Editor’s Note: New Tech is a featured look at new technologies or radical adaptations of existing technology to provide solutions for the industry.
Petroleum retailers are forced to live with the vaporization in the open neck prover, ultimately resulting in fuel giveaway. The only possible solution to this problem was to calibrate the meter to a negative variance—an unethical solution by most standards.
What’s the bottom line? Open neck provers simply aren’t sufficient in today’s high volume fueling locations and are not accurate enough to prevent a significant amount of fuel from being given away to the consumer. They represent outdated technology that is hindering petroleum retailers from making a profit from gasoline sales. Retail gasoline as a category has extremely thin margins for the retailer.
In today’s competitive gasoline retail industry, open neck provers can make a significant impact on your business. Their inherent flaws (including vapor loss, flow rate issues, leveling problems, and inaccurate temperature corrections) can result in significant gas give-away. Typically, 2 to 3 cubic inches per 5 gallons of fuel.
That may not sound like much – until you convert it into dollars and cents. Today, in the United States we are pumping more fuel through fewer meters than ever before. As a result gasoline throughputs have increased. Assume you have a station that sells 125,000 gallons/month, but is losing 3 cubic inches per 5 gallons of fuel. That means your station is giving away 3,900 gallons of fuel per year! At an average cost of $2.50 per gallon, you are giving away $9,750 per year at that station.
But now assume that you don’t have a single station, but that you have a chain of 500 stations, all of which are losing at the same rate. Taken together, your chain of gas stations is giving away $4,875,000 of gas – almost $5 million in revenue – every year.
AccuMeasureTM, a new meter calibration solution, uses a patented technology developed and used throughout Canada for the last five years. Crompco, an industry leader in underground tank, line and vapor recovery testing, maintains exclusive U.S. rights to this technology and is bringing its benefits to retailers.
AccuMeasure is a closed loop mechanical prover that stops fuel shrink and profit loss. Instead of an open system that is vulnerable to human error and environmental impact, AccuMeasure is a completely closed system. The prover itself holds an exact volume as certified by the Michigan Department of Agriculture’s E.C. Heffron Metrology Laboratory to 1/100,000 of a gallon. During the meter proving process, air is purged from the system through a series of valves. A directional valve controls the direction of the piston in the prover, allowing fuel to be pumped into the prover until the prover is full at its exact volume.
Once a meter reading is taken from the dispenser, the meter and prover volumes are compared. If the comparison shows a meter reading that is different from the AccuMeasure measurement, the meter is re-calibrated. Because the prover is a known and certified quantity and cannot be impacted by vapor loss, temperature differentials, leveling problems or human error, the re-calibration can achieve an accuracy approaching true zero. In addition, service technicians verify repeatability when testing each meter upon completion of calibrating meters.
BENEFITS TO OWNERS AND RETAILERS
First, fuel shrink from meters that were out of calibration is eliminated so that fuel is no longer being given away. Retailers and owners immediately improve their bottom line and manage their station(s) with confidence. Increased revenue can easily mount into millions of dollars per year as meters are more accurately calibrated and persistent fuel losses are stopped.
Second, retailers and owners are practicing fair trade by calibrating their meters as close to zero as possible so compliance violations are reduced or eliminated. If meters are mis-calibrated so that they are giving away fuel, the owners are losing revenue. But if meters are mis-calibrated so that owners are unknowingly shorting customers, then they risk substantial fines and penalties from the state Weights & Measures. Some may hold the meters back by calibrating to a negative variance with an open neck prover to prevent retailers from giving away fuel. This practice is dangerous because it is often difficult to determine how much vaporization is taking place on the day the meter is being calibrated. A serious enough infraction could result in a temporary or permanent station shutdown.
Third, owners/retailers may be helping identify other hidden problems. Inaccurate meter calibration can mask other serious problems, including inventory discrepancies, tank and line leaks, delivery shortages and even theft. By calibrating meters within a fraction of true zero, owners have eliminated the meter as being the source of the problem.
AccuMeasure calibration is performed by licensed calibration specialists, who also demonstrate the process to Weights & Measurements officials in every state prior to marketing the service in that state.
Bob Dee is the executive vice president of sales & marketing for Crompco. Dee can be reached at: email@example.com or at: 800-646-3161.