Bill VandenBrook, Madison's motor equipment superintendent, points out the pump module, which is part of the Automated Fuel Management System.
Entry errors

In a perfect world, it might have worked without problems. But after a long shift, a tired operator would enter a dyslexic mileage entry (transposed numbers) at one fueling. All would be right until the dispensing software would prevent fueling at the next fill-up when an accurate reading was lower than earlier inaccurately entered readings.

Not only did these errors shut down fuelings, they necessitated overriding the system. Errors affected PM scheduling and evaluating vehicle condition. The old system was also open to fuel theft which, while rare, did occasionally happen.

Bill VandenBrook, Madison's motor equipment superintendent, and Bruce Nelson, the city's fleet services program supervisor, realized that replacement for the aging system was needed. Nelson's task was finding one which could eliminate human error.

After examining several alternatives displayed at meetings of the Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC) and the Association of Equipment Management Professionals (AEMP), Nelson recommended the Automated Fuel Management System (AFMS) from E.J. Ward, Inc. (

Little operator input

The Ward system meets Madison's key criteria. It required little or no input from operators. It has the ability to tie into vehicle “black boxes.” And it has the ability for customization to allow extensive reporting options.

The AFMS consists of a vehicle module and a pump module. The vehicle module is wired to the engine computer, where it can obtain data on miles and/or hours operated. The interface is a ring around the filler neck.

The pump module consists of a CANceiver, a device on the pump handle that queries the vehicle module and collects data. The data is transmitted by the CANceiver to the Ward Fuel Control Terminal (FTC). Each time the vehicle is fueled, transaction data is sent to the FCT and then downloaded to the fleet computer system.

Nelson worked with Ward to ensure that the city's reporting and control needs were met. Madison's system went online May 1. “Entry errors have been eliminated and we haven't had any thefts,” says VandenBrook. “That allowed us to better evaluate our equipment, meet maintenance schedules better, and control fuel usage better.”

Paul Abelson if a former director of the Technology and Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Association.

Read the related article, "...And an Eye on Storage Tanks".