Rising Fuels Costs Increase Theft Risk for Distributors and Their Customers

Fuel Cost and Theft

By Carolina Ruiz • Published July 27, 2022 • 4 minute read

The perfect combination of post-pandemic and geo-political issues are driving fuel costs up. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, lockdowns lifted in China, and rising demand for gas and oil as the world emerges from the pandemic are all contributing to the record prices impacting everyone.

In fact, the price of regular gas is now averaging over $5, smashing the previous record from 2008. And the situation is worsening. The spike in price for gas, oil and diesel is having widespread impact across all markets, causing businesses to raise prices on customers or even pull back on investments. Soaring costs are putting a strain on people and businesses, but it’s also causing a spike in fuel theft. Thieves are drilling into tanks to siphon gas to profit from today’s prices, creating another concern for truck drivers to add on to their list of worries.

While this can feel overwhelming, distributors have an opportunity to help themselves, their drivers and customers avoid these situations. With IoT-enabled technology, they can quickly identify irregular patterns in tank fuel levels and detect instances of theft by monitoring the miles per gallon of vehicles between fueling events.

How IoT technology helps prevent fuel theft and leaks

How, exactly, can technology help prevent fuel theft and identify tank leaks? Industrial IoT or “internet of things” technology enables devices and objects to communicate with one another by sending and receiving data. In the transportation industry, this level of communication is especially important for tank monitoring, as it allows tanks to “talk” with the distributor.

With an IoT-enabled liquid level monitoring system, for example, tanks will tell distributors when they need to be refilled. Importantly, they don’t wait to communicate when tanks are depleted but when they’re running low. This ensures tanks are never out-of-stock, which can result in lost sales, and can drain productivity and profits by causing distributors to fulfill emergency orders from customers that disrupt their normal delivery routes.

But again, there are more concerns today than just an empty tank—additional risks include inventory shrinkage from theft or spills from tank leaks, which distributors and their customers cannot afford as prices continue to soar.

Here’s how IoT technology helps address those challenges:

  • Tank leaks: IoT tank monitoring technology continuously reads tank levels and turns the data into actionable insights. This allows distributors to better understand a customer’s fuel patterns so they can identify when something is off or abnormal in real-time. When there’s a leak in a tank, they can then quickly spot it and inform their customer, helping to avoid fuel waste while also expediting the process for fixing the leak. The true benefit of IoT is when all systems work together to avoid any unanticipated issues and improve overall efficiency.
  • Fuel theft: IoT sensors support distributors by transmitting data to portals where users have a real-time, accurate record of inventory to detect instances of unauthorized use. For example, when delivering the product, the sensors can communicate directly with the flow meters of tankers to capture data and provide a digital workflow for drivers. The smart device can directly control and verify the number of gallons dispensed at each site. Additionally, distributors that provide mobile onsite fueling services can enter odometer readings of customer vehicles into the device for the software to then detect instances of theft by monitoring the miles per gallon of vehicles between fueling events.

In an environment that’s increasingly unpredictable and chock full of risk, it’s time for distributors to embrace IoT technology to help keep issues for them and their customers at bay.

Don’t overlook the power of IoT for tank monitoring during an era of record fuel prices. Contact SkyBitz to learn about our SmartTank platform that combines real-time tank monitoring with order scheduling and delivery route optimization.