Stock-taking is recognised by accountants and stores managers as a safe means of keeping track of stock; it is inconceivable to imagine a modern store not accurately accounting for stock. So why do some businesses have such lax control over fuel wet stock?
Stored in bulk, it is difficult to accurately measure, and tends to evaporate as well as grow and shrink in volume as temperature changes. This problem makes wet stock control more challenging, but it does not remove the business sense in tracking fuel stocks.
The key to controlling stock is comparing the actual quantity of product with the calculated stock level. Fuel can be managed, providing that the right equipment is available.
A reconciliation system needs a means of measuring the volume of fuel in storage, the volume of fuel being dispensed, and nothing more than a pen and paper. Basic stock level management can be achieved using a dip-stick or simple tank gauge and a fuel dispensing pump equipped with a volumetric meter and a non-resettable register.
Admittedly, stock management with such basic equipment is unlikely to be particularly accurate, but it would provide the operator with a basic a reconciliation system and consequently some comfort over stock security.
When calculating the stock reconciliation, the operator would establish a starting point stock level and reading from the pump’s non-resettable register. Using a chart, the operator would record stock movements daily, including deliveries into the storage tank and fuel dispensed through the pump. In so doing, the operator will be able to track the calculated, or book stock value, against the tank gauge.
Differences between book stock and actual stock would then be monitored to identify significant issues.
Modern tank gauging systems provide a more accurate stock level than dip sticks, but the process is the same.
The table below shows a simple example of this calculation. This data is not from a real site, but the example demonstrates the principle.
This table has been prepared to demonstrate the technique rather than provide an analysis of the data. It is however, important to note that the data in column ‘L’, difference, shows that the comparison between tank stock level and book stock fluctuates: this is because of errors in the tank gauge, fuel pump meter and the effect of temperature and other influences. We can see, however, that there is no trend towards fuel loss. If a negative value in column ‘L’ was progressively getting larger, then there could be a fuel theft or a leak, although the problem could only be a poorly-calibrated pump or tank gauge.
The main thing to remember is that stock reconciliation is easy to implement and can either reveal a potential problem or give an operator comfort that the site is not leaking or losing fuel to theft.
Cameron Forecourt can provide advice on tank stock management, tank level measurement as well as automated stock reconciliation facilities.