Automating fuel purchasing at truckstops has various benefits for fleets, notes Jon Archard, director at Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores. “From a fleet perspective, the premise of cardless fueling enables them to manage fuel purchasing more efficiently,” he says. “Fuel theft remains a big concern and represents a huge cost. This technology helps fleets ensure that the fuel they’re purchasing goes into their trucks and offers an almost immediate payback.”
In fact, says Tom Liutkus, vice president of marketing and public relations at TravelCenters of America (TA), both fleets and truck stop operators benefit from systems solutions that make fueling quicker and more efficient. “Theoretically,” he points out, “this technology reduces costs over time and also cuts the need for paper transactions. Fleets and truck stop operators are constantly seeking reductions in time that enable trucks and drivers to utilize more time on the road.”
QuikQ’s RFID-based communications and billing systems provide cardless transactions and management tools. The fuel transaction software resides within a carrier’s existing transportation management system and uses live operational data. Ii provides carriers with secure, real-time “carrier to truckstop” connectivity for the entire fuel transaction process.
“With RFID, automated pump activation reduces the need for driver data entry,” explains Ernie Betancourt, president of QuikQ. “For truckstops, that eliminates cashier workload associated with card swipes, reduces fees and streamlines transaction management.
“Our fuel purchasing system also creates a direct relationship between truckstops and the carriers,” Betancourt adds. “Speeding up the purchasing process improves customer satisfaction and direct communication with a carrier’s database supports streamlined management processes for both parties, saving time and money spent on administration, identification, approval and invoicing.”
The time savings from a faster and more efficient fueling process, Love’s Archard notes, can be very valuable under new Hours of Service regulations. “By the time a driver pulls up to pump, shuts down the engine and gets out of the cab, the transaction has already begun,” he relates. “Additionally, the system automatically records the exact time and location of each fuel stop, information that can be of value for updating dispatch and routing systems.”
Simultaneously to deploying SmartQ, Liutkus notes, TA is upgrading its fuel desk point-of-sale system, TravStar1, with operational enhancements that will enable the SmartQ system and other related functions. “Looking ahead,” he also says, “with more functionality on smartphones, it’s not hard to imagine this fueling capability being enabled through an application like other purchasing software.”
Along with its truck stop partners, QuikQ is now testing the latest version of its Gen2 RFID tags that drive the DFConnect and SmartQ systems. The new tags will allow writing to the tag via a wired connection, in addition to the wireless radio frequency system that is the basis for RFID tags.
“We have prototype devices that can write J1939 bus data to the tag, which can then be read by the existing infrastructure,” QuikQ’s Ernie Betancourt states. “The newer tags will have more data storage, as well. QuikQ is continually exploring enhancements to the fueling process, as well as entirely new applications for trucking companies and truck stop operators using this technology.”