Bulk lube and fuels distributors are facing an ever-increasing need to overcome the inefficiencies associated with existing manual methods to track, monitor, and manage liquid storage tanks. All the man hours to accomplish these tasks means lost productivity and profits. Wireless, non-intrusive solutions that address this real market challenge for bulk liquid tank monitoring distributors use the power of M2M and the efficiencies of the Internet of Things to bring next generation technology to revolutionize the industry.
Retif Oil & Fuel, one of the nation’s leading distributors of petroleum specialty products, has been serving the petroleum needs of customers across the southeastern U.S. for nearly half a century. Fuel delivery has always had some built-in inefficiencies. And like most fuel and lubricant distributors, Retif followed a “keep full” model when restocking fuel tanks and was spending too much money “topping off” customer fuel tanks and making emergency deliveries. Without an accurate view of customer fuel stocks it was impossible to determine who needed fuel or how much they actually needed.
Intrigued with the possibility of reducing the number of delivery stops, Retif engaged Numerex® to deploy i-Tank™, a remote tank monitoring solution. Retif started with a small pilot, installing tank monitors on all the Valvoline® tanks around Lafayette and Baton Rouge. Retif personnel and customers now view tank fill levels and alerts in the iTank Management Portal. “It’s color-coded, so we just need to look at the ones approaching the 25-percent-full mark,” President, Kenny Retif commented. “You can pull up all of your deliveries in a section and take care of everyone in that threshold.” While the technology is easy to use, there were some customers hesitant to change their fill schedule for fear of it affecting their cash flow. Retif provided clear communication to explain the solution, why is was being deployed and how it would work, assuring customers it wouldn’t impact their service levels. The initial pilot was a success and deployment expanded across more tanks in their seven state coverage region. To date, Retif has deployed over 1,100 tank monitors, from Louisiana to Arkansas to the north and from Louisiana to Florida to the east, which Retif personnel installed. “Ease of installation was also a big selling point,” Retif said.
Emergency deliveries due to product run outs have been practically eliminated. Customers have greater peace of mind knowing they can determine how much inventory is available in real and low product inventory notifications can be set to alert designated users by email. Since deploying iTank, Retif has reduced the number of deliveries by roughly 48 percent. Total ROI has been variable, but business analysis shows reduction in delivery expenses of over $10,000 per month for the last 6 months and a reduction of almost $.10/gallon.