Intelligent Forecasting: How Fuel Haulers Can Simplify and Optimize Deliveries

Simple mistakes that create excess “deadhead” miles quickly erase profits on loads

According to a recent report by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), fleet operating costs reached a record $2.27 per mile in 2023 and continue to rise. For fuel haulers, reducing deadhead requires better delivery methods.

Do your delivery efficiencies suffer from being blindsided by “will-call” customer orders? Ideally, you would plan fuel deliveries days and weeks in advance to consolidate order volumes and optimize delivery routes that eliminate deadhead miles.

This ideal scenario is achievable by using technology that accurately forecasts customer orders. This article shows how a new development by TrueTMS, TrueCast, gives fuel haulers a powerful yet simple-to-use method to maximize delivery efficiencies.

The Model of Efficiency

TrueCast enables fleets to automatically forecast customer orders and plan deliveries when tank levels reach established re-order points.

When customer orders arrive, the system automatically matches the gallons ordered to the requisite amount needed to fill the tanks — and nothing more. With this assurance, fuel haulers can prevent spills and eliminate instances where gallons remain in delivery vehicles.

Getting Started

The new modeling tool is available to fuel haulers through the cloud-based TrueLiquid TMS. Using the model’s static or dynamic delivery planning capabilities, fleets can optimally manage orders and deliveries at customer locations.

The model has a few simple setups, as follows:

  • Tank Configuration. This step is necessary to:
    • Identify the location of the tank receiving deliveries
    • Set the minimum and maximum volume thresholds
    • Add attributes like tank manifolds that increase the storage capacity
    • Establish the baseline retain and runout parameters

  • Trailer Configuration. For this step, you identify the attributes of the trailers you will use to:
    • Accurately reflect compartment configurations
    • Account for minimum and maximum delivery amounts
    • Capture secondary trailer attributes – pumps, double bulkheads, etc.
    • Represent shipment quantities and weight variables

The setup continues with matching the forecasting model with your sales and customer order requirements. This involves creating and maintaining a sales model for each location you manage with two options:

  • Manual process. With this option, you set up a static forecasting model based on the average product consumption over a given time (Daily, Weekly, Monthly).  This allows the model to predict when a replenishment volume is reached and when to schedule an order based on that target amount.
  • A static forecasting model uses equal consumption increments for a given time frame. For example, consider a location with a daily order schedule. The store operates from 8 am to 8 pm. The consumption over 12 hours is 2400 gallons. The estimated consumption for each hour is 200 gallons.
  • An automated sales process can be set up based on readings from an automatic tank gauge (ATG) application. TrueCast ingests beginning and ending volumes to monitor consumption trends and predict future needs. The more data available, the more accurate the forecast.

Additional Considerations

The sales, ordering, and delivery processes will differ for each customer and location. TrueCast accounts for a wide range of possible scenarios by using two main variables:

  • The date range for predicting orders determines how often the process runs. For example, some customers want to place orders every two weeks. The model will take existing demand data based on static or accumulated ATG readings and produce orders every two weeks.
  • The interval determines how often the system consumes readings from static or ATG data imports.

Using the setup process for the parameters described above, the forecasting model determines how much of a given quantity needs to be delivered and the best day and time to do it.

For multiple commodity forecasting, the model links the commodities to be delivered to a location, considers the trailer’s compartments and capacity, and determines the optimal time and quantities for all commodities in the set.

New Orders and Existing orders

The forecasting process considers existing orders up to the point of dispatch. When the model runs, previously created orders are reviewed to determine if the quantities are still viable for delivery. If not, the forecasting model will update the quantities or create a new order based on the updated receiver needs.

The model will also create orders for multiple commodities going to a location and consider available equipment.

Forecasting Simulator

If you do not want TrueCast to create orders, fleet admin users can use a simulator to input variables and forecast orders over a given time frame. This works like the automated forecasting process without creating orders.

This process is helpful for fleets who want to review orders and, where necessary, redefine parameters for a location to create an optimal order. The simulator can be used in the automated model that ingests tank readings. Due to fluctuations in actual readings, the simulations may change over time, which allows users to update parameters as sales data changes.

Forecasting Dashboard 

TrueCast gives companies a big-picture view of orders to identify trends and determine if the model considers all the factors necessary to create optimal orders by location and customer.

The model accurately forecasts demand and replenishment cycles for different commodities, enabling fuel haulers to predict the commodity needs of locations over time. The precision and automation of the TrueCast process help fleets boost profits by increasing driver and asset utilization, maximizing delivery volumes and efficiencies, and meeting customer needs at each location.

This results in fewer deadhead miles by making fewer trips and eliminating instances where drivers return with commodities in their tanks due to over-ordering commodity quantities.

Accelerate Forward

TrueCast is a leap forward in fuel delivery management. By automating order forecasting and optimizing delivery schedules, the innovative system helps fuel haulers increase profitability by improving asset utilization, reducing waste, and enhancing customer satisfaction.

Do you want to operate more confidently and profitably? TrueCast isn’t just about reducing deadhead miles. It can transform the fuel delivery process and give you a competitive edge in a demanding market. Contact us to schedule a personalized demo today!