SunFun leads the way with first Merridale vLink into service for a UK coach and bus operator
Merridale Auditor GS in operation on the Falkland Islands
Celebrating 20 years service to the transport industry Merridale will be celebrating its 20th anniversary
stayed the course, while others have fallen by the
become written oﬀ as legacy equipment
during 2014. Over the forthcoming editions we
wayside. Throughout this time however, Merridale
unworthy of further support, in an eﬀort to sell
are planning to review the company s time line
has remained true to its principle ethos. Robust
existing customers a new generation.
and its contribution to the evolution of
build standards, quality materials and functional
commercial fuelling equipment - looking at both
hardware and software development.
This policy of no obsolescence together with the ability to upgrade even the oldest systems has led
From the start users were assured that they were
to a loyal customer base of users who were and
Merridale has always been a front runner and we
investing in Merridale equipment and systems that
remain conﬁdent that their initial investment has
are proud to say that today - the brand name has
were not only ﬁt-for-purpose, but also would
on-going full life protection.
become associated with ﬁrst class product quality
remain supported and compatible with future
backed up by truly eﬀective after sales support.
Over two decades Merridale has jockeyed for
It has been this long term commitment that
systems have become the brand name to be
market share with a couple of rival manufacturers.
distinguished the Merridale brand. And we have
We have seen new entries oﬀering a new twist, or
defended our reputation by sticking to our
the latest must have features. Some of these have
promise that Merridale systems would never
The next few issues will expand upon some of the company s history and reasons why Merridale
Merridale spares – keeping your system compliant Please forgive us for harping on about the importance of ﬁtting only genuine spares. There is no shortage of spares and no excuse for using anything other than the approved replacement parts - supplied either directly by Merridale or any of our authorised distributors. We are concerned that non approved parts and modiﬁcations are being oﬀered by third party service agents. As well as undermining the integrity of our quality standards, this grey
Fuel Management - Winter 2013
Merridale fuel management helps to deliver sustainable pricing
Customer Stories, Reviews & Industry News
In this issue...
market has no respect for long term performance, CE health and safety or weights and measures approvals. Merridale takes this very seriously and security features have been developed within the operational system software to identify and prevent unauthorised access. Fully approved service technicians can be identiﬁed by the Merridale distributor Logo. If you should be in doubt please ask us direct to clarify distributor status.
Merridale fuel management helps to deliver sustainable pricing Coach hire is a competitive business, none more
To manage eﬀectively we need good quality
integral monitoring. This collects the details of
so than in South Wales where Thomas Coaches
information for generating quotations. And that
every fuelling transaction for downloading to the
has been operating for over 40 years. The
requires a total understanding of all the costs
back oﬃce computer.
company came into being following the collapse
involved in getting a vehicle of the road. Our
of a local ﬁrm that had been contracted to
pricing is border-line. If a prospective customer
provide transport services to support
claims that he can get a better oﬀer elsewhere ‒
construction of the busy Heads of the Valleys
then we are happy to concede the opportunity.
Anyone who quotes below our price will be doing
Walter Thomas took the opportunity to buy up the vehicles and take over the work as Thomas Coaches. He had trained as a commercial vehicle
the work for no return, and that is simply not sustainable and they will go out of business, sooner or later.
Drivers obtain fuel by using a smart key which is allocated to each vehicle. While this authenticates the vehicle being fuelled, the transaction is further authorised by keying in the vehicle odo-meter reading. As an additional security measure the fuelling point is covered by the garage CCTV cameras.
service engineer within the public service vehicle sector and had already acquired some experience in local bus operations. Later he founded, a subsidiary company, Thomas of Rhondda, which was set up in 1996 with Walter s wife Judith and their son Ian. This side of
“The important benefit from the Merridale system is that we are able to manage our fuel requirements actively. We have absolute visibility of our stock status, which allows us to plan the timing for purchasing stock to secure the best prices.” - David Thomas, Operations Manager, Thomas of Rhondda
the business has invested in luxury coaches for long distance and continental travel, under contract to leading Welsh national tour operators. In addition to hire contracts, Thomas also provides school transport and a number of local bus
Apart from wages our biggest on-cost is the fuel consumed by the vehicles.
services. The ﬁrm operates a ﬂeet of 18 luxury
David Thomas continues: The depot has a 55K
coaches and 40 buses, including high capacity
litres capacity storage tank which is replenished
seating for schools and smaller vehicles for local
monthly with one or two tanker deliveries of up to
bus services. The business operates out of the
36K litres. We are monitoring our stock
former National Welsh bus depot, located in
continuously to ensure that it is used eﬃciently.
