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Tips for Enforcing Proper Fuel Card Use and Preventing Employee Theft.

Posted by Wilmar, Inc.


Fuel theft occurs when drivers use their fuel cards to take more fuel than is needed for their trucks and routes. They might be filling up cars brought by friends, stowing an extra fuel tank under the truck, or using their fuel card off-hours for a personal vehicle. The fact of the matter is that the temptation to steal fuel is high, especially with prices as they have been. Most fleet managers need policies in place to catch and prevent fuel theft.

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Fortunately, modern fuel cards and telematic technology provide the tools you need.

Trust In Data, Not People

The first step to creating a solid fuel theft prevention system is to trust numbers over people. Your drivers may be good people, but even good people might abuse a fuel card system if the temptation is too great.

Instead, don't make it personal. Make it policy. Start collecting data and acting on the data you collect. Fuel theft and improper fuel card use is a numeric matter that can be resolved with tracking.

Establish Fuel Transparency Rules and Make them Clear

Many people start on the path to fuel theft because they see a policy gray-area. If your fleet does not have clear anti-theft policies, drivers may not even feel they are abusing their power. 

However, a clear and inarguable policy is something else. Those who might take advantage of a gray area while taxing "Big Corp" will not be so comfortable directly disobeying an order to properly use their fuel card. This doubles down when you add automatic transparency so that any blindspots disappear.

Here are the four fuel theft policies that should be made absolutely clear to your fleet team:

  1. Fuel Theft is Forbidden
  2. Fuel Cards Can Only Be Used for Fuel
  3. Fuel Use and Purchases Will Be Closely Tracked
  4. Fuel Theft Penalties Will Be Enforced

Begin Closely Tracking Fuel Card Use

Create or employ a system to closely track fuel card use by driver and start visualizing trends. Identify who is using much more fuel than the others and when those charges are made to the fuel card.

The right data visualization will help to create transparency, removing numeric blind-spots so that fuel theft can be easily spotted and addressed immediately. Some data analysis programs can also help you red-flag clear indicators of fuel theft in fuel card data.

Do the Math: How Much Fuel Does Each Truck and Route Require

Know how much fuel your fleet needs. Determine the average mileage of each truck and how much fuel it typically takes to make specific routes in your service area. Anyone who is purchasing significantly more fuel than is needed for their routes can be immediately identified as a likely fuel thief.

Use Telematics to Detect Fuel Tank Levels and Create Historic Records

Modern telematics can tell you all sorts of useful information about a vehicle. Primarily, what the vehicle knows about itself. Fuel tank levels are something that telematics can convey. You can remain aware of how much fuel is in each truck's tank, when it is refueled, and how much fuel is needed to top up a truck before the next route.

Anyone who purchases fuel when their tank is full or who purchases more fuel than could fit in the empty space in the tank will be flagged.

Place Controls on Fuel Cards

Some fuel card programs will allow you to place specific controls on the card. For example, you can set a card that will only buy fuel. Snack purchases at the convenience store will need to come from a different account. You can also set a refuelling limit in gallons or price, placing the limit slightly above your calculated fuel consumption for each route. This will significantly reduce the chance that fleet workers are able to buy more than they should with each fuel card.

Establish Set Times, Places, and Quantities for Refuelling

You can also reduce the temptation or opportunity for refueling by biulding refueling into your fleet route planning. If you know how much fuel it takes to make each route, you can also tell your drivers when and where to stop for fuel to get the best prices, ensure tanks are full, and know exactly when refueling will take place.

When all or most refueling is scheduled, off-hours refueling will stand out like a sore thumb.

Enforce Consequences for Detected Fuel Theft

Lastly, create and enforce consequences for fuel theft. Once you have the numbers, you will be able to approach fuel thieves without doubt and exact consequences using concrete proof of wrongdoing.

In many cases, a fuel thief will stop if they realize that their actions are no longer unseen and will be officially sanctioned.

Improve Your Fleet Management with Wilmar

Wilmar Inc is dedicated to helping fleet managers build, manage, and supply commercial fleets. From fuel card partners to fleet management services, we will help you optimize efficiency and solve everyday problems to make your fleet the best it can be. Contact us today to learn more.

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Topics: Fleet Management, Telematics, Misc


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