If you find that your pumps are increasingly out of action and you’re making repeat calls to your maintenance people, it may be time to consider replacing them.
Sachin Jain, marketing director for fuel dispensers at Gilbarco Veeder-Root (GVR), says: "Problems with very old and obsolete pumps can be difficult to resolve due to availability of parts. Visual signs such as rust or panel degradation are also indicators that the fuel dispenser is at an age where replacement should be considered."
The SK700-II is GVR’s flagship fuel dispensing product. Jain continues: "Fuel retailers benefit from the fact that this flexible solution can be customised to fit their unique requirements. This includes the integration of up to six grades and combination dispensing of standard fuels and alternative fuels such as LPG.
"In addition, options such as Applause Europe multimedia, Ecometer, CRIND to enable pay at pump, vapour recovery and STA (Standard Temperature Accounting) can easily be added to existing dispensers in line with customer requirements. The design can also be easily adapted as panels can be changed to curved, different colours or have stainless steel incorporated."
Vigilance is the key to longevity as dispensers can and should be checked regularly by the owners. So says Adrian Beeby, UK sales director at Tokheim, who adds: "If something doesn’t sound right, don’t leave it get it checked out as soon as possible.
"We have invested heavily in service processes and now have a European platform for service control called Kimoce. While a software package does not provide service, it does allow the capture and control of all information and assets from every service source and brings these together to the place they are required for actions.
"Service is simple if you draw it on a whiteboard right person, right skills, right parts, to the right site at the right time. Service is about the simple application of solid technique. The techniques should be preventative, support the core functions of the product and provide consistency availability and reliability."
At Tokheim, it’s the Quantium range that’s the best seller. "It’s a very recognisable product which focuses on the core issues for a retailer," explains Beeby. "These are consistency, reliability, availability and the cost of achieving and maintaining these attributes."
Ian Jacques, managing director at Scheidt & Bachmann (S&B), says investment in pumps used to be a ’commodity’ decision, but now discerning retailers appreciate that this decision can shape many aspects of their retail strategy, especially when you think about multimedia at the pump.
"We have proven that multimedia significantly drives retail sales in store, as technology has become more sophisticated allowing the customer to interact at the pump. Via our touch-screen interface we are able to incentivise the customer to shop in store, this is achieved by allowing them to select promotions where they identify the value."
Jain says GVR’s Applause Europe multimedia system adds a new dimension to communicating on the forecourt. "It allows retailers to target their messages to different scenarios. For example, the time of day by showing c-store promotions during the morning commute or promoting car washes at the weekend when there is a high demand."
Jacques reckons that multimedia works even when the customer has selected to pay@pump.
"This dispels the myth that pay@pump suppresses shop sales when in fact it provides convenience with reward. This rich experience delivers the ’c’ in c-store and provides the consumer with a cognitive choice."
There’s no doubt that outdoor payment technology is a thorny issue. As Jacques alluded to, many forecourt retailers are very reluctant to adopt it because they worry about lost sales in store.
But Beeby says outdoor payment provides several benefits: providing ’fuel mission’ customers speed and reliability, making the site more attractive than one with queues; providing a low-cost method of extending opening hours; as well as helping to combat drive-offs.
Jacques says his firm’s customers confirm that cash is still king and therefore operators should not be creating barriers to accept cash.
"With the number of retail sites shrinking year-on-year, but the demand for fuel undiminished, pay@pump will drive the industry forwards over the next decade. This is why we have leveraged our cash acceptance technology and experience into our forecourt payment products.
"Not only can we accept credit, debit, fuel and loyalty cards, we are also able to accept cash either at the pump or at standalone outdoor payment terminals (OPTs), removing any barriers to sales for the retailer. This has been proven at the GO unmanned filling stations in Northern Ireland."
GO brand owner LCC Group’s director Daniel Loughran, says: "The S&B pump and payment platform is second to none in the industry and with the added benefit of being able to work closely with the manufacturer, we felt that we could drive more value and convenience for our customers by adding cash acceptance direct at the pump.
"Research had shown us that in our unmanned card-only filling station model we were losing out on the cash sale customer. I was delighted with the result after implementing cash acceptance alongside cards we have seen a significant uplift in sales opposed to the card-only model."
Across the water
Obviously fuel pump requirements vary from country to country.
