Oregon recently lifted the ban on people pumping their own gas, and while some citizens aren’t happy, it’s an example of how new technologies can revolutionize an industry. Self-pumping gas stations and fuel centers are a prime example of how automation has dramatically changed an entire industry, but there’s another revolution coming down the pipe. The Internet of Things has reached the self-service fuel center and is changing the way customers pump their gas and the way operators monitor their tanks.
Many gas stations’ underground tanks are a hodgepodge of new and old technologies, often requiring attendants to manually measure their tanks for overfilling, leaks, and other concerns. IoT connectivity is rapidly changing the entire oil and gas industry, and the retail pump is no exception. Companies worldwide are cloud-enabling newly installed pumps and updating pumps already at work. This connectivity enables big data solutions, collecting information on tank gauges, gas usage, safety concerns, and more. The advantages can be felt in the streamlining of supply chains, more efficiently predicting tank refills, and assessing tank leaks that would take manual measurements months and years to detect. This mitigates costs and safety concerns at nearly every step of the pumping process.
Retailers in sectors of all kinds are preparing to invest in IoT and machine learning solutions. The power of real-time customer and process data is becoming too much to ignore, and 79% of North American decision makers in retail are preparing to invest in IoT tech. As more and more industries become interconnected, staying behind the ball will shift from inefficient to costly, as customers will nearly always choose a personalized experience. Aging technologies still in use at fuel centers around the country will need updating eventually, and taking that window of opportunity to invest in IoT is not only a smart move, but will soon be standard.
The oil and gas industry is a notoriously diverse one, with patchwork technologies and multiple solutions to the same industry challenges. The true power of IoT is in its ability to synthesize such diverse frameworks and still generate powerful, data-based solutions.
Many operators are hesitating to adopt EMV payments at the pump, and in recognition of the challenges unique to the industry, Mastercard and Visa agreed to postpone the liability shift for card payments to October of 2020. Though that’s a more generous timeline, the deadline is still rapidly approaching. Updating a system can take months, so it’s imperative that operators plan ahead to meet the new requirement. That means a higher up-front investment, but due to EMV’s anti-counterfeit measures that are especially useful at unattended self-serve stations, this investment is well worth it. Operators shouldn’t ignore the power of IoT, and adopting both it and EMV in their next major gas station rollout is a strong opportunity to keep up with modern technologies.
AvaLAN wireless is an ideal partner in the next rollout, providing wireless solutions for EMV payment at the pump that is PCI compliant. Similarly, AvaLAN offers automatic tank gauges and LED signage with full Ethernet network connectivity. As EMV and IoT solutions require faster connections, Ethernet is a uniquely powerful solution for gas stations in need of an upgrade. Ethernet is easily upgradeable, meaning that future advances in IoT won’t require a complete rollout to keep up with.