Keeping Track of Fuel Use

Submitted by Mark Butler on February 11, 2004 - 1:00am.

Keeping track of fuel can be a major headache. All too often, fuel 'leaks out' through mismanagement, inefficient use or theft. With careful management by the logistician, administrator or vehicle manager and of course the drivers, these problems can be avoided.

Here are a few tips:

Advantages of a coupon system

Whatever fuel you are using, it makes sense to have a regular supplier whom you know. One way to organise this is to set up a reciprocal agreement with a local vendor using coupons. This can save many headaches, as well as protecting both sides from abuse of the system.

Here's how it works: each request for fuel to the filling station comes with a coupon that has been stamped by the person responsible for vehicles, such as the administrator or manager. The station supplies the prescribed amount, or gives an amount determined by the organisation and the petrol station. No one can obtain fuel from the station without a signed coupon. Coupon books invariably come with two same-numbered tickets. One of these goes to the petrol station, and the other is retained by the administrator/logistician/manager. At the end of the month, the totals are agreed on this basis, rather than through checking receipts that the driver would otherwise have to obtain.

Using coupons is the best way to make sure that both sides are aware of how much fuel is being pumped into the vehicle. It's worth visiting with the driver from time to time to check that there are no problems with the pumps or method of delivery.

Keeping fuel on site: Stock records

Availability of fuel and access to suppliers are the key factors to consider when deciding whether to keep fuel on site or to purchase from a petrol station. You're more likely to store fuel yourself if there's a shortage or if you simply haven't got access to a petrol station. If you choose to keep the fuel on site, make sure it's secure and that access is restricted to authorised people only. Safety and security must always be a major consideration.

Keep stock control records to monitor all fuel movement - this should be recorded on a standard form and signed for by the driver and person in charge of the fuel.

Tip: a measuring device (dipping rod or graduated stick) is an effective way of checking how much is in a drum if you do not have a tank.

Fuel-use sheets

Use simple forms to keep track of how much fuel is being used by each vehicle and the fleet as a whole. The key things to record are the vehicle number, the driver's name, the journey made, the distance covered, and the amounts of fuel added. The driver of each vehicle signs off the sheet, and in so doing accepts responsibility if there are problems. Each sheet should be filled in daily, and reviewed either at the end of the day or weekly (as appropriate). Ideally, the sheets are computerised so that problems can be highlighted automatically.

Fill up at the end of the day

There are several benefits in doing this. You have a daily record of how much fuel was needed to fill the vehicle after a scheduled journey. This should correspond with a grid covering the distances between regular journeys. Any new journey should be added. Differences between the norms should be quickly visible allowing the opportunity to discuss any discrepancies with the driver.

If you're working in an insecure environment, the vehicle will be ready to go in the eventuality that staff have to be evacuated.

One driver, One vehicle

Key to all this is to get drivers on board with a system that makes sense and is easy to use. One way to do this is to allocate a particular driver to each vehicle and brief them on their responsibilities. These include ensuring that the vehicle isn't driven by anyone else without prior agreement, and agreeing all journeys beforehand to limit unnecessary use. Drivers or the manager may identify problems in the system at which point checks can be made regarding the vehicle itself, or its use.

The system is only as good as the people who use it, so regular monitoring by the manager and good communication with drivers are essential.


Mark Butler has worked as a Project Manager, Logistics Coordinator and Security Manager in Central Asia and Africa (Great Lakes). He is now completing a MSc in Development Practices at Oxford Brookes University (UK).

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