True Specialists in Fuel Management
Since the acquisition of AFS Group, Gilbarco AFS has increased its presence across Africa to offer an unrivalled fuel management solution and accompanying services to the continent
Writer: Emily Jarvis
Project Manager: Arron Rampling
For AFS Group, the journey began in 1995 when it first brought a revolutionary technology to Southern Africa that would change the fuel and fleet industries. The FuelOmat technology was designed to securely authorise and control all fuel issued to fleet vehicles, thus minimising fuel losses and significantly increasing efficiencies and reducing costs associated with fuel. AFS deployed the technology in both retail and commercial applications, and had resounding successes in both market segments. This technology was specifically useful in the open cast mining environment, where large volumes of fuel are dispensed annually.
“We look to use technology through innovative software and cloud solutions to give customers a way to monitor not just their fuel and fuel losses, but also give them the ability to use the fuel information to drive productivity, efficiencies and to monitor fleet utilisation,” says Eoin O’Neill, General Manager of Global Mining at Gilbarco AFS.
An open cast mining environment usually has a high operating expenditure on fuel, which is often in excess of 30 percent of the total operating expense. Of this percentage, it is not uncommon to see around five percent in wastage or losses, depending on existing control measures. In any business, trimming large expenses such as fuel can be crucial to success. Gilbarco AFS has seen impressive results from the implementation of its solutions, and all the installed sites are managed to within 0.5 percent variance. This is approximately 10 times less fuel wastage or loss than before.
“On a large mining operation, this can translate to a saving of around $1.5 million per year. However, it is not just about recording this loss, but analysing the performance of the whole fleet of vehicles, monitoring variables such as driver behaviour, condition of the road and other operating conditions that help not only reduce loss but improve productivity,” emphasises O’Neill.
Currently, Gilbarco AFS manages in excess of 1.3 billion litres of fuel on the African continent annually, with more than 130,000 vehicles using its fuel management systems. In the mining industry, Gilbarco AFS have in excess of 250 in-field controllers controlling fuel issues and receipts and collecting data to transmit to a central server for validation and reporting.
Globally recognised parent company
Since 2013, Gilbarco AFS has been part of Gilbarco Veeder-Root, a global leader in the supply of fuel equipment solutions and technologies to the petroleum industry such as fuel dispensers, pumps, point of sale equipment and tank gauges. Headquartered in North Carolina, USA, the parent company has a strong global presence, with businesses in every part of the world and strongly believes in its motto: “Our customers fuel the world”.
“The Gilbarco AFS subsidiary was created to ensure that the business unit focused on providing fuel management solutions that would control and monitor fuel levels and provide accurate information to their customers. We also identified the mining industry as a potential high growth sector for these fuel management solutions,” added O’Neill.
In addition to the AFS acquisition, Gilbarco Veeder-Root also acquired the Navman Wireless telematics company, completing the solution offering by including the ability to offer fleet management via telematics.
“AFS Group was a distributor of Gilbarco Veeder-Root products and had developed a full featured, end-to-end fuel management solution, tailored specifically for the mining industry. This solution capability and existing market penetration was a big draw card for Gilbarco Veeder-Root and the solution fitted well with the company’s plans,” says O’Neill.
Gilbarco Veeder-Root is now expanding its product range in order to bring a broader solution portfolio to South Africa, a market in which the parent company did not previously participate. “We look forward to fully integrating Gilbarco AFS into the Group,” he confirms.
Total fuel and fleet management
Gilbarco AFS has become the leading solution provider for end-to-end fuel management and fleet management solutions across the retail, commercial and mining sectors. “We identified early on that Gilbarco AFS needed to bring something innovative to the market, and we differentiated ourselves by accompanying our product with site maintenance services as well as managed information services,” comments Sean McQuade, Marketing Manager of Global Mining at Gilbarco AFS.
“Many of our competitor products are installed and handed over to the customer to manage. Our experience and research indicated that there was a high failure rate in adoption of systems deployed under this model, and the system eventually becomes defunct. Consequently we changed our business model to include the complete solution offering, especially maintenance and information services. The key to this success has been a highly motivated operations team and an advanced information management system. Gilbarco AFS continues to invest heavily in advanced information systems to capture, process and report on fuel and fleet data,” says McQuade.
By paying attention to the customer needs and previous industry trends, adoption of Gilbarco AFS systems has been made as easy as possible. Now with the global footprint, financial support and backing from Gilbarco Veeder-Root, the company is now rolling out its solutions across further markets outside of Southern Africa.
O’Neill adds: “We now have a presence in the Central Africa region, deploying into five mines in the DRC. Our strategy is to enter new countries to assist in developing the mineral resource there in a sustained way. We are currently looking at opportunities not only in Zambia but also further afield in countries such as Botswana, Tanzania, Ghana and Burkina Faso.”
Centre of Excellence
To support the African and global expansion of its fuel and fleet management solution, Gilbarco AFS has established a Centre of Excellence for mining solutions and technologies in South Africa.
“From product, solution and technical support perspectives, we will look to South Africa for our development, training and support. We have chosen South Africa as there are a significant number of mining houses that operate here, and the Gilbarco AFS team has built very strong technical and customer intimacy in the mining industry. Combining this with Gilbarco Veeder- Root’s technical and customer focus in the oil sector and Gilbarco’s global presence will help us to expand into other parts of Africa and other key markets across the globe. We are already seeing traction with the strategy,” highlights O’Neill.
To secure long term growth, Gilbarco AFS will continue to expand its geographical footprint but also look into other innovative solutions it can offer the mining and fuel management industry. “We will do this through our increased presence rather than simply growing organically. Mining is a global business and our concept of fuel and fleet can improve productivity for everyone in the business,” he confirms.
“Attending this year’s Mining Indaba confirmed to us that commodity prices are driving mining organisations to refocus on ways to be more efficient where possible. By controlling outgoings such as the management of fuel and fleet via our complete end-to-end solution, it is clear that Gilbarco AFS plays a key part in the future of this industry,” concludes O’Neill.