Fueling Up with RFID

8/6/2012

For the last 30 years, RFID (radio frequency identification) technology has been finding its way into just about everything—from library books and automated tolling passes to shipping containers and retail tags. Now, more and more it can even be found at the fuel pump.

Just last week, Love’s Travel Stops, www.loves.com, completed its first successful live customer transaction using RFID cardless fueling technology at their Pauls Valley, Okla. location. The company, which has been using the system in its own fuel tanker fleet for the last year, plans to equip its entire network of 292 travel stops by September.

The technology, developed by Brentwood, Tenn.-based Comdata, www.comdata.com, uses RFID to automate the fueling process by installing low-cost RFID tags in professional drivers’ vehicles. Working together with software from QuikQ, www.quikq.com, the RFID equipment detects a truck’s RFID tags in the fueling lane and turns on the dispenser wirelessly, with little or no driver data input. Pumps are automatically turned off after a truck leaves the fueling bay.


As a user of the technology for the last year, Love’s has been satisfied with the ease and automation of cardless fueling, according to Jon Archard, director of fuel marketing. Once the company finishes rolling out the technology at its truck stops, it expects to offer the same to its customers as well as see improved fuel theft control and more efficient transaction processes at their fuel islands.

And Love’s isn’t the only one trying out the technology. According to Comdata, Travel Centers of America (TA), www.tatravelcenters.com, is in the process of equipping all of its locations to accept cardless transactions as well.

Steve Stevenson, president of Comdata, said the company’s vision is to provide an industry-wide solution that is deployed on an open platform. The goal, he said, is to “make fuel transactions easier, faster and more secure than ever before.”

This wouldn’t be the first time Comdata has helped move the transportation industry forward. In 1981, the company introduced the first universally accepted fuel card, an innovation most of today’s fleets wouldn’t live without. It remains to be seen whether or not the same will hold true for cardless fueling, but it certainly makes sense—for both the fueling and transportation industries.

Yes, RFID has found yet another use, but perhaps this a sign of something even more. With NFC (near-field communication) enabling the mobile wallet and now RFID enabling cardless fueling technology, we’re starting to wonder if the age of the credit card is finally nearing its end.





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