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New Zealand Refueling Company Tanks Up With RFID

Mini-Tankers is using passive HF tags and interrogators to track its customers' fuel consumption, improve billing and simplify administrative tasks.
By Beth Bacheldor
Aug 30, 2007Mini-Tankers, a diesel refueling service based in Auckland, New Zealand, is using high-frequency (HF) passive tags and interrogators, combined with Global Positioning System (GPS) and cell-phone technology, to track its customers' fuel consumption, improve billing and simplify administrative tasks. This enables Mini-Tankers' customers—which include airports, as well as logging, mining, construction and civil engineering companies—to receive detailed fuel-consumption analyses designed to help them make smarter business decisions.

Mini-Tankers contracted Tracient Technologies, a wireless and RFID technology provider in Christchurch, New Zealand, to deploy an RFID- and GPS-based in-vehicle system for metering fuel dispensed in the field by Mini-Tankers' franchisees. The system employs passive 13.56 MHz RFID tags supporting the ISO 15693 and ISO 18000 standards and designed for mounting on metal. It also includes Tracient's handheld Bluetooth-enabled Padl-R HF RFID interrogators, Psion Teklogix's WorkAbout Pro handheld PDA and a GPS unit from Navman.

A MiniTankers fuel-truck driver uses a handheld RFID interrogator to identify the vehicle being serviced.

A small RFID tag, measuring 30 millimeters in diameter, is affixed near the fuel cap of a construction machine or vehicle using super-strength adhesive backing. The tag's unique ID number is linked to a record containing the customer's information, in a database housed at Mini-Tankers' offices. When the time comes to refuel, the driver holds the Padl-R reader near the fuel cap to automatically record its tag number, as well as the date and time of refueling. Prior to the RFID deployment, the driver manually scrolled through a long list of asset names on a handheld computer to choose the correct one.

When the driver returns to the cab, the Padl-R uploads tag data wirelessly (via a Bluetooth connection) to the WorkAbout Pro handheld, which collects fuel measurements from the vehicle's fuel meter via a serial communications cable. All data is then transferred to Mini-Tankers' database via a cellular radio, which is part of the Navman GPS unit. Such automated collection makes it easier to produce an accurate record and invoice showing the date, time and location of delivery, as well as the exact amount of fuel delivered.

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