As competition in the forecourt sector grows ever more intense, growing numbers of dealers are doing the sums on replacing their old pumps and deciding it’s the right option.
"The importance of investing in modern reliable pumps cannot be overstated," explains Ramsay MacDonald, retail director of Certas Energy.
"Fast, easy-to-use pumps reduce queuing and increase throughput. New pumps improve the overall appearance of a forecourt and provide improved reliability, reduced down time and greater dispensing accuracy."
He adds: "That alone can represent a significant cost saving. Having the flexibility to offer all relevant grades, including higher margin premium grades such as Gulf Endurance, is a revenue booster. Endurance may account for only 6% of fuel sales but in terms of cash margin because of the pricing differential can account for 20% of a site’s fuels gross margin."
He points out that forecourt pumps also present a prime space to advertise forecourt promotions and shop offers. With the highest specification models this can be through screens mounted on the pumps, but low-tech methods using advertising on the actual nozzles can have plenty of impact too.
He says: "You have a captive audience for a minute or more so make the most of the opportunity. It’s also a great medium for sites to build goodwill by promoting local events and charities on pump nozzles and splashguards. From our own pump advertising experiences on the Certas Energy company estate, we are seeking a dealer-friendly solution that works effectively across the entire Gulf network."
One company providing advertising on nozzles is T4 Media with its AdNozzles. CEO Greg Anyon comments: "AdNozzles are an unmissable and highly accountable way to target motorists every time they fill up at a petrol station. The advert provides a regular change of scenery at the pump, makes the nozzle look smarter and provides valuable product grade information for the motorist. We work primarily with brands that are relevant to the locality, further cementing the forecourt’s ties within its community.
"A fill typically takes two to three minutes and the motorist will see the message for around 52 seconds. There is nothing on the planet that places advertising in the hand of the consumer in the way that AdNozzles do."
When it comes to pumps offering higher-tech screen options, Pedro Pacheco, Gilbarco Veeder-Root’s marketing director, says: "We have seen what’s happened in US where multimedia is major. Operators have learned how to use it to their advantage to increase revenue in the store and raise awareness from the end customer about promotions and leverage that very well.
"In Europe this will come more and more as earlier adopters see the results and others will follow."
Tokheim sales director, Adrian Beeby, is also a strong advocate for media screens on pumps. He says it used to be a niche market but a lot more sites are now taking them. Beeby says Tokheim already offers the biggest screens on pumps offering sound and vision, with bigger to come, and that its system is the most versatile.
It has a cloudbased media content management system enabling the dealer to control which content is played on a specific date, time, dispenser and even grade of fuel being dispensed. It also has separate modes depending on whether the pump is idle, a car has just pulled up, it is being used, or dispensing has just finished.
Range of solutions
Gilbarco Veeder-Root’s SK700 II pumps offer a full range of solutions for dealers. They can dispense up to five different grades and provide the option to not only install in the factory but retrofit payment solutions from Gilbarco Veeder-Root and other third parties as well.
The latest pump launch from Gilbarco Veeder-Root is the Frontier AdBlue Dispensers for cars and trucks. Currently, less than 5% of sites in Europe offer AdBlue, but the latest diesel cars are designed to stop once they run out of it. Consequently, drivers of these vehicles are much more likely to become regular customers if you offer AdBlue, as they need to top up the AdBlue tank after every fifth or sixth visit.
Pacheco says: "This could give early adopting dealerships a key advantage over competitors. According to findadblue.com, the number of European forecourts offering AdBlue is increasing by 17% per year, so make sure you are not the last one to offer it."
The Frontier AdBlue dispensers can be installed as a standalone unit or integrated with a diesel dispenser. Models range from one hose/one grade to four hoses/two grades with up to four displays. They have a hose heating system as AdBlue freezes at -11°C.
Pacheco says the AdBlue solution can be retrofitted into existing stations, with full integration into the SK700 II range or as a standalone pump such as the Frontier. If a site already has suitable underground tanks they can be used, otherwise, he says: "If they want a quick and easy plug and play solution, there is an above-ground storage tank option which can hold up to 10,000 litres of AdBlue."
