Giving us an indication of the shape of things to come, BP and Mercedes Trucks have successfully tested the first digital in-truck fuel payment system in the UK, after running a successful pilot trial with Wren Kitchens.
The new app-based system, bp In-Truck Pay, makes fuel purchasing and management faster, more efficient and more secure for both truck drivers and fleet managers. The app has been developed for the latest Mercedes-Benz Actros, which can be specified with Multimedia Cockpit, Interactive. This incorporates the Truck App Portal, an open platform that can be used by fleet managers to assign apps to their vehicles via their Multi-Touch Display.
Automatically relaying purchases, mileage and other data back to base, In-Truck Pay eliminates errors, provides accurate information to managers and removes the need for drivers to enter mileage themselves.
bp In-Truck requires just three simple steps – drivers confirm the site, unlock the pump and refuel.
The truck directly logs the fuel transaction – paying for the fuel itself. Drivers don’t need to pay in the shop or to enter data. And there is no need for fuel cards, removing complications from managing lost or damaged cards and the risk of fraudulent card use.
When Mercedes-Benz Trucks UK launched its new Actros range in 2019, it polled customers to ask them what type of app they would like developers to offer that could help their businesses. Top of the list was ‘solutions that address refuelling issues.’ This is what bp In-Truck Pay does.
In the pilot trial, Mercedes-Benz truck customer Wren Kitchens used bp In-Truck Pay with 11 vehicles from its fleet.
Lee Thompson-Halls, National Fleet Manager for Wren Kitchens, said: “We strive to always be ahead of the game, and trialling innovative initiatives like this means we can potentially drive progress within our business, and, ultimately, the logistics sector as a whole.
“The trials have shown an increase in efficiency, with savings of approximately five minutes per transaction. When you add that up over time, it will have a hugely positive impact on our business, which delivers over 100,000 kitchens per year across the UK. Not only that, but it will also be beneficial for our drivers, by creating a safer and quicker way to pay for fuel.”
Richard Skidmore, Head of Customer Service Delivery, Mercedes-Benz Trucks UK, commented: “Connectivity is integral to the strategy of Mercedes-Benz Trucks. bp In-Truck Pay demonstrates perfectly how the Truck App Portal can amplify the benefit of running Mercedes-Benz trucks by helping customers to save money, increase efficiency and retain drivers. We are proud of the part our Connectivity team has played in the development of this app that has the potential to transform the way in which operators may purchase their fuel.”
The pilot – case study
Following ‘proof of concept’ testing by bp and Mercedes-Benz Trucks in autumn 2020, Wren Kitchens embraced the opportunity to pilot the new app.
The UK’s number one kitchen retailer is committed to innovation, and to promoting efficiency, safety and environmental compatibility within its transport operation.
For the pilot, which began in May, bp In-Truck Pay was installed on 11 of Wren Kitchens’ Actros trucks – six tractor units used to distribute quartz worktops from its headquarters in Barton-upon-Humber, and five 18-tonners based at a depot in Tipton in the West Midlands, that deliver kitchens to customers’ homes.
Wren Kitchens buys from bp all but a tiny percentage of the fuel needed to run its fleet of 300 trucks, which operate from a network of seven locations nationwide. Approximately 100 of these vehicles are Mercedes-Benz trucks.
The operator worked closely with development teams from bp and Mercedes-Benz Trucks UK on the implementation of the new system, and provided feedback on its operation, with particular focus on data availability and quality, and driver opinion.
The feedback received was resoundingly positive. Wren Kitchens’ National Fleet Manager Lee Thompson-Halls commented: “Going card-less has saved us so much time and trouble, not only at the fuel station but also on the admin side. It has ensured that we’re working with clear, accurate data, and is also where we need to be from a security perspective.
“Our team of drivers do a challenging job, so anything we can do to make their lives easier and less stressful has to be a good thing, not least because it will help to make them that bit safer at the wheel.”
One driver particularly appreciated being able to remain close to his truck throughout the process of refuelling late at night and in the early hours of the morning, rather than having to walk across to the kiosk to pay, then check round the tractor unit and its trailer on his return.
“Our drivers have found the app very straightforward and easy to use, and they like the idea of being at the forefront of new technology,” reported Mr Thompson-Halls. “A lot of them are looking at the bigger picture and see this as a development that will help drivers of the future, as well as themselves.”