Porth, which is18 miles north of Cardiﬀ.
Our requirements ﬂuctuate according to current
We are proud of our record for service and reliability, explains operations manager, David Thomas. Having made the investment in vehicles, drivers and the engineering support needed to
work patterns. It will fall oﬀ during school holidays
The fuelling data ‒ vehicle, time and amount drawn is downloaded daily to the system database. After processing, this provides a detailed report of each vehicle s mpg performance. This information enables us to track performance and highlight any anomalies such as service issues or driving style ‒ such as excessive idling time. Since the software is also recording fuel usage, it
or when the touring coaches are abroad, since
provides a back-up to physical dips to check tank
they will be fuelling up on the road.
contents. We also use the system to ﬂag up the
This stock represents a signiﬁcant large slice of
minimum stock re-order point.
put them on the road safely, our job is to ensure
the company s working capital and it needs
David Thomas concludes by saying: The
that they deliver the return needed to cover our
careful management to ensure ﬂexibility. In other
important beneﬁt from the Merridale system is
words, holding just suﬃcient fuel for our
that we are able to manage our fuel requirements
immediate requirements and minimising the
actively. We have absolute visibility of our stock
amount of stock locked away in the tanks of
status, which allows us to plan the timing for
purchasing stock to secure the best prices. This
Accurate costing is essential therefore. Sustainability is about proﬁtability ‒ earning suﬃcient margins to ensure we can aﬀord not only to pay our drivers and engineering staﬀ a fair
We are using the Merridale fuel management
wage, but also make the investment we need to
system to track our fuel usage. The fuelling point
secure our future development.
is based on a Merridale commercial pump with
Fuel Management - Winter 2013
gives us the commercial edge by enabling us to match our purchasing to revenue income and thereby balance the books.
SunFun leads the way with first Merridale vLink into service for a UK coach and bus operator As business conﬁdence returns to the coach travel industry, many operators are taking the opportunity to update their depot facilities. For SunFun Luxury Travel of Earith, Cambridgeshire, this involved the installation of a larger diesel storage tank. The new tank has been ﬁtted out with an integrated Merridale pump with electronic monitoring for vehicle dispensing, security and stock management. The company also chose to use the Merridale vLink data transfer cable, making SunFun the ﬁrst coach and bus operator to adopt this conﬁguration. Based on proven proximity tag technology, it uses a simple snap on and quick release communications cable. On connection this enables the fuelling control software to recognise the vLink ID plate attached to an authorised vehicle. A memory device within the plate is updated on completion of the transaction. The cable works in the same way as the Merridale proximity data tags. These are also used by SunFun for authenticating hire vehicles
The SunFun depot fuelling point uses the Merridale vLink cable to authorise fuelling.
and company cars not ﬁtted with the vLink plates.
includes a telephone help desk should we have
As well as pioneering the Merridale vLink
system, the new SunFun fuelling point is of
SunFun operates a ﬂeet of 44 vehicles covering
further signiﬁcance because it marks the
three main market sectors from long distance
company s transition from manual records to
touring to daily school runs.
Accurate records are important to the school
Fleet consumption from the depot tank
buses as these are fuelled frequently, according
averages around 20K litres a month. This
to daily work schedules. The touring coaches are
amounts to around £240,000 a year at current
more often away from base and will draw fuel
prices, so clearly we needed to ﬁnd a better way
on the road. The Merridale system allows
of managing this important resource explains
SunFun to import details of these external
SunFun facilities manager, Steve Fields.
transactions onto the master database to
The Merridale software provides all the
provide a complete record for every vehicle.
functionality we need to monitor our usage and
Sun Fun International is a family owned ﬁrm set
track the mpg economy performance of the
up 26 years ago to provide day trips and holiday
SunFun ﬂeet. In this respect we have made a big
excursions for the communities of expatriates
step forward from meter readings and manual records. We are saving time and clerical eﬀort sorting out queries. Merridale provides better quality information, as and whenever it is required. All depot fuelling transactions are now recorded automatically. We know which vehicle
“All depot fuelling transactions are now recorded automatically. We know which vehicle was fuelled, the time, the amount drawn and by whom. The Merridale FuelWorks software is very user friendly and we were quickly up and running following the set up briefing.”