A key feature is the ability to dispense both diesel and AdBlue at the same time. Pacheco says: "This increases the traffic flow because customers are done in far less time. For sites with a lot of sales this can be an important feature."
Beeby also believes dealers should be considering introducing AdBlue dispensers for the new generation of diesel cars, because the volume of demand will mean it will not be viable to supply sufficient AdBlue in bottles. He says: "If you are putting AdBlue in an HGV lane then run the pipework to your car pumps so the provision is there. If you don’t have any AdBlue, put in the provision, because it will come."
Tokheim offers a full range of dispensers with its Quantium pumps, and Beeby says the Quantium 510 E2 multi product dispenser is a cost-effective model that is selling strongly. But the company is also investing in dispensers for alternative fuels such as CNG and LNG and has provided several of the hydrogen dispensers in use in the UK, so it has pumps to cover any needs.
Pye Motors Petrol Station near Morecambe, Lancashire, recently replaced its pumps, choosing Tokheim equipment, and experienced immediate benefits, says forecourt manager Mark Kershaw. He explains: "Our pumps were old and slow. We took the advice of our Certas Energy area manager and re-pumped with Tokheim Quantiums; three 510 quads for retail and two 310s for our HGV business.
"The changeover was very smooth, the pumps arrived on site in full Gulf livery and were fitted over three days with the forecourt operational throughout."
He adds: "The new pumps are easier to handle and fuel is dispensed much faster. The site is now aesthetically more pleasing and sales are up. Former customers are returning and existing customers, particularly our HGV drivers, have welcomed the investment." He expects the payback period on this capital project to be less than four years.
Janu Patel, owner of Jet’s New North Road site in Ilford, Essex, also opted for Tokheim when he re-pumped his site. He comments: "We replaced all four existing pumps about six months ago. Before the replacement work, two of the four pumps were positioned very close to each other, which meant that customers could only really use one pump at a time.
"We chose Tokheim as our partner for the project following an introduction from our fuel supplier, Jet. Tokheim managed the whole process including adding a larger canopy, building two new pump islands and all the electrical work. Before we just had one pump for diesel but we now have six nozzles on our two front pumps (offering all three grades) and four nozzles on the other two pumps.
In total the installation process took two weeks but the site only had to close for fuel sales for one week as Tokheim helped to keep two pumps open during one of the weeks. The shop remained open throughout. Janu says: "I was very impressed by Tokheim’s support during the design and installation process. By extending the canopy and moving the two pumps that were close together further apart, access to the forecourt and pumps is much better. Customers are very happy as the new pumps not only look much better, but are much faster and easier to access. Our fuel volume has increased by nearly 10% since installing the new pumps so the upgrade was definitely the right decision."
Petrotec is a forecourt equipment manufacturer with its headquarters in Portugal, and has been supplying equipment to the UK market since 2005. Petrotec UK’s director Miguel Silva explains that Petrotec initiated sales in the UK through distributors, but since 2013 it has established Petrotec UK, a group-owned company, that sells, installs and supports Petrotec and third-party equipment in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
Petrotec equipment has been installed at more than 600 locations in the UK from Wick in the north of Scotland to Cornwall in the south of England. He says the majority of installations are with major retailers, which use Petrotec’s equipment because of its quality and high-throughput features.
He adds: "Our products keep being launched regularly, but not all segments are on sale in the UK. The dispensers, outdoor payment terminals (OPTs), remote services and storage solutions are the latest introductions in the UK. The most visible is probably the new Progress Line Fuel Dispenser.
"It is new and innovative dispensing equipment which is allowing us to help our customers to improve their business profitability by its precision and up-time, and at the same time improve the end users’ fuelling experience."
Wayne Fueling Systems has completed its new Helix Fuel Dispenser range with the addition of Back 2 Back (B2B) models to include special fuel grades such as LPG and AdBlue. The Helix range allows for up to five products and 10 hoses with the ability to integrate payment systems from Wayne or third-party suppliers.
