Hounslow keys in to fuel management and depot security

Fuel management is a key operation for all local authorities, and the London Borough of Hounslow, a major consumer of diesel fuel, is no exception. Deliveries to Environmental Direct Services Bridge Road depot are currently running at 20,000 litres every two weeks.

The majority of the council's vehicles are diesel powered. Fuel is purchased in bulk and dispensed from the depot storage tanks. Fuel for petrol vehicles is purchased from retail sites using agency cards. Petrol facilities at Bridge Road have been refurbished and converted for diesel use. Currently there are five tanks giving a total capacity of 64,500 litres. Plans are in hand to commission an additional fuelling facility off-site.

Council departments such as waste collection, housing, and social services all operate a variety of different types of vehicles. In former times, fuel distribution relied on local meter readings and laborious manual records. Nowadays budgets are more closely controlled and each department has to monitor its operating costs closely. As well as developing individual department responsibility, the council's Vehicle Fleet Management team is also getting more detailed management information such as vehicle economy by calculating miles per gallon (mpg). This is important in that it allows better-informed decisions to be made in the procurement of new vehicles.

These improvements have been helped by the installation of Merridale pump control units and software supplied by MIS Fuel Monitoring. Operated by keys, these units record details of every fuelling transaction, as authorised by driver and vehicle ID keys, and the entry of the vehicle mileage reading. This data, together with time and amount of fuel drawn, can then be downloaded as required to the fleet administration computer via an electronic link.

Currently, the London Borough of Hounslow operates over 300 vehicles in a diverse fleet ranging from four axle roll-on, roll-off lorries; three axle refuse vehicles; gulley emptiers; eight-tonne trucks, light commercials with flat backs and cages; 17 and 15-seat minibuses; and a number of light vans and a couple of estate cars. The entire fleet is supported from the Bridge Road depot.

For diesel fuelling, each vehicle is allocated a key into which its fleet number is programmed so it will be recognised by the system. Keys are also issued for long-term hire vehicles. Transactions for short-term hire vehicles are processed by registration number. Drivers are issued a separate key that confirms their personal identity details.

Building on this success in managing the refuelling process, Hounslow has also installed Merridale FR units for controlling gate access into the depot facilities, replacing a swipe card system. An important advantage is that vehicle drivers can use the same key to obtain access to the site.


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