WCF Fuels North West, a leading fuel distributor covering mainly Lancashire and Cumbria, has deployed our C1 series on-truck computer in their fleet of oil delivery tankers.
Dave Spencer, the company's General Manager, explains why they chose In-CarPC…
"We are a fuel distributor delivering oil-based products such as Kerosene, Gas Oil, DERV and Petrol to domestic users, farmers, factories, hauliers, garages etc. Like most of our competitors, we used to use 3-part paper delivery tickets which were handed to the driver at the beginning of his shift. When finished he would travel back to the depot to hand in his notes. This made it difficult to modify the driver's route during his shift. We frequently have orders placed in nearby areas after the vehicle has started its day’s work, resulting in the tanker covering the same localities day after day.
"We had seen the potential for better communication a number of years ago and had decided to try to help develop a system which would alleviate some of these issues. The outcome of this was a bespoke product that we used for about seven years and was, in its time, quite a sophisticated on-tanker computer system. It had convinced us of the benefits of such a system but, as with everything else, after seven years it was becoming dated.
"We have been working alongside our software service provider, CDS Computer Design Systems Ltd, for a number of years in an effort to update and develop our on-truck computing, but were having difficulty finding the right hardware which 'ticked all the boxes' for both the application and the regulations which apply to our specialist vehicles.
"We had a couple of false starts with inadequate or over-specified, expensive military-grade equipment and it was frustrating that the software was almost ready and yet we had still not found the right hardware. I eventually had the thought that, rather than a removable device encumbered with compromises, what was needed was a computer that behaved like a desktop PC but which was designed for the harsh environment of a vehicle, and quickly found In-CarPC. After such a long search it was almost too good to be true, and I wondered why it had taken me so long to do something so simple.
"In-CarPC supplied us with their PC and other equipment including a touchscreen. We ran trials for a few months and soon realised that this was the solution we had been looking for. In-CarPC liaised with CDS and between them they came up with a package that did everything we needed.
"With the on-board PC running CDS's 'Deliverer' software, the system allows loading and delivery data to be sent to the driver over a GPRS or 3G mobile network from wherever the tanker is located. We can add or remove orders from each driver's load as the day develops according to demand. The system also allows us to produce accurate VAT invoices at the point of delivery. Data from the tanker is automatically communicated to and from head office, where staff can see a real-time map of each vehicle's progress.
"The on-truck PC also includes a Sat-Nav facility. The system picks up the address details from the customer's account and at the touch of a button takes the driver to the exact spot where the customer's tank lies. Can you imagine how much time and money can be saved by having even a brand new driver know how to go directly to the right spot within all of your customers' premises?
"One of the main advantages of the system is that it is a PC running fully featured Windows software. It can be retro-fitted to older vehicles and can be used with any tanker manufacturer's equipment. Our system is linked to Alfons Haar metering equipment on the fuel oil tankers, which allows the PC to set the meter with the correct quantity. After the delivery has taken place the meter informs the PC of the quantity that was actually delivered, if different (e.g. due to the customer's tank being full), and an updated delivery ticket or invoice is produced there and then. This configuration gives full auditability.
"By late 2012 we had fitted all our fleet of 14 tankers with the In-CarPC hardware and, like all good things, it seems as though it was always there. The system has proved to be very reliable and the service provided by In-CarPC has been really good - quick response times, speedy delivery, personal service, etc. Nothing seems too much trouble."
Client's website: www.wcfnw.co.uk
CODAS website (software system for oil & LP gas distributors, developed by CDS): www.codas.co.uk
If your fuel oil distribution company is looking for an on-truck computer system please contact us to see how our computers, combined with CDS's Deliverer software, can help.