Amid budget cuts and economic uncertainties, strict management of operating costs in school districts has become increasingly important. We sat down with Bobby Hayes, domestic sales manager at OPW Fuel Management Systems in Hodgkins, Illinois, to discuss how school districts can increase their fiscal transparency and protect their fuel assets by investing in fuel management equipment.
School Transportation News: How many school districts and school transportation companies is OPW currently working with? What experience does OPW bring to the school transportation market?
Bobby Hayes: OPW has several generations of fuel control systems installed at hundreds of school districts and school transportation companies across the United States and Canada. As a global leader in fully integrated fluid handling, management, monitoring and control solutions, we have assisted school districts — both large and small — manage not only their bus fuel but the fuel allocated for their entire vehicle fleet. OPW has developed a portfolio of fuel control equipment that has provided decades of reliable performance to school fleets — some school districts have been using our key-lock system since the 1960s.
STN: What type of equipment does OPW offer school districts and student transportation companies?
Hayes: OPW’s Petro Vend family of unattended fuel control systems — including fuel island terminals and site controllers — provide the hardware schools need to control their fuel while fuel management software significantly simplifies reporting and reconciliation procedures. Tank monitoring systems streamline compliance management, and we also deliver a variety of fueling activation solutions, including magnetic stripe, proximity cards and key fobs, electronic chip key and keypad entry. In some instances, we are able to utilize existing ID cards to activate the fuel system.
STN: What kind of benefits does this equipment provide to school district’s or bus contractor’s bottom lines?
Hayes: OPW fuel control systems provide authorization and accountability of fuel usage as well as complete transparency into a school district’s fuel budget. Our equipment tracks every gallon of fuel that goes into every fleet vehicle in the system, helping fleet administrators identify unauthorized fueling, prevent fuel theft and document fuel usage. Through instant visibility into fuel volumes and anticipated usage, transportation managers are able to optimize the timing and pricing of fuel deliveries. In addition, utilizing fuel management that can export vehicle mileage data to fleet management programs like RTA Fleet Management can optimize preventative maintenance programs.
STN: Why do you say the time is now to invest in fuel management equipment?
Hayes: Two reasons: Lower fuel prices reduce operating costs and fuel theft increases as fuel prices rise. Transportation directors have an opportunity right now to invest savings generated by low fuel costs back into their equipment. Upgrading select components within an existing system — such as adding state-of-the-art Microsoft SQL-enabled fuel management software that offers advanced reporting capabilities — can significantly improve a school district’s fuel control practices. Schools that invest now in order to tighten their fleet and fuel management programs for the future will be better positioned to weather high fuel prices.
STN: Thank you.