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RFID-enabled Fuel-Monitoring System Connects to the Internet of Things

Customers in multiple countries report improved fuel accountability after adopting the solution.
By Nathaniel Prince
Feb 27, 2017

Fluid Management Technology Pty Ltd. (FMT), a specialist in fuel tank management, has developed an RFID- and Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled solution for clients that need to accurately monitor their fuel consumption. The backbone of the system is a device that the company calls the SmartFill GEN 2, which helps prevent theft by restricting fuel dispensal only to authorized users.

Waving a card or fob with an embedded Near Field Communication (NFC) tag over the SmartFill unit (which contains a custom-made reader that uses NXP Semiconductors' PN532 chip set) activates the pump. The tags are sourced from a Chinese manufacturer and comply with the ISO 14443A (MiFare) standard. A magnetic swipe card reader is also an available option, allowing for an alternate method for the pump to be activated.

A SmartFill unit affixed to a pump
There are two ways in which the SmartFill unit can be attached to the fuel pump. It can be directly connected to the flowmeter's pulse output, thereby controlling the power to the pump via a relay in the unit, or a vendor-specific two-wire serial data connection can be used instead. Once it is installed, the only way to activate the pump is through the SmartFill, effectively eliminating the risk of fuel theft.

When the pump is used, the precise amount of removed fuel is stored in the unit. If a client desires, drivers can also be prompted to enter a PIN, creating a comprehensive record of who has been using the pump, what vehicle was fueled, how much fuel was used and so on. In addition, FMT offers an IoT-based module called the SmartDip, which is wired to a pressure sensor to determine the height of the fluid remaining in the tank that feeds the fuel pump. This data is stored in the unit and can be uploaded to a secure website, allowing it to be accessed remotely via a smartphone.

A fob and card with embedded NFC chips being swiped over the SmartFill unit
The system, according to Bob Thomas, FMT's managing director, is compatible with any type of fuel, provided that the pump has an in-line flowmeter with a pulse output. It was initially tested in labs and then underwent beta-testing at customer sites; furthermore, each unit is individually tested during production. The system achieved Australian National Measurement Institute approval and has also been certified in accordance with UL 1238.

Primary customers for the system, according to FMT, include operators of mines, transit systems and marinas, as well as municipalities and other organizations that manage fleets of vehicles trucks. One customer is Georgiou Group, an Australian construction company. "SmartFill GEN 2 has automated the whole process," reports Cameron Towie, the company's equipment manager. "This system saves a lot of man-hours, and with fuel prices in the current economy, it's good to know we can monitor and account for every single drop."

FMT is based in Adelaide, Australia, and recently opened a U.S. branch in Troy, Michigan. It commercially introduced the system in Australia in October 2013 and in the United States in March 2016. The solution is being marketed through a mix of personal selling, email campaigns and Google ads, Thomas reports, and more than 700 systems have been deployed to date throughout the world, including in Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Papua New Guinea and the United States. "The majority are installed in Australia, but numbers are slowly increasing in the USA," he adds.

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