Change is on the horizon for fuel marketers, according to a new report from Fleet Panda, which provides cloud-based software for the segment.
The San Mateo, California-based company recently examined the major technology trends that will shape how fuel marketers manager their businesses in 2024 and beyond, and outlined the key factors to consider when evaluating software, including “supercharging” day-to-day operations with artificial intelligence, making better decisions with “Big Data” analytics, and the growing importance of mobile-friendly tech for drivers.
“Adapt or die. That’s really what 2024 will be all about,” the company maintained.
“It isn’t enough to just find workarounds for broken and disconnected operation processes and hope it will uphold your business and allow you to scale. It’s important to embrace these latest trends. Only by doing so can you scale and grow your business with ease, tackle industry challenges, and remain agile and competitive in a dynamic industry.”
AI usage in the energy sector is expected to surge to $19.8 billion by 2031, with a growth rate of 17.4% from 2022 to 2031, Fleet Panda said.
This change is coming at a time of transformation for all industries, fuel distributors included. With everything happening in the industry—fuel prices being so volatile, supply chain challenges, competition becoming fiercer than ever, and customer expectations of hassle-free experiences—AI is and will continue to play a major role in business growth.
Among the operational aspects that will be AI-driven are:
- Predictive maintenance, which will help prevent costly equipment failure
- Demand prediction/forecasting using AI will help companies accurately predict demands for downstream petroleum products. That in turn helps manage inventory, quickly respond to changing market dynamics, optimize resource utilization, and maximize profits.
- Route optimization makes deliveries more cost-efficient with better route planning that maximizes delivery volumes and minimizes time on the road. Enhanced procurement using price-trend predictions and advanced supplier selection
Making better decisions with ‘Big Data’
Data is the future. However, it’s only helpful if the user undersands it, Fleet Panda said.
The use of big data analytics tools and business intelligence dashboards will only increase from here on to monitor operations in real-time, fine tune daily processes, prepare for the unknown, and easily identify ways to optimize and reduce costs using historical and current data.
“Data is at the forefront of everything we do,” said Alex Salazar, 3L Energy Solutions executive vice president of operations. “The more information you have at your fingertips, the better decisions you’ll be able to make.
“Leveraging this data correctly can help companies grow tenfold.”
Drivers need mobile-based technology
In its newly released U.S. Freight Forecast for 2024, American Trucking Associations predicted the driver shortage will grow from 60,000 drivers to 82,000 this year.
One of the major reasons is a retiring/aging driver workforce. In fact, there are five times as many older drivers as younger drivers, ATA said. On top of that, younger generations are more resistant to driving because of the demanding nature of the job. The long hours on the road and unpredictable schedules make it difficult to hire and retain new drivers, creating a “challenging position” for fuel marketers, Fleet Panda added.
That’s why the company sees mobile-based technologies playing a crucial role in hiring and retaining drivers. Making distribution easier and more efficient will help companies keep their drivers and do more with fewer resources.
“Everything is drilled down for drivers, so they don’t have to think about anything,” one fuel and lubricant distributor said. “It takes all the guesswork out and prevents drivers from making mistakes. It’s like giving them the easiest day we can.”
Click here to read more about Fleet Panda’s technology predictions and insights.