Are you surrounded by mountains of paper? Are you confident all of your data is accurate? Is it likely the reports in front of you may change tomorrow? Are your processes as streamlined and efficient as they could be? Are you struggling with either an old system that fails or a new system without current data feeds?
In an industry where fuel department costs will make or break an airline, creative process improvements can save millions of dollars for airlines, oil companies, brokers and into-plane service providers. Paper processes utilized today have facilitated fueling aircraft for decades; fueling staff accept the time it takes to overcome known problems and work it into their daily operations. But today, information technologies (IT) and fuels management systems can provide a means to make these processes more accurate and more efficient, ultimately reducing operating costs and improving on-time performance at the ramp.
What is wrong with paper tickets for aircraft fueling?
The paper process of fueling begins with purchasing pre-printed tickets. Fueling staff write the required flight and fuel load information on the pre-printed tickets and distribute these to fuel agents in order for the flight to be fueled. After the flight is fueled, the ticket is distributed to typically five separate locations where the data is often manually entered by different people into multiple systems. Reports are then generated and reviewed to assure everyone has entered the same data into each system. After this long, exhaustive effort of paper chasing and data entry, airlines, oil companies, brokers and fuel farm managers can finally process and evaluate the data, send out invoices and adjust book inventories.
This process is prone to many errors. From the operations side, paper processes are creating unnecessary flight delays every day. From the administrative side, paper processes are delaying crucial data delivery by days and weeks.
Daily Fuel Operations Errors:
- Distributing paper tickets and fuel updates in a timely manner
- Fueling the wrong aircraft
- Writing the incorrect fuel order on the paper ticket
- Mathematical error from manual calculations
- Pilot cannot find the paper ticket delivered to the flight deck
Daily Fuel Accounting Errors:
- Tickets not being available for data entry because they were misplaced, lost, destroyed and sometimes not complete
- Handwriting is often illegible and requires extra time and effort to understand or confirm
- Incorrect data entry by multiple people
In today’s industry, every unit of fuel (gallon or liter) counts and should be correctly accounted for. Airlines and service providers are asking what they can do to reduce delays due to fueling operations. What happens to fuel inventories when lost tickets are never found? Are fuel transactions and inventory data changed after the month-end closeout?
These fueling and fuel accounting problems are hindering the industry and can be eliminated through process improvements utilizing automation, fuel management software and electronic fuel ticketing. An example of automation improvements for one major airline involved the implementation of a complete fuels management system. The system addressed each of these significant errors and, in turn, reduced fuel related delays by ten-fold, as well as saved over $1 million per year in operations costs.
The Paperless Electronic Fuel Ticket Solution
Information technology and automation in the aviation industry has evolved considerably during the last 20 years. In the early 1980s, Synergix, a UK-based company was one of the early pioneers of aviation software. Their systems printed flight information onto fuel tickets in the ramp office. These pre-printed tickets were used by the fuel agents to manually record completed fuel transaction data. The complete ticket information would then be entered manually back into a ramp-office computer system for accounting purposes. Later, some airlines adopted similar systems and made small developments, such as automatically adding fuel load information to the printed ticket. However, such systems never provided a completely integrated and automated solution for fuels management.
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