The business of purchasing, managing and supplying aviation fuel is increasingly complex. Airlines and fuel suppliers must consider so many different factors – fuel demand, oil price fluctuations, exchange rates, industry regulations, efficiency, storage capacity and so on.
Therefore, the demand for data is huge and that data comes from many external and internal sources – for example, jet fuel price indexes, banks, and internal teams like Procurement, Flight Operations, Logistics, Finance, and Fuel Management.
So how do airlines and fuel suppliers gather and manage all of that data so they can act upon it? With great difficulty usually.
Airlines and fuel suppliers often use a number of different IT solutions to help with particular aspects of fuel management, for example, accounting systems or logistics systems. But many important fuel management activities are still done manually using basic desktop software such as Excel – tendering for example.
Often, airlines and fuel suppliers attempt to streamline business processes by buying generic ERP systems, such as SAP or Oracle. But while these are great for activities universal to all industries, such as accounting, they are less effective for the more industry-specific activities like fuel planning.
So what is the answer
A mix of specialized systems; not one solution fits all
We believe that airlines and fuel suppliers need specialized fuel management software that can centralize their core fuel data and speed up and automate challenging fuel management processes, such as fuel planning, tendering and invoice verification. The FuelPlus platform excels at this.
However, we also believe that our software must easily integrate with airlines’ and suppliers’ other third party systems. It’s not an either/or scenario. After all, these other systems have their own strengths. As we already mentioned, ERP systems often perform very well for accounting tasks while commodity/risk management software such as Allegro and OpenLink are ideal for hedging.
That’s why we’ve made sure that FuelPlus products integrate with generic ERP and financial systems as standard, such as Oracle, SAP and JD Edwards.
Why is specialized fuel management software so good?
Focused on an end user
In most professions, it’s vital that you understand your customer – who they are, what issues they face, what they need and want. Only then can you offer them valuable services or products.
It’s the same in software. If you understand the business and in particular the end user well, you can design a better solution that will be more useful to them.
At FuelPlus, our 20-year focus on aviation fuel management has allowed us to become fuel experts. We are immersed in the aviation fuel management world all the time. Every implementation that we have worked on has enabled us to learn something new about the process of airline or supplier fuel management. With every customer interaction, we learn more about our end users and what they need from our software.
We’re also an IATA strategic partner and have been working with IATA on introducing new data standards that will improve the process of fuel procurement and invoicing.
In short, we are amassing knowledge of your sector (aviation fuel) all the time and are committed to providing solutions that meet your current and future needs.
With airlines operating on such thin margins these days, the cost efficiency of any software platform is crucial, particularly for low cost carriers.
If you try to use your existing ERP or commodity and risk management system for more specific fuel management activities, you will probably find it requires a lot of customization. This can be costly and adds a new risk.
In contrast, specialized software like ours offers much better value for money because it requires little, if any, modification. Our products have already been through many cycles of refinement to ensure they work well for the aviation industry and we have already identified and included the key features required by most customers.
Usability and the level of functionality
There are always common processes and procedures within a particular industry and the aviation industry is no different. Specialized software like ours is shaped by these so you should find that it fits your existing ways of working nicely.
Deep functionality is also a real benefit. Because our system is built specifically for aviation fuel management, you will find it can do really useful things that more generic ERP systems won’t. For example, in FuelPlus, contract pricing is automatically calculated based on a complex price formula involving daily energy quotations, averaging methods, exchange rates and a list of price components.
Similarly, industry-specific terminology – such as ‘into plane’ or ‘into storage’ fuel supply – is used within our system as standard. This makes it easier for the end user to understand and operate the software, so it could reduce the time and money spent on training.
Opportunities for knowledge sharing and best practice
For software to really add value, it shouldn’t just automate the same processes you had before. Any new IT solution presents an opportunity to improve business efficiency by streamlining processes and overcoming longstanding issues.
As fuel management specialists, we can help you see these opportunities and realize them. Our 20-year focus on one industry means that we’ve encountered best practice in all areas of aviation fuel management – planning, procurement, contract management, operations monitoring, invoicing and so on.
