Do you know the best way for fuel consumption monitoring using a GPS for your fleet?

Corporate telematics systems can monitor the fuel consumption of the fleet in different ways, depending on vehicle type (cars, trucks, buses, construction vehicles, agricultural vehicles, etc.), technical capabilities, and of course customer requirements.  

In the next paragraphs, we will briefly review 5 different methods for fuel monitoring using a corporate telematics system, depending on the fuel consumption data source:

  1. Factory-installed Vehicle Fuel Sensor 

For this method for fuel tracking the corporate telematics system employs the data from the vehicle factory sensor, also called the built-in sensor on the vehicle. It is located in the tank of the car. The corporate telematics system uses a GPS/GPRS device connected to the built-in fuel sensor of the vehicle.  The fuel sensor transmits data for fuel level. This is the same information that the driver of the vehicle sees on the dashboard of the car.
You have to know that reading accuracy depends mainly on the accuracy of the built-in sensor. In practice, the corporate telematics system takes the data from the factory sensor and visualizes it in a software application. The role of the corporate telematics system is to show the data, calculate the fuel consumption, and mathematically minimize inaccuracies due to the movement of the fuel in the vehicle tank.
This method is suitable for cars, pickup vehicles, and small buses and allows the fleet manager to register fuel theft from the tank.

  1. Administrative Way for Fuel Management with Corporate Telematics System

The administrative way for fuel management does not track fuel sensors. The operators enter fuel data or import files with fuel information provided by gas stations to the client  

This method does not allow theft registration of fuel because there is no direct monitoring of the fuel level in the tank. Its purpose is to calculate the fuel consumption based on the fuel data, provided by gas stations, and accumulated vehicle mileage in the corporate telematics system.  

  1. Onboard Computer of the Vehicle

Modern corporate telematics systems can connect to the vehicle’s onboard computer and read fuel consumption data from it. Presumably this method can be considered as most correct because it is based on the data of the vehicle manufacturer.
There are three major drawbacks, that we want to mention. Firstly, the connection to the onboard computer is not available for all types of vehicles, even if they have one. The second is that there is no guarantee that fuel data is available. Thus, the usefulness of this method is limited. Thirdly, fuel theft can’t be reported by a board computer. Nevertheless, the big advantage of the accuracy of the reported fuel consumption per 100 km or operating hours remains.

  1. Flowmeters 

Calculation of the fuel consumption through flowmeters integrated within corporate telematics systems is quite specifically applicable and is used mainly in construction machinery and heavy trucks. For this purpose, the mechanic invasively changes the machine’s fuel system by placing flowmeters in both directions of the fuel flow – forward and reverse oil. The corporate telematics system takes the data from the two flowmeters and calculates the difference as the fuel passes through the engine. At first reading, this method seems very attractive, but applying it in practice, we encounter the following issues: 1 / the flow of large volumes of fuel through the forward and reverse oil accumulates error; 2 / even if there is theft of fuel from the tank or reverse oil, this theft can not be registered nor proven. 1 / In case of insufficiently clean fuel it is possible to get a blockage in the fuel system of the vehicle, preventing it from operating or reducing the power of the engine dramatically. 4 / To ensure the machine or the vehicle will not stop working the mechanics leave a “bypass” of the flowmeters to which the driver has access and after all, the drivers are the people we have to control; 5 / The price of this solution exceeds that of all other fuel control methods several times.
The advantage of this method is that it can calculate the fuel volume passed through the vehicle engine or spent fuel from the engine, with the accumulated error of course.

  1. High Accuracy Capacitive Sensor

Monitoring the fuel through the corporate telematics system using a capacitive sensor allows high precision, which mainly depends on the shape and depth of the tank. The technicians install the capacitive sensor in the tank and detect the fuel level in the tank. The corporate telematics system reads the data, visualizes fuel levels, and calculates fuel consumption.
The disadvantage of this method is that it is necessary to pierce the reservoir to place the precision capacitive sensor. This in turn makes it inapplicable in cases of warranty vehicles. There are also technological constraints associated with the physical distance above the tank necessary for access and installation of the capacitive sensor.
The big advantage of the method of tracking fuel through a capacitive sensor is its accuracy and the ability to register drains/theft of fuel with greater precision. It is therefore one of the most frequently used methods to control fuel with corporate telematics systems on trucks and machines with high-volume tanks.

It’s not all the same when you track the fuel consumption of construction machinery, trucks, cars, or buses.
Which is the most appropriate way to control fuel with corporate telematic systems for your fleet?