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Tanzanian Logistics Company Tracks Fuel Trucks

After testing an RFID-based solution on one of its tanker trucks, Usangu Logistic is preparing to install it on 30 of its vehicles, enabling the company to know, in real time, where and when fuel is stolen.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 01, 2011Tanzanian logistics firm Usangu Logistic Ltd. is employing an RFID-based system to help assure the distribution of oil products to the proper channels as its drivers transport fuel to gas stations throughout East and Central Africa. The system uses GPS and RFID technology provided and installed by Mukri & Co. (M&C), a transit cargo and supply chain management solutions company. The solution has been in use since January to determine how well RFID could control pilferage of product by tracking whether a tank is sealed with an RFID tag which transmits its status to a reader and then sends reader data along with GPS coordinates to the back-end software.

Located in Dar es Salam, Tanzania, Usangu Logistic not only provides transportation of fuel and other bulk cargo, it also manages some of the fuel stations that sell the oil products it transports. Once a driver leaves the site at which his tanker truck was loaded with product, it is often very difficult for logistics companies to ensure that none of the fuel is pilfered from the truck and sold on the black market. This is a concern for both fuel stations and logistics companies, since both parties need to be certain that the correct amount of product was delivered to the proper locations.

M&C's Ashraf Mukri
Usangu Logistic began testing the RFID/GPS system in January, to determine how well the technology can provide visibility into a truck's cargo—even when that vehicle is on the road. The company sought a reliable control mechanism that could verify that the hatch for accessing the vehicle's tank was locked, and that the firm would be alerted at every point at which the hatch was unlocked.

"Being a transportation logistics company, loss of any delivery payload—be it oil or any other cargo—can cost us our credibility," says Saad Ismail, Usangu Logistic's director. Beyond the loss of credibility is the potential for direct financial losses if product is pilfered during transportation. "The solution provided by M&C allows us to extend the trust relationship we share with our customers."

Usangu Logistic tested the solution on a single truck for a month, Ismail says, and determined that the technology works. The company now plans to install the system on 30 of its approximately 100 trucks, later this year.

The trucks transport oil and gas throughout Tanzania, as well as into the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Zambia and Uganda. "The first requirement was to provide a foolproof system which also runs parallel to the current operations," says Ashraf A. Mukri, M&C's business development manager. "We had to provide a solution that is no different to the current sealing process." Truck drivers should be able to close and open a tank's hatch, as they had previously done. What's more, he notes, Usangu Logistic wanted to be sure that the automated solution did not create any new opportunities to pilfer gas, such as adding new access points on the tank. "The system had to be as simple as 1, 2, 3, and at the same time stealthy enough to virtually avoid any hacks to it."


Edward Lutsko 2011-03-08 07:50:09 AM
Director of Operations, PressurePro I would like to further explore your fuel level sensing methodologies. At what point do you detect unauthorized fuel dispensing? Do you do any measurements of inside fuel levels?
Jack Hurdle 2011-03-23 10:46:30 AM
Answers to questions posed. Unauthorized fuel dispensing is detected when the vehicle is at an unauthorized location and the seal has been opened. Fuel levels can also be monitored. Please contact EarthSearch at (866) 503-9316 to further explore this option. We are providing the solution to Ashraf on this project. Also www.earthsearch.us is our website.

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