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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

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Merridale fuel management helps to deliver sustainable pricing

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Customer Stories, Reviews & Industry News

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Fuel Management

Winter 2013

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

operating costs.

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

parked-up vehicles.

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

any questions.

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.

electronic monitoring.

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

• Communications

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:

Fuel Management - Winter 2013  

Fuel Management Systems from Merridale. Merridale design, manufacture, install and service a comprehensive range of cost-effective fuel mana...

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