to overall operations. No matter the size of the company, there can be a lack of coordination and communication between its various branches. This can result in additional, often unnecessary or redundant, reporting processes that can lead to a drain on waste management resources, with any mistakes opening the company up to greater risks and liabilities.

Incorporating a fuel management system into their day-to-day operations will allow waste management operators to feel confident that the fuel will be there when they need it, and also enable them to get the most out of every dollar spent on a gallon of fuel through increased vigilance.

Three other value-added features of a quality fuel management service program that can adequately serve a waste collection operation are: service maintenance, alarm management and environmental compliance.

Service maintenance lets the operator know how much time maintenance technicians spend onsite, which can be hard to track by a manager or clerk. Also, by accurately tracking common maintenance issues, it becomes much easier to anticipate future maintenance expenses.

Alarm management has traditionally been a labor-intensive manual job, so an automated fuel-management system allows this difficult task to be outsourced to a company that can diagnose, solve and document alarm conditions immediately. Detecting an alarm event at the earliest possible point is essential in identifying a potential environmental risk and mitigating the costs that can be associated with environmental remediation.

Environmental compliance can be one of the most complex and intimidating functions for any waste operation that is required to utilize a fuel source. Today’s automated fuel-management systems are designed to track and update compliance data and incidents continuously. Automating this process enhances the value of the service by helping assure compliance without increasing the amount of employee understanding of complex environmental policies, all while mitigating risk for the operator.

New, technologically advanced fuel management services that are available today have been designed for ease of use and understanding, with a wide array of benefits for any waste management operation. These systems can easily provide site managers, owners, fuel buyers and fuel suppliers with an end-to-end fuel management solution that centralizes the capture and storage of key fueling-site information

The modern fuel management service provides extensive integration of automated processes that are capable of ensuring that the end user creates and maintains consistent site operations, with an end goal of delivering maximized operational efficiencies.

A waste management fleet presents a very unique set of daily challenges that can create stress for management and have an immediate impact on an operation’s profits. Fuel tracking represents an especially impactful and difficult aspect to managing a waste fleet, but today’s fuel-management services can help alleviate any fuel tracking challenges through the ability to centralize data and deliver a more profitable operation.

Peter J. Cochefski is the Director of Houston-based Ryder Fuel Services, a subsidiary of Ryder System, Inc., and a provider of fuel-management services that focus on compliance management, remote monitoring, alarm management, service management, fuel management and supply, and environmental best management practices. Peter can be reached at [email protected].

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