The Device Chronicle interviews Michael Boyd, Director of Product Management, Fleet Solutions of Dover Fueling Solutions, to learn more about how IoT is revolutionizing the forecourt to convenience store experience.
Austin-headquartered and part of Dover Corporation, Dover Fueling Solutions (DFS) delivers advanced fuel dispensing equipment, electronic systems and payment, tank monitoring and wetstock management solutions. The company is using Azure IoT Hub and Azure Stream Analytics to deliver personalized experiences, like content and targeted advertising, to consumers right at the fuel pump. DFS solutions also increase efficiency in pump and tank monitoring, allowing operators to fix small issues quickly before they become costly repair problems.
“There is a consumer who wants to fuel up at the pump and they may be there for anywhere from between two and four minutes depending on the size of the vehicle. For retailers, this is an opportunity to advertise or market to get the consumer into the adjacent convenience store. And as we started to see digital technology take off, the ability or the value of making sure you are targeting the right consumer with the right offerings has exponentially increased in value,” said Boyd.
Fuel dispensers have always had some sort of an add-on media solution set. What really makes DFS’ IoT-based solution DX Promote stand out is its emphasis around digital content delivery. DX Promote is geared to add more third-party partnerships into this ecosystem to help drive some of those things that retailers would really like to see.
“In essence, it is a digital content delivery solution and when you think about driving digital content to a screen or to any sort of media platform, the possibilities really kind of go far beyond just what a retailer would like to see at a dispenser,” said Boyd.
DX Promote is aligned with the way DFS as a company thinks about digital transformation. The intent is to drive IoT intelligence. There are three distinct levels to digital transformation and IoT intelligence:
There’s the component level. This is the human user interface interacting on the digital edge and connecting to the cloud.
Second, there is intelligence happening at the cloud level. This crosses all of DFS’ solutions. The intent is to drive intelligence across all of these devices so that decision-making can be automated and deliver feedback loops is created at the point of impact.
A great example is the DFS DX™ connected solutions platform. DFS DX is the industry’s first open, global and common cloud platform harnessing the power of advanced analytics and IoT. The DFS DX solutions empower fuel retailers to increase sales through targeted advertising, centrally manage point-of-sale solutions, control an entire fleet from a single cloud-based interface and much more. The new Anthem UX™ user experience platform brings the industry’s largest screen to harness the power of DFS DX to boost sales and enhance the customer experience.
In partnership with Microsoft, DFS is running a Microsoft Windows 10 IoT platform across the board. It allows DFS to scale the solution accordingly with Microsoft Azure and to have common components and implementation across several different media.
“Whether we’re talking about it on the cloud or we’re talking about it on site, it’s the same IOT modules that are running,” said Boyd.
Troubleshooting and maintenance
Troubleshooting and maintenance can be done remotely through the DX Monitor solution. There are five different end user applications on top of this IoT solution. DX Monitor provides users with the ability to identify and mitigate equipment problems by monitoring the devices.
“What is really interesting about the platform is the way we’ve set it up and genericized how we communicate with devices. This is important as a dispenser manufacturer, we can now assess how interested users are in services on the forecourt and in the convenience store. We’re doing a proof of concept with customers around coffee machines and that is one of the highest revenue generators in a convenience store across the board,” said Boyd.
Knowing whether each coffee machine is up and running and those sorts of details might seem small, but these things are strategically very important to store operators.
“As we started to build this platform, we knew that the benefit was going to be in pulling in information and driving data in places that most wouldn’t necessarily do. Our competitors maintain primarily proprietary ecosystems so that all of their devices are covered. We took the exact opposite approach in terms of developing an open platform so that we can drive the most value for our customers and interoperability with third-party technology,” said Boyd.
Value from the project
Digital transformation has really changed the narrative with DFS’ customers and DFS is now being seen as a technology leader.
“We are now being seen as technology leaders, which was our ultimate goal from the outset. We’re being seen as a technology partner, specifically for DX Fleet, which is another one of the applications that sits on the open platform,” said Boyd.
One of DFS’ largest customers came to them at the beginning of the year and said they wanted to enable mobility for their fleet customers. DFS was able to reduce their time-to-market for a project which would have taken years to kick off in the next couple of months.
“We reduced [time-to-market] from what would have been a multi-year project into six to eight months of development and integration. Because of that, we’ve been able to greatly strengthen our relationship with this customer and beat out our competitors. They had a head start on us on this, but it looks like we’re going to beat them out in getting to market and creating key functionality for the customer based on our IoT platform,” said Boyd.
Remote software updates
There are clear competitive and security advantages from remote software updates.
“The ability to remotely deploy software upgrades has proven to be a tremendous benefit. Not only can site operators manage and maintain their equipment remotely, they can also securely retrieve data logs, view dispenser screens, reboot, inventory equipment and distribute upgrades without the need to be physically present at their site,” said Boyd.
Upgrades can be deployed to individual dispensers or all dispensers at once on a schedule of the site operator’s choosing, which provides flexibility and saves valuable time. It also minimizes downtime and disruption for the site, allowing operators to keep their sites up and running.
Importance of openness
The openness of the platform is very important and is facilitated through APIs. One of the biggest benefits of open architecture is API integration and development can be done faster and partners can be leveraged to do what they do best and drive more value for the customer.
DFS recently announced their partnership with UK-based software provider Techniche. Under the agreement, DFS can now market, sell and distribute Techniche’s asset management and compliance software solutions to their customers.
“Now that we (DFS) can control, or at least see that whole feedback loop, we can actually get to a place where we know where these conditions lead to this break, we can proactively provide the fix and this is ultimately going to drive predictive maintenance,” said Boyd.
DFS has developed a clear roadmap for each of the solutions in the DFS DX connected solutions platform. As the leader of DFS’ fleet solutions, Boyd and his team will be partnering with telemetry companies to deepen their understanding of fleet vehicle maintenance, and driving new feature functionality based on vertical integration capabilities of the fleet, purchasing fuel pricing and more. There is so much opportunity in the area of cloud-based IoT solutions, and DFS is at the forefront of this innovation as the technology leader in the fueling industry.
We wish Michael and the product management team at DFS well as they continue to build out IoT and digital capabilities onto the forecourt and the convenience store.
A special thanks to Amy Cearley and Kat Brooks from the corporate communications leadership team at Dover Fueling Solutions for organising this executive interview for the Device Chronicle.