A Waze for Fleet Fuel Management

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fleet fuel management

A tool from Comdata allows real-time fuel price scoring, route planning, and analytics to reduce fuel costs for fleets.

Fuel prices may be low now but they are subject to spikes that can hit fleet managers and shipping companies with unexpected costs. And even low prices can impact a company’s bottom line:  Spending 5 or 10 cents more on a gallon of gas may not be a huge deal for a light commuter, but that adds up for any company that puts hundreds of vehicles on the road every day.

Just as Waze allows consumers to reroute to less-congested roads, one way to manage fuel spending by fleets is to provide real-time visibility into fuel purchases to allow course corrections as needed. However, fleets do not always have access to fuel transaction data in real time. In addition, customers in small-to-mid-sized fleet companies do not consistently have access to sophisticated analytics tools or the staff to operate them.

Comdata, a leading vendor of payment solutions for companies including its Fleet Card for fuel management, sought to help drivers find the lowest available fuel prices. The challenge was to collect, interpret, synchronize, and use data that would help customers make better fuel purchasing decisions.

fleet fuel managementFleet Fuel Management and Route Planning

Comdata has partnered with Credera to develop FleetAdvance, a platform that employs real-time transaction data to provide information the moment fuel purchases occur. FleetAdvance presents real-time dashboards and scorecards, analytical views of historical performance, and route planning tools.

Using a proprietary algorithm, the FleetAdvance scoring topology takes every fuel transaction that is processed and calculates fuel purchase scores by comparing it to all other fueling location options.

With these scores, Comdata says that customers are able to quickly understand the quality of transactions. FleetAdvance will send fleet managers immediate emails or text message notifications for each transaction that falls outside established score guidelines. Managers can then converse with a driver near the time the problem transaction occurred, giving them the opportunity to educate the driver and prevent future problems.

Architecture: In-Memory Computing

Because of the volume of data and the need to calculate, consolidate, and present the data quickly, the platform uses a Redis in-memory data structure store to make data readily available to all the components of the fuel management platform. This has allowed for very high performance while minimizing the input/output impact on underlying systems, according to Comdata.

All fuel transactions can be monitored via a web-based console that tracks purchasing activity and provides key information in real-time. The development team built several views, starting with a FleetAdvance Console view that provides real-time visibility into customer fuel spending across an entire fleet with a Google Map view of where transactions are occurring and their current scores. This view is updated in real-time and helps customers monitor their fuel spend across their entire fleet.

Fleet managers can set preferred performance criteria and receive text or email alerts when drivers fall below this threshold. When a driver swipes the card at the pump, the exact location is identified and pricing is compared to other locations within the geographic area. Fleet managers can also view their fleets’ spending and savings in real time. A color-coded system ranks driver performance, allowing them to easily monitor certain drivers as they purchase fuel across the country. Fleet managers can view a dashboard of average fuel transaction scores and measure the additional fuel cost savings with the FleetAdvance Analyzer feature. They can also identify savings opportunities by driver, merchant, and state.

fleet fuel management

FleetAdvance also allows locations to be rated.

Benefits

With Comdata’s FleetAdvance, fleet managers are able to set fuel price thresholds and purchasing criteria, receive immediate text or email alerts when drivers do not comply, and track fuel purchasing performance and savings via a dedicated portal. The solution also employs analytics to quantify and identify additional savings opportunities. The collaboration between Comdata and Credera for FleetAdvance won a 2014 Best Practices Award from TDWI.

The FleetAdvance tool, also available in a mobile app, allows fleet managers to monitor the balance on a Comdata-issued MasterCard. (Airgas, which delivers industrial and medical gases and has a fleet of 3,000 vehicles, turned to a Comdata card to view fuel-purchasing activity for purchasing limits and regulatory compliance. The system allows Airgas to spend much less time processing transactions—30 minutes for 16,000).

The FleetAdvance tool, however, extends the reach of fleet fuel management. With real-time transaction scoring, immediate notifications, management console and comprehensive analytics, Comdata reports that fleets will reportedly find lower fuel prices 54 percent of the time. Fleet managers can monitor drivers’ spending in real time, 24 hours per day, seven days a week. The company states that FleetAdvance can save more than six percent in fuel costs.


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