Smart Terminals Employ Integrated Fuel Management Systems

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Challenges facing the container port industry include better safety performance, greater operational complexity (bigger ships), managing congestion risk and staying profitable though shipping line economic cycles.

Moving hundreds of millions of containers through port terminals requires numerous trucks, trains, ships, cargo handling equipment, barges, and marine workboats. Cargo handling equipment need to be powered. Diesel powered equipment is widespread and is predominantly used due to efficiency, performance, and reliability. Diesel powered equipment typically includes Ship-to-shore cranes (STS), Mobile cranes, Rail-mounted gantry cranes (RMGs), Rubber-tyred gantry cranes (RTGs), Reach stackers, Straddle carriers, Tractor-trailer units and Generators.

With the potential impact of high fuel prices, and it’s no surprise that container terminals are keen to develop cost-effective solutions. Terminals typically mitigate cost components, improve asset and process efficiency through analytics, and streamline the supply chain. Part of effectively achieving this means accurately monitoring, analysing, and managing fuel usage and consumption data.

Consumption patterns for diesel fuel differ across terminals and, to a significant extent, depend on the individual equipment configurations in each terminal. The share of diesel fuel in the energy matrix of container terminals ranges between 50% and 88%.

With ports using several million litres/year, diesel fuel costs represent a substantial portion of the operating costs. Savings of 8-10% on diesel usage can easily translate into millions. On a container terminal fuel is either being stored, used, or being misused through wastage, leakages, or theft. To effectively improve usage efficiency and mitigate misuse, the location and authenticity of every litre need be monitored automatically, from the moment it enters the terminal. Efficient fuel management is a serious business for port terminals across Africa. Smart terminals know this and employ automated Fuel Management Systems (FMS). Smart terminals also know that, if incorrectly designed or indifferently maintained, any FMS becomes redundant

For an FMS to be truly effective, accurate data needs to be acquired in real-time and integrated, or at least interfaced, with the terminal’s ERP platform. Failing this, the numerous benefits provided by an FMS, namely, reduced misuse losses, reduced vehicle mismanagement, improved preventative maintenance, increased productivity, and extended engine life, will not be realized.

“An effective FMS integrates, or interfaces, with port ERP systems.”

From savings through improved efficiencies and reduced wastage, a well-designed, appropriately implemented, and properly maintained FMS typically ‘pays back’ the initial investment in a period of months. There are many suppliers of fuel management systems, few however, accommodate the common operational challenges found in Africa. Our experience shows that systems designed for African conditions, by Africa-based companies, are far better suited to local and regional environments.

The PetroMan FMS engages with numerous ERP systems and has been successfully implemented in over 150 projects and/or maintenance sites throughout Africa, spanning from South Africa to Egypt. For the last 7 years PetroMan fuel management systems have managed container terminals in West and North Africa. In a recent FMS functionality audit of the leading seven FMS suppliers in Africa, conducted by a global oil company, PetroMan SA was ranked as the foremost FMS supplier across seven significant categories. PetroMan SA was the only FMS service provider to be rated at 100% in six of the categories and at 95% in the seventh category. The seven categories were software, hardware, global positioning systems, automatic tank gauging, vehicle fitting, data accuracy and data integration with ERP systems. PetroMan welcomes this ranking.

PetroMan FMS specifications are customized to provide a comprehensive management platform to port operations. Designs are purpose-prepared to enable dispensing control, allocation, and financial control of all fuel utilized at the sites. The system is fitted at fixed fuel stations and on fuel bowsers, as well as on vehicles and equipment. Workflow structures include each individual vehicle or equipment’s foreseen fuel consumption, function location, TCO code and, the individual compartment capacity as per the ERP specification.

PetroMan SA has made it their purpose to develop world-class hydrocarbon management systems that are both cost-effective and user-friendly. As an OEM, PetroMan SA markets its unique fuel management solutions under the PetroMan® brand, providing meticulous, real-time, measuring, and reporting that allows clients to intricately control hydrocarbon quality and usage. PetroMan SA continually develops and implements robust and up-to-date hardware and software platforms and has supplied FMS solutions to the mining sector, across Africa, since the 1990s.

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