Running a petrol station is a complex undertaking, from both a commercial and environmental standpoint.
Fuel leaks are a particular concern, with some stations storing up to 150,000 litres of fuel in underground tanks at any one time. Accurate and timely data is needed to detect leaks early, as it only takes a few hundred litres of fuel to contaminate up to a million litres of drinking water.
But getting access to accurate and timely data can be impeded by factors, such as disparate and outdated software, reliance on manual checking, and the high cost of updating existing infrastructure. These all make harvesting data a significant barrier to performing meaningful analysis.
It‘s a complex problem, but one that Environmental Monitoring Solution (EMS) was determined to tackle head-on. As a specialist provider of services, infrastructure and technology to petrol station operators, EMS was keen to create a platform that would give them better intelligence regarding maintenance and repair.
New thinking was needed, so EMS turned to technology solutions provider DiUS to design a solution that would enable cost-effective harvesting and analysis of station data.
DiUS took home the coveted Customer Experience award at last year's CRN Impact Awards and is now vying for another win in the Digital Transformation category.
That solution was an IoT platform called Fuelscan, which used non-intrusive sensor devices and gateways to aggregate data from tanks in real time. This was combined with a cloud-based storage and analytics platform called Fuelsuite, for real-time analysis and reporting.
DiUS started by engaging in workshops and on-site research to determine needs and understand how staff interacted with assets. Development of the solutions involved multiple prototypes and trials, leading to a proof-of-concept hosted which provided a single, simple and easy-to-use data entry view of a customer’s site to help them monitor fuel activity and events, hosted on Amazon Web Services.
The final stage of product development saw an expansion of the prototype to support multiple sources of information, providing appropriate views for each context of use and additional functions to allow the customer to drill down and analyse their data.
Numerous challenges were overcome along the way, such as the need to monitor pump data using a non-intrusive method that did not electrically load existing pump communications. Two non-intrusive methods were proven, using a fibre optic interface coupled to an existing data activity LED, and a magnetic sensing method. This led to the development of a Pump Communications Module (PCM).
The initial Fuelscan proof-of-concept was delivered in five weeks, testing the two non-intrusive methods. Broader field trials took place over three months, with full development and manufacture of the first 1000 devices taking an additional five months.
Twelve months later EMS has rolled the solution out to more than 1070 stations across all states and territories, monitoring 5350 tanks.
The results have been very positive, with estimated savings for retailers of $2 million in maintenance spending, a 50 percent improvement in their ability to detect and resolve fuel incidents, and a 30 percent improvement in fuel variance.
As well as being able to better detect leaks, Fuelsuite identifies route-cause of failure, meaning EMS clients need only send one contractor to respond, as opposed to multiple visits. This benefit alone is expected to provide a 200 percent return on investment for EMS customers.
The system can also detect water in fuel tanks and immediately trigger a shutdown to avoid pumping water into consumers vehicles. This will lead to a direct payback in terms of insurance claims that amount to about $100,000 per year.
And real-time price data means EMS customers now know whenever an authorised price change has been made instantaneously, with price disparity alerts. This also means they can meet ACCC retail price compliance regulations. The systems can also identify incorrect fuel dispensing, with a highly predictive solution that pinpoints specific meters in error and prompts for repair and calibration. This is expected to produce a 150 percent return on investment for EMS customers.
According to Russell Dupuy, founder and managing director of EMS, DiUS was able to help his company achieve its goal of disrupting entrenched competition and break the traditional mould of how things were done, unlocking real-time high definition data for clients’ benefit.
“The DiUS team fitted our way of thinking and getting things done,” Dupuy says. “The DiUS Cloud and embedded teams continue to work collaboratively with our teams to deliver the outcome on time and on budget – great people to work with, that I highly recommend.”
DiUS is a finalist in the 'Digital Transformation' category in the 2018 CRN Impact Awards. For a list of all finalists and further details on the awards, please head to the CRN Impact Awards hub. The awards take place during the CRN Pipeline conference. You can get more information and purchase tickets here.