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Love's Tries RFID for Automating Fuel Payments

The retailer is testing a passive UHF solution from QuikQ enabling truck drivers to fuel up more efficiently, while also ensuring against fuel fraud.
By Claire Swedberg
Sep 09, 2011Trucking companies purchasing fuel at Love's Travel Stops and Country Stores will soon be able to equip their trucks with radio frequency identification tags, so that drivers will be able to fuel up without scanning ID cards or entering data into a keypad. The advantage, for both drivers and their companies, is that this will not only speed up the fuelling process (by eliminating the need for ID cards), but also ensure against fuel fraud—a practice by which fuel is sold by a company's driver to another driver at the fueling station, at that firm's expense.

The system, known as Fuel Island Manager, is provided by QuikQ, based in Franklin, Tenn. Love's Travel Stops is currently testing the technology at one of its locations in Oklahoma City. If all goes well with the testing, the company hopes to equip each of its 215 fuel stations with RFID readers by the end of 2011; the firm also has another 60 locations that do not provide fuel.

At each fuel pump, an overhead RFID reader antenna automatically identifies the truck being fueled.

Love's Travel Stops and Country Stores is a family-run retailer that operates truck stops that sell fuel, food and supplies across 39 U.S. states. Many of these facilities—known as travel centers—are frequented by drivers working for trucking companies, according to Jenny Love Meyer, the retailer's director of communications. Truck drivers typically use Comdata or some other fuel-payment service that allows them to swipe a card at a fuel pump, and to input information, such as his or her ID number and the vehicle's odometer reading, in order to obtain authorization to purchase fuel, which is then billed directly to the driver's employer.

With Fuel Island Manager, Love's hopes to add a layer of efficiency and security to the solution. An EPC Gen 2 passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tag on a truck or a refrigerated trailer enables a vehicle to be recognized as it pulls into the fuel lane. Authorization to begin fueling is automatically initiated, sparing that individual the process of swiping a card or entering data on the keypad.

When installed at a fueling station, the Fuel Island Manager consists of one or more Impinj readers and up to four antennas per interrogator, with each antenna mounted above a lane at which one fuel pump is located. Impinj Monza 4 RFID chips are embedded in tags attached to vehicles, says Vince Peschio, QuikQ's CTO and VP, each encoded with a unique ID number linked to the specific truck to which it is affixed. QuikQ has partnered with Comdata so that its fuel-payment solution can be used in tandem with Fuel Island Manager to pay for fuel purchases.

QuikQ also provides its own payment-based software, known as DFConnect, which is linked to the Love's point-of-sale (POS) system, allowing users to be billed by Love's. The tag, Peschio explains, is encoded with a list of credentials indicating the billing system used. Thus, if a user were to pay via a Comdata account, that information, along with the tag's ID number, would be routed to the software. Although Comdata is the first business to partner with QuikQ, Peschio says his company is currently in discussions with other billing firms as well.

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