Barry Onions, sales manager UK & Ireland, says: "The new Wayne Helix range of pumps has a style for every site and customer preference. Feedback from customers installing Helix has been extremely positive with many commenting on how much their customers enjoy the experience of using their fuel dispensers.
"The lower position of the user displays means pumps are not intimidating for a customer and allow good vision for site staff while customers are refuelling. Our customers have many differing requests for options on their dispensers from Automatic Temperature Compensation (ATC) and Stage Two vapour to integrated outdoor payment and media. Helix has the ability to be configured for every user’s preference."
Shahiduzzaman Biswas, owner at Jet’s Broomhill Service Station in Downham Market, Norfolk, has recently installed Wayne pumps. He comments: "We needed to invest in new pumps as the previous ones were starting to cost a lot of money to repair and were losing stock through internal leaks. Last November we replaced four of our pumps with four brand new Helix 6000 series pumps.
"The new pumps deliver unleaded, diesel and super unleaded. We didn’t need to upgrade the other two pumps, which supply LPG, red diesel, kerosene and paraffin."
He says he looked at a number of pump manufacturers, but he was familiar with Wayne Fueling Systems as he already had its pumps installed at his Jet Four Winds Service Station in Boston, Lincolnshire, and was very happy with their quality.
The installation was undertaken by NFD Forecourts, a company Shahiduzzaman has worked with for a number of years. He says: "The installation process went very smoothly. NFD Forecourts took out and replaced two pumps at a time so we didn’t need to close for fuel sales at all during the work, which took around 10 days.
"The new pumps are without doubt the most advanced in the local area and incorporate the very latest technology. As well as Automatic Temperature Compensation (ATC), we opted for on-pump media displays so we can change adverts about our promotions and offers as often as we want to. One of the pumps features a pay-at-pump facility, which is very popular with our customers. The pumps look great we chose a stainless steel finish so they are very sleek."
He adds: "Our customers have reacted positively to the new pumps and are very impressed with the speed of fuel flow compared to our previous pumps. We’re finding there’s much less wet-stock loss and the pumps are clean and easy to maintain."
In 2015, AW&D Hammonds in Halesworth, Suffolk, undertook a large-scale investment programme which included replacing its entire pump range.
Owner Louise Hammond says: "The previous ones were over 20 years old and badly in need of updating as they were slow, noisy and parts were becoming unavailable if they needed maintenance.
"We managed to reduce the number of pumps on the forecourt by increasing the number of nozzles on each pump. Previously we had four pumps with 11 nozzles whereas now we have two pumps with 12 nozzles. The pump islands are shorter, enabling us to reclaim more open space on the forecourt.
"We chose Tokheim as our supplier, having visited Tokheim’s factory in Dundee when we attended Jet’s 2014 dealer conference in Gleneagles. Jet arranged this visit, which was very useful as it made us realise how much pump technology has moved on over the past 20 or so years since our previous pumps were installed.
"We opted to hand over the entire installation process to Tokheim, which removed the old pumps, undertook the groundwork, replaced some of the pipework, installed two new Tokheim Quantum 610 pumps with Automatic Temperature Compensation (ATC), managed the configuration, undertook all the electrical work and signed it all off once installation was complete.
"The pumps were out of action for four and a half days but our shop remained open throughout and Tokheim simply worked around our customers. As with any major pump refurbishment, there will always be hiccups and we did have a couple of those but Tokheim went out of their way to get us back up and running as quickly as possible.
"The benefits are manifold: the pumps are much more attractive to look at, the fuel flow is significantly faster and quieter, and the layout of the pump islands makes the whole forecourt much more accessible. All the nozzles have retractable hoses so customers can pull up on either side. We’ve found the new pumps to be more reliable and they don’t harbour dirt as much as our previous ones did. Customer feedback has been very positive, with many commenting on the speed of fuel flow and overall improved forecourt experience."