was fuelled, the time, the amount drawn and by
- Steve Fields, Facilities Manager, SunFun Luxury Travel
whom. The Merridale FuelWorks software is very user friendly and we were quickly up and running following the set up brieﬁng. We chose the Merridale dispensing equipment
who were living on the US bases around
colleges in the region. SunFun has also
developed a specialist niche with the provision
because it is very robust and has an excellent
As the business developed, the company has
reputation for reliability. After six months we
built up a ﬂeet of executive touring coaches,
have only had one service issue when the third-
fully equipped for long distance travel. This work
party GPRS network link went down. But this
is complemented by executive coach hire,
was dealt with very quickly. Merridale support
serving corporate customers, schools and
Fuel Management - Winter 2013
of night-liner coaches for pop groups. These vehicles are often on the road for periods of up to three months touring concert venues throughout Europe.
Merridale Auditor GS in operation on the Falkland Islands A Merridale diesel dispenser has been installed on
supply, storage and repair, plus the ﬁre service
the Falklands Islands at the Fox Bay diesel bunker
cover for the aircraft taxi service.
facilities. The complex is located between the airﬁeld and Fox Bay Village. The bay is at the
I am also responsible for the allocation of diesel supplies, explains Mark.
southern end of the Falkland Sound, about 150 miles from the capital at Stanley.
Previously I had to physically unlock the old pump and supply the fuel to our customers.
Fox Bay Village is the main settlement of the West Island with a population of around 30 out of a total of 100 people, most of whom are sheep farmers. Diesel is a crucial commodity, not only for transportation but also for electrical power
Sometimes this would be once or twice a day and maybe up to ten transactions if we were busy. Each sale was recorded manually. Not a big job but diesel is a valuable resource and accuracy was suﬃciently robust and it incorporated a secure
generation. The opportunity to upgrade came along as the Fuel oil distribution is managed by the Falkland Islands Government which also owns the storage tanks. The bunker facility comprises four tanks
equipment we were using was becoming increasingly unreliable. So we went online to look
are replenished on a six weekly cycle.
My main priority was to ﬁnd a self-service pump that could guarantee reliability. Fox Bay is a coastal environment, fully exposed to the elements and
The facility is managed by the Fox Bay
the weather here gets pretty harsh at times.
maintenance of the government buildings: water
Since it has been installed it has made my life a lot
And Merridale were very helpful. Even at such a great distance, our communications have been excellent. All the staﬀ contacts have been brilliant to deal with. If I have any problems, I know that I can speak to someone directly - by telephone if
government agent, Mark Jones. It is part of a wide ranging remit which covers Postmaster, general
control and the reporting for customer accounts. easier, says Mark.
for a replacement pump.
giving a total capacity of 80,000 litres. Usage is currently around 1,000 litres a day and the tanks
system for self-service, fuel management, stock
A deciding factor for choosing the Merridale
Auditor GS was the build quality. The unit is
Upgrades that can help to reduce operating costs Whilst business may be picking up, we are all under constant threat from the competition.
• Are your fuel usage stats readily available to help managers make better informed
How well are you tracking your operating
decisions re vehicle deployment and
costs? When did you last review your depot
Ask Merridale about: • Web-based Fuel Management service
fuelling facilities to ensure that they are
As in previous years, Merridale will be
• Contactless Identiﬁers
meeting your current business requirements
participating at the Commercial Vehicle show
• Security Upgrades
eﬃciently? Can we help?
which is being held in Birmingham from 29th April to 1st May. We will be showing a range of
• Tank Gauging
• Are there additional wet-stock dispensers ‒ such as Adblue and Lube Oil which can be managed within your Merridale system?. • Can you make savings by centralising fuel management?
options and upgrade solutions. You will be
welcome to visit our stand, even if just to stop
• System Upgrades
by for a quick chat and let us know how you are
• Additional Pump Connections
getting on with your existing Merridale installation.
April 29th - May 1st, 2014 - NEC, Birmingham
See us at
Stand 3B72 About MIS Fuel Monitoring Ltd. MIS Fuel Monitoring Ltd provides a total capability covering the design, manufacture, installation and support of the Merridale range of fuel management systems. These include comprehensive reporting tools and facilities to export data to third party applications for further analysis. Solutions can be provided for any size of fleet, from small operators to large fleets with multiple depots.
Fuel Management - Winter 2013
MIS Fuel Monitoring Ltd Merridale Works Lower Walsall Street Horseley Fields Wolverhampton WV1 2EU Phone: +44 (0) 1902 350700 Fax: +44 (0) 1902 350715 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org