We’ve built these best practice approaches into our software and we have the knowledge to see clearly how you could reshape your procedures to benefit from them.
We also hold an annual user group that’s open to all our customers and we are starting to establish regional user groups. As well as giving you a say in the future direction of our software, these groups are a good way of meeting other professionals from the aviation fuel management industry with similar issues and varying levels of experience. They are useful for knowledge sharing and networking and might even lead to some collaborations.
Quality of support
During the implementation phase of any software installation, you will be heavily reliant on the vendor to make the system work for your organization and help make the transition from old systems as painless as possible.
If the vendor already understands your particular industry including its terminology and unique processes, your implementation is likely to be smoother and quicker. The fact that the system is built for your type of business will also be a huge advantage here – it makes the implementation less risky.
Also, any relationship with a software vendor is going to be a fairly long-term commitment, so you need to be convinced that the quality of their support after implementation will meet your expectations and needs. If the support team are already knowledgeable about your sector and have come across industry-specific issues before, your requests will be answered faster leaving you and your end users more satisfied.
At FuelPlus, we’re proud of our 100% success rate for implementations and our 24/7 support desk gets great reviews from our customers. Read what Japan Airlines said about us recently.
In summary, aviation fuel management is an important and complex process that demands software that is specifically designed for the job, that can easily integrate with existing IT systems and that is well supported by a knowledgeable team. More generic ERP or commodity/risk management systems often have strengths in particular areas and so they may have a role to play too, depending on your requirements. Overall, we believe the best solution is to have the FuelPlus platform as your core fuel management system, with additional third party software connected and supporting, where necessary.
What does FuelPlus offer?
FuelPlus is the world’s number one provider of aviation fuel management software. We help airlines and fuel suppliers save time and money. More than 50 airlines, managing around 25% of the world’s commercial aviation fuel consumption, already use our products and services. More large and mid-size airlines trust us than any other fuel software company.
The combined experience of over 50 global airlines and their fuel suppliers has shaped our platform. Through our annual user group, joint development projects and industry associations, we listen and learn.
Our Airline.One product contains a number of modules designed to automate specific aviation fuel management processes within airlines, such as strategic and operations planning, tendering, replenishment, operations monitoring and accounting.
Our Supplier.One product contains slightly different modules designed to bring the same benefits to fuel suppliers – for example, planning, procurement, operations and account management.
Key features of Airline.One:
- Brings together large amounts of disparate data across different systems and teams into a single database
- Uses IATA’s XML data standards for invoices and tenders, so airlines and suppliers can do business more quickly and easily
- Automates 80% of the tender process, including creating tender documents, capturing bids and normalizing them to see which is best
- Automatically checks every single invoice against all operational and commercial data, preventing over-paying and saving time
- Automatically captures and verifies data such as actual flight events, fuel volumes at various points and fuel ticket data
- Makes it easy to analyze fuel usage and spend across the whole enterprise thanks to automated data capture
- Automatically downloads daily fuel prices from providers such as Platts, OPIS and Global Insight and updates index-based contracts to save you time
- Helps you meet the requirements of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, by forecasting and then monitoring actual emissions and preparing the relevant data for verification and submission
- Integrates with generic ERP and financial systems as standard – such as Oracle, SAP, JD Edwards
- Has built-in audit trails to ensure you are compliant plus automated workflows so you can track and control user activities in critical areas.
For more features including advanced fuel planning, tankering management, inventory and logistics management, see the Airline.One product page.
Key features of Supplier.One
- Centralizes all the data about your airline customers, such as their aircraft, pricing policy, trade references, master agreements, location contracts, credit limits, and fuel tickets.
- Jet fuel assessments can download automatically every day from providers such as Platts, Argus and European banks. Index-based contracts then automatically update, saving you time.
- Dashboards and alerts tell you when customers are close to their credit limits so you can take action.
- Automatically captures tender invitations, prepares draft location bids based on the pricing database, and even generates location contracts when bids are accepted
- Monitors all aspects of your purchase contracts and sales contracts in one place, including duties, fees and taxes, pricing and terms, credit limits, and actual fuel supplied versus what was contracted.
For more information and features, see the Supplier.One product page.