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Technology allows for more customer-friendly fuel formulas

The traditional filling station with a shop that sells cigarettes, sweets and motor oil has had its day. Filling stations are constantly changing. In this process two trends can be distinguished. Either the stations are unmanned: their number has quadrupled in the past ten years to more than half of the stations. Or, they are turning into complete service & hospitality concepts, where fuel is only part of the offer. In both cases, entrepreneurs respond to changing customer demands. Advanced technology gives them the opportunity to do so in all safety, while also making a profit.

Filling stations abide by the same rules as any other retailer: you have to put customer demands and customer experience first. But they are also subject to several complicating factors. The energy transition, for example, is increasing the range of new products, such as fast electric charging, LNG and Green Gas. On the other hand, safety is also a crucial factor. Explosive substances are handled at a filling station, while there is a lot of movement of both vehicles and pedestrians. The prices also become dynamic: at some stations, you can fill up cheaper, depending on the time of the day. In order to control all these factors, the work processes of future filling stations need to be smartly interfaced. This requires specific technology, like PumpWatch.

From safety to process control

At present 5,000 filling stations use PumpWatch, BigBrother's data-driven CCTV system. PumpWatch has been the standard in security for 20 years, but it does far more than that. By linking transactions to license plates, paying for a different pump can be avoided and registered fuel thieves can be recognised even before the pump is released. As the cashier gets an overview of all camera images associated with a transaction, he no longer needs a physical view of the forecourt. This allows the owner to arrange his shop as he wishes.

From process control to operational excellence

In addition, the link between license plate and transaction gives an insight into the customer’s buying behaviour. Does he also use the car wash? Could a special offer tempt him to do so? Moreover, the transaction itself can be made easier. For instance, license plate recognition enables automatic payments by app. An extremely convenient service that can also be offered at unmanned filling stations. Furthermore, PumpWatch adds data about the make, type and colour of the car to the licence plate information. As a result, (damage) claims can be handled quickly by searching on the basis of all these characteristics. Also, filling stations can be much better monitored remotely. PumpWatch actively reports incidents or risky situations: varying from a smoking man at a pump to a potentially fraudulent employee. Some risks may even be predicted by the system.

Ready for tomorrow

Just like PumpWatch supported the transition of filling stations over the past years, PumpWatch NEW is preparing filling stations for tomorrow’s customers by offering even better business control, by advanced automation of processes and by using algorithms and machine learning. At a time when not much can be earned from fuel and customers make higher demands on services, PumpWatch NEW makes the difference between throwing in the towel and flourishing.

22 January 2019