FuelPlus has recently won the award for Best Aviation Fuel Management Software at the Air Transport Awards 2017, organised by Air Transport News. Following this success, we wanted to look back at the FuelPlus journey so far and understand its vision for the future. We spoke to FuelPlus CEO, Klaus-Peter Warnke, to find out more.
How does it feel to win this award and why do you think FuelPlus was successful over other providers?
“I certainly feel very proud that FuelPlus has received this prestigious award and has been recognized as the leading authority in the field of aviation fuel management.
“Almost 20 years of hard work at the forefront of process automation has finally resulted in our top position in this field. I believe that our clear focus on the aviation fuel management industry and our outstanding products, great industry knowledge, and two decades worth of experience, have given us the edge over our competitors.
“This award gives us reason to celebrate and is also a reminder not be become complacent but to continue to deliver top solutions for the benefit of the industry.”
What have been FuelPlus’ key achievements to date?
“Being able to achieve sustainable growth over the last 17 years has been our main accomplishment. We’ve managed to maintain a constant in-flow of new customers and many are leading carriers – Air France/KLM, IAG/British Airways, Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, ANA.
“We now have 51 airlines using our platform and 25% of all aviation fuel is managed by it; that’s a good market share. I’m proud of our 100% success rate for implementation projects too – I think that says a lot about our commitment, collaborative skills and excellence.
“We now have 51 airlines using our platform and 25% of all aviation fuel is managed by it…I’m proud of our 100% success rate for implementation projects too”
What do you think are the key fuel management challenges and opportunities facing airlines and fuel suppliers today? How can FuelPlus help them respond to these?
“In my mind there are a number of obvious challenges. Firstly, there is more pressure now to increase business efficiency. This is something I believe is only possible through the automation of business processes, or if you can’t do that, by outsourcing some of them.
“Secondly, compliance has become more pressing after scandals such as Enron. Most airlines are required to fulfil audit standards and so must implement checks and balances for fuel purchasing activities. This is very difficult if you have mainly manual processes and a recent IATA survey suggests that the industry is still reliant on these: it found that up to 80% of the work associated with tendering is done manually.
“Thirdly, the industry is facing a sudden loss of expertise because a lot of key players are due to retire soon. According to a recent survey of people attending the IATA Fuel Forum, a third were attending for the first time. This in-flow of new personnel means there is less experience and potential knowledge gaps.
“In response to these challenges, we see a key opportunity: to bring more automation into the industry using software such as the FuelPlus products. This improves productivity by reducing the time employees need to spend on routine manual processes. For example, our platform consolidates all fuel related data across the whole enterprise into a single database, so it can be accessed, analysed and updated more easily and by different teams. The software also has robust processes for procurement, logistics, operations and accounting, and has built-in audit trails and reports to ensure compliance.
“Automation means that industry-specific experience and knowledge becomes less crucial for mundane fuel management tasks, and so this would reduce the impact of knowledge gaps within the industry.”
“In response to these challenges, we see a key opportunity: to bring more automation into the industry using software…this improves productivity”
What is your vision for FuelPlus? What does the future hold?
“We will continue to provide complete aviation fuel management solutions to all segments of the market – airlines, suppliers and refuellers – to help them automate their end of the business.
“Our vision is to create the first completely ‘self-driving’ aviation fuel management system, which will automatically issue tenders, evaluate and award bids, set up contracts and pay suppliers. A form of artificial intelligence, it could take all of these decisions on behalf of the fuel manager, so they could spend their time on more valuable activities, such as talking to suppliers, analyzing and interpreting figures, and coming up with new ideas.
“This will require machine learning capabilities – software that can change when exposed to new data. A small example of this is when software predicts what information you will input into a field, based on your previous entries. That’s something we have already built into our system.
“Of course, the wider software industry has adopted the Cloud and the Software as a Service (SAAS) model, and so we are moving more towards this too while still allowing our clients choice. We offer deployment options, which include hosting in the Cloud, in a data center or on premises for example.
“We will also be focusing on enabling seamless collaboration between all of the parties involved in aviation fuel management. I believe this is where the biggest benefit will come. This means creating industry-wide standards, like the XML invoice initiative that IATA championed and which FuelPlus was a part of. We are now working with IATA on various data standards for tenders.
“We’re also working on our own collaboration tool, which will enable all parties involved in aviation fuel management to exchange electronic tenders, bids, special promotions, fuel tickets, invoices, and so on. It’s an exciting development.”
“We will also be focusing on enabling seamless collaboration between all of the parties involved in aviation fuel management. I believe this is where the biggest benefit will come.”
How do you hope to achieve this vision?
“We hire the best engineers, product and service people but we also make sure they are able to collaborate with each other and our customers. Our culture is based on innovation, excellence, trust, respect and collaboration. We work with aviation leaders – through our annual user group, joint development projects and industry associations – to understand how the fuel management process works in the real world and how technology can speed up processes and reduce errors.
“Whilst our customer service is first-rate, we know that the best service we can provide is a product that is working perfectly and is easy to use ‘out of the box’. I believe this focus on engineering, design and functionality above all else, has played a large part in our success. The overriding desire to build great products exists in everyone at FuelPlus, from me, the CEO, to the engineering teams, sales, service and QA teams.”
“We know that the best service we can provide is a product that is working perfectly and is easy to use ‘out of the box’.”
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