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New 3D laser calibration machine to curb fuel fraud

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BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

WITH local fuel companies continuing to lose the commodity through fraud due to poorly calibrated tank gauges, one of the country’s indigenous companies, Garage and Forecourt (Pvt) Ltd, has introduced a new information communication technology (ICT)-based fuel storage calibration machine to help solve these challenges.

Many fuel companies in Zimbabwe are still relying on outdated manual systems to gauge and manage their stocks and on many occasions, they stop operations to manually check stock levels.
Due to this, they are recording reduced profit margins, have high operational costs and lose fuel to theft and fraud, among others.

But with the introduction of the 3D laser scan machine imported from Italy, these challenges are set to be addressed. The system uses state-of-the-art technology to calibrate and re-calibrate fuel tanks and marks a departure from companies’ reliance on volume-modelled calibrations, according to Garage and Forecourt managing director Omalli Jani.

Calibration and re-calibration are key aspects of the fuel industry as they assist in accounting for and management of stock.A well-calibrated tank gauge, according to experts, benefits the companies by providing them with accurate stock readings at the end of each day.

Poorly calibrated tank gauges may result in fuel losses going unnoticed, which could ultimately impact the profitability of the business.

Jani told NewsDay Business in an interview that the system had a fuel attendant tagging sensor that monitors sales done by each attendant regardless of the pump used and has an automatic tank gauging mechanism that monitors product level in the tank in the same fashion a fuel tank gauge works.

“We saw that there was a gap on the market, so we brought in new technology that calibrates the tank without the product. With the current situation on the market, fuel is an expensive product, so some customers are not able to calibrate their tanks because they are not able to fill up the tank only for the purpose of calibration,” he said.

Jani said for a fuel company to calibrate a 25 000-litre tank using the conventional method, it took about 10 hours, but with the new technology, it takes only an hour.

“And then, also the other part is accuracy of the solution. It’s like 99,99% accurate as compared to the conventional method. So this is the product that we are trying to promote. It’s a game-changer in the market,” Jani said.He said currently, they were working with local companies like Flow Petroleum and Total.

“The plan is we should work with other companies as well. That’s our expansion plan,” he said. The new equipment costs about US$60 000.The company has about 36 employees with the plans to employ more.

Going forward, Jani said: “Our plan is that in the next five years we want to make sure that oil companies and others have embraced technology in the fuel industry.”

Established in 2006, the company specialises in garage and fuel handling equipment. The directors are Jani and Lucky Mlalazi.

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