Jains says that in The Netherlands and Italy for example, alternative fuels are popular and solutions such as the SK700-II, allow fuel retailers to offer flexible dispensing by incorporating alternative fuels alongside standard ones.
"Multimedia at the fuel dispenser is another popular solution in the Netherlands, where Applause Europe is being used to provide targeted, relevant and clear messaging.
"In Italy and Scandinavia, unmanned service stations are more prominent and Gilbarco Veeder-Root’s FlexPay OPTs are being used to support both attended and unattended operations. Unmanned operations are also being seen in Poland, where self-service for refuelling LPG, which was previously a manned operation, has been introduced.
"Germany has taken the lead in AdBlue for cars installations, which is a more environmentally and customer friendly solution than using bottles."
Beeby adds that in the US, dispensers need to have integrated media and options on touch and pay mechanisms.
"In the Middle East the focus is on vehicle identification and linking this to a cloud-based method of payment.
"All these technologies are available and provide different benefits in their own right. Being a global provider means we can meet any change in UK attitudes immediately."
Adblue for cars
Sachin Jain, marketing director for fuel dispensers at Gilbarco Veeder-Root (GVR), says another advance in fuel pumps has been the development of the AdBlue for cars dispenser in response to the Euro 6 standard for passenger cars, which follows the Euro 4 and 5 exhaust standards for trucks.
"The ATEX approved AdBlue for cars dispenser comes as a standalone or a multi-product dispenser with the possibility to integrate a 1,100ltr AdBlue tank," he explains. "By integrating the AdBlue for cars dispenser into the forecourt, customers can fill both diesel and AdBlue from the same position."
Fuel company view
Hilary Barrett, head of developments (UK) for Applegreen, says the Scheidt & Bachmann (S&B) Eurotank Partnership offers Petrogas/Applegreen a one-stop shop for its fuel systems service, installation and equipment supply.
"S&B and Eurotank have been faced with many challenges taking on Applegreen’s rapidly growing network, which has doubled in size in a year.
"Eurotank’s experience managing the end-to-end fuel system tanks, pipelines and vapour recovery systems, reduces our need to manage multiple contractors allowing our operation more time to focus on wet-stock management.
"The service we are getting for pump maintenance is above and beyond what was anticipated. Eurotank and S&B ensure the resources are in place to deliver the contract efficiently and when problems occur, our sites receive an immediate response 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week. The Pump Service Team works together, sometimes going beyond their personal remit, to ensure we get the help and all-round support we need.
"We have re-pumped more than one fifth of our network so far this year with S&B pumps and Eurotank’s TrueZero pump calibration services. Reduction in wet-stock losses is a direct result."
Malcolm Blake, Oasis Service Station, Long Riston
"After doing some research, I chose Tokheim as my pump supplier as they ticked more boxes than the competition, and I believed they gave me the best value for money.
"I opted for media screens and ATC, and also for my pumps to be connected to the internet for as long as the site is open. This means faults can be fixed remotely if and when they occur.
"The media screen option gives me a chance to sell products to my customers while they are filling up their vehicles. They are a captive audience once they start to fill their cars they look at the screens and read the offers I’m promoting. We also have an audio option, which I have not used yet. I aim to set this up in conjunction with my symbol group and, in my view, this will increase customer spend. Customers read the adverts and can become distracted so then buy more fuel than they had intended to thus increasing sales both wet and dry.
"I have four quad pumps and eight media screens plus one HGV pump but no screen.
"Everyone has different issues on site. I chose three-phase pumps so I had the forecourt completely re-wired. I also had to alter the pipework in the pump island and install new cradles for the pumps. I closed the site for two days to do this.
"I did all the planning and employed all the contractors because it was cheaper for me to do so, but Tokheim could have done all the installation.
"The screens cost about £2,500 per pump and I expect payback to be two-to-three years for the whole package.
"I have complete control over my advertising, we create our own and then upload to the cloud. Then we download to the pumps. I can also use my symbol supplier’s adverts. The system gives me a wide choice of what I can display. For example, I can make each pump have different adverts, split the screens and have adverts set for different times/days of the week. The flexibility is great and all under my control.
My customers have responded well; they like the new stainless steel pumps and they like the ads and have said they distract them when filling and yes, they do buy from the shop.
"I am very pleased with the screens and we’re learning how to use all the facilities day by day. It’s just like having a new mobile phone and getting used to it. If you have an average size shop, it is a great tool for marketing."