Digital Technology - Necessity is the Mother of Invention
An advanced fuel management system that’s easy to use
As discussed in previous JobbersWorld articles, digital technology plays a vital role in the lubricant distribution business. It provides a means to operate faster, manage transactions and inventory more efficiently, better understand and respond to customer behavior, and strengthen supplier and customer relationships. In addition to these and other benefits, digital technology help distributors increase profits and gain a competitive edge.
Although fully integrated, end-to-end digital solutions can be expensive to purchase and implement, Kevin Bretthauer, co-founder of FuelCloud, says they don’t have to be. “Digital technology does not have to be complex or costly to have a big impact if it’s built with a real understanding of the problems distributors face.”
FuelCloud is backed by four generations of fuel industry knowledge. Pictured: Don Bretthauer
Prior to founding FuelCloud in 2015, Kevin and his sister Alex worked at (and later managed) their family’s fourth-generation fuel and lubricant distribution business. This first-hand experience was instrumental in FuelCloud’s founding: by understanding the problems that distributors and their customers faced, Kevin and Alex saw the opportunities for new technology to improve business operations.
FuelCloud’s first product, FuelCloud FMS, uses cloud-based software to create a fuel management system that is less expensive than hardware-focused alternatives without sacrificing reporting or monitoring features. FuelCloud FMS has three components: a small control box that mounts on bulk fuel tanks, a free mobile app for accessing pumps, and an online web portal for monitoring fuel data and controlling tank access. These three pieces work together to create a flexible and scalable solution that is designed to make it as easy as possible for customers to track and control their fuel, whether they’re managing one tank or one hundred tanks.
The FuelCloud Truck System is FuelCloud’s newest product, and is built with the same philosophy in mind – superior data management and system flexibility at lower system cost, enabled by the power of software.
The Truck System uses a software integration with the LCR-series register already installed on tank wagons to monitor and manage the product delivery process, and deliveries can be completed with the same FuelCloud mobile app that drivers use to fill their vehicles. Again, the power of software has decreased system cost by eliminating the need for hardware, in turn giving distributors the delivery tracking and management functionality they need at lower cost and with less complexity. While designed with fleet fueling in mind, the Truck System is equally useful for tracking and managing bulk lubricant delivery.
The goal of this article is not to promote FuelCloud’s technology specifically – FuelCloud is one of many digital solutions on the market that can track fuel and lubricant deliveries. Rather, the goal is to highlight how FuelCloud’s approach is part of a growing trend in the lubricant distribution business of new technology being developed directly by or in collaboration with fuel and lubricant distributors. FuelCloud, VisualSupplier, and other digital technologies show that necessity is the mother of invention: no one knows more about what a distributor needs than those who are in the business.
Of course, as Bretthauer notes, “the technology has to be ready for whatever the future may hold.” The fuel and lubricant industry is changing rapidly, and technology providers must be able to keep up with new technical capabilities and industry best practices as they arrive. Whether distributors rely on established technology suppliers or innovative newcomers, they must also evaluate how flexible and adaptable a solution is for the future. A lower cost system that can adapt to the future may be more valuable in the long run than a higher cost, more complex system that is designed for the present. And what better way to navigate that decision than with the help of real-world knowledge from distributors?
Founded in 2015 by fuel industry veterans, FuelCloud builds technology that makes delivering and managing bulk fuel faster, easier, and less expensive than traditional options. Awarded three patents and trusted organizations around the world, FuelCloud is setting the standard for how transportation energy is managed, traded, and moved. More>>