Real-time, real time data, real time information is the currency of the moment, consider Google, RSS feeds, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat. It is often associated with the latest trends, facts or information delivered as it happens. So, how is real-time defined?
Take Snapchat, it's the popular mobile app that allows you to send videos and pictures, both of which have gone after a few seconds of a person viewing them. Whilst this occurs in real-time, the power of real-time information is not only the immediacy of the data but what it enables you to do with it.
In this article, we talk about real-time fuel management systems, what they are for fuel management, how they can help your business be more proactive in managing fuel costs, with delivery of data accuracy, enabling faster processing and informed decision making.
What is real-time data?
Real-time data (RTD) is information that is delivered immediately after collection. Of course, we now need to understand what “immediate” means. Is it micro seconds, or weekly? Access and reporting RTD are determined by the speed at which information changes and when it becomes available for the user to analyze. If there is “no delay” in the timeliness of the information provided, then we would call that real-time.
So, what is real-time in fuel management?
If you look at your information monthly then real-time (or no delay in timeliness) is effectively having all the information available every month. If you consider fuel management on a weekly basis then real-time is every week. If daily, hourly, etc. So, what is needed for “no delay” in fuel management? In our experience, accurate weekly information is all that is really needed. If the fuel used is recorded at the fuel management system then uploaded to the cloud and it need not occur any more than daily or weekly. This effectively is real-time for the fuel management industry.
The mistake which many in the fuel business make is thinking that the data must be uploaded every few seconds. For many fuel management units in the field this is not going to be practical. Intermittency of a cell network, internet intermittency or simply the fact a unit may be placed on a truck which only connects with a network every few days means that real-time data every few seconds is impractical to impossible.
What is really needed for fuel management is for the system to have a local memory, storing transactions, which uploads through a network every few minutes or whenever the unit is in contact with the network. This is real-time for the fuel management industry.
Benefits of real-time data for fuel management systems
The fuel distribution business is one of the most complex and heavily regulated industries not only in the US but also throughout the world. Using the correct system with real time data (RTD) capabilities allows you to quickly and accurately access data for fuel management and reporting with the following key benefits:
1. Automated RTD exchange for accurate accounting
Fuel management systems which utilize RTD exchange provide quicker financial accounting turnaround via an automated process from fuel orders to inventory, recording fuel usage for all allocated vehicles to monitor and ensure every single drop of fuel is allocated.
2. Fast data for quick and frequent rebate calculations
Fast accurate data provides for quick calculations of rebates for tax purposes. Reporting and claiming fuel tax rebates becomes a very quick and streamlined process with RTD systems as fuel data and management reports are readily available for frequent processing.
3. Total control over cost allocation and usage for informed decision making
Fuel records are automatically stored online as fuel is used, allowing your invoicing process to begin immediately. By updating your accounting system in real-time, costs are simple to allocate to each department providing easy reconciliation. With a high degree of control and central accounting for every drop of fuel, allows for all costs to be allocated with a high degree of accuracy and efficiency.
4. Access to your data online, anytime, anywhere
With real-time fuel management systems, you can access to your data online and at any time, saving you time, money and effort. RTD solutions provide easy access to your fuel records usually via a web browser with no requirement for special software, meaning the networked communications keep your fuel records up-to-date in real-time.
5. Informed decision making at anytime
Real-time fuel use data reports can keep you informed allowing key decision making at any time. Mid-month budget constraints, easy identification of vehicle maintenance, vehicle and fleet efficiency monitoring, weekly reporting, daily comparisons, help to identify key issues for immediate actions. A vehicle will stand out if it is using more fuel than it should.
6. Remote data access
Being able to access all fuel use data remotely, eliminates the need for a staff member to travel out to site to access data for fuel reporting. All fuel use reporting and fuel reconciliation can be managed, with ease, from the any location or centralized office.
Real-time fuel management data leads to effective and accurate accounting and recording of your fuel consumption, saving you time and money.