Unmanned gets green light in Ireland
Unattended service stations open for petrol and diesel
Unmanned Service Stations in Ireland are no longer a pipe dream. They’re here and they are set to revolutionise the way motorists refuel and the way fuel retailers run their businesses. Changes to draconian legislation at the end of last year have opened up the way for forecourt businesses to develop the unmanned model in close consultation with their local fire officers. Tokheim, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of fuel dispensing and retail automation equipment, has been a pioneer in developing the technology across Europe.
Its local division, Tokheim Ireland, is pleased to announce that it has partnered with GreatGas to launch the first truly unmanned station. The site not only sells petrol and diesel 24 hours a day, it also sells food and drinks via an automated vending system; all of which is monitored by CCTV and environmental software solutions.
Paul Farren, Tokheim Ireland, General Manager says, “It has taken a lot of hard work to get to this point. We have been in consultation with the banks, credit card companies and the legislator to help provide a viable unmanned solution. Working closely with our customer, GreatGas, we developed a solution that is not only profitable but one that is safe and secure for the public. This all culminated in the local fire officer giving the go ahead for the first fully unmanned site of its kind selling petrol and diesel.”
The first unmanned service station opened at GreatGas, Old Airport Road Service Station in Santry Dublin 9. One of the key factors has been the change in law regarding the dispensing of petroleum on an unmanned site in late 2010. GreatGas then liaised with the local Dublin Fire Officer who has approved it as the first site in Ireland to sell petrol and diesel fuel unmanned.
Ray O’Sullivan, Managing Director of GreatGas, explained, “We’re of course delighted to be the first to launch this concept in Ireland. Our philosophy is quite clear – reduced fuelling times, overheads and fuel prices resulting in more happy customers. Safety and security is paramount on the site; we have 24 hour monitoring via CCTV and a security firm, as well as the latest environmental management systems on site. People cannot drive off without paying for the fuel as payment is first authorised by the bank on their debit or credit card.”
So how does Tokheim’s Unmanned solution work?
Tokheim has developed this solution already across Europe, with an estimated 20,000 forecourt payment terminals across the continent. Farren says, “We always said that what differentiates Tokheim Ireland as a business is that we can develop our global products in a way that’s right for our market here. In partnership with our R&D teams in the Benelux we were the first innovators of EMV or ‘Chip and Pin’ outdoor payment in Ireland. Because of the research work done elsewhere we now have PCI compliance until 2020
– This means the products we sell today are future-proofed for tomorrow. The Tokheim Group has been providing a total solution for unmanned stations for years – we’ve developed this expertise to suit the marketplace here so that all local legislative, compliance and connectivity requirements are satisfied.”
Tokheim provides a complete solution to the station from assistance with legislative paperwork, right through to the installation and servicing of all the equipment. On the GreatGas site, Tokheim supplied its Quantium dispensers with integrated payment terminals. It is a beautifully engineered multiproduct dispenser that is packed with features such as Tokheim’s Crypto VGA payment system. The Crypto VGA is the industry’s only touchscreen payment solution that clearly guides the customer through the complete transaction process. Tokheim controls all fuel retailing operations via a central forecourt controller – this is the heart of the operation. It controls the environmental systems, links to the CCTV solution and also allows for the pole sign to be changed remotely.
What are the Benefits of Unmanned?
GreatGas aims to roll out this model across the country in the coming year. The new model not only allows motorists to fuel quicker without having to pay at the shop but it also has the added benefit of reduced overheads for GreatGas who then pass this on to their customers. In addition, the Santry station is open 24/7 365 days a year which is very convenient for early/late flights to and from Dublin airport as well as for those customers filling up before returning their rental cars. Another unforeseen benefit for parents is that they can keep an eye on their children at all times and don’t have the hassle of having to take them out of the car just to pay for fuel.
Farren says that Tokheim are currently working with a number of other clients to develop the unmanned solution elsewhere in the country. He says, “We’re quite far down the road with one of Ireland’s largest oil companies in launching a similar type of concept across a number of their sites. What is also very interesting is the conversations we are having with dealers who are looking at using this concept during the night so that they can remain open and selling fuel 24 hours. We’ve had many enquiries from small service stations on the brink of closure; they can see that this is as a business model could potentially save their business.”
Unmanned is not for everyone though?
So what about stations who are making all their money from their shop, why should they care about unmanned. Farren says, “they shouldn’t care about unmanned, but they should consider pay@pump.”
As the Irish forecourt network continues to shrink, pressure on the remaining sites will undoubtedly mount and motorists will face increasingly long queues unless retailers install more outdoor payment systems. Farren says ,“For motorists, a very busy site with a successful shop can have forecourt congestion which reduces the opportunity to sell fuel because people are parking at the pump and going into the shop, which keeps the pump occupied. By using technology to complement their business, retailers can reduce congestion to give those customers in a hurry a convenient option, and the retailer can focus on serving those customers who want to spend time in the shop. Fast lanes dedicated to pay@pump is also a simple but effective way for busy sites not to have customers driving away because their forecourt is jammed."
For more information Tokheim have set up a special interactive 3-D section that guides you through a fully equipped site http://www.tokheim.ie/forecourt.html