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Rail News Home BNSF Railway

9/3/2003



Rail News: BNSF Railway

BNSF installs electronic monitoring system to gauge fuel usage, expenses




Diesel prices continue to rise, and Class Is are more concerned about how each gallon is stored and consumed. So, Burlington Northern Santa Fe recently implemented an automated, electronic fuel-flow network to improve inventory monitoring and fuel-usage tracking.

Every hour, fuel-line counters measure inbound and outbound flow, and digital gauges measure each fuel tank's level. Information is sent to a specialized site databank and then to BNSF's mainframe computer. A Web-based application enables fuel-management or other employees to obtain data by location, time (hourly or a daily summary) or trend.

"In the past, we used a manual process to read the gauges and fuel flow at our 48 fueling locations," said Lonnie Jarrell, BNSF director of fuel logistics, Fort Worth, in a prepared statement. "Once a day, local mechanical personnel would read the receipt and issue meters on our fuel lines, and the tank gauge at each fueling location, and then fax or phone the measurements to a central number in Fort Worth."

The old system was inefficient, and sometimes caused misread numbers or reading delays, said Jarrell.

The new system is designed to provide accurate fuel-inventory readings and enable the railroad to identify trends, set purchasing strategies, and validate theft, loss or leakage.

"The ability to access timely, accurate information about fuel inventories allows us to more closely manage those inventories and shipment schedules, and to time our purchases and pricing to market swings," said Cheri Carlson, BNSF assistant vice president of fuel management. "We can also quickly identify changes in fuel demand at each fueling location, which increases our opportunity to minimize operating expense."

Currently used at 16 fueling facilities, the electronic measurement system now is being installed and tested at two other locations. By year end, BNSF expects to install the system at 26 facilities.



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