By Gavin Lennox, Invenco CEO: When we talk about ‘frictionless fuelling’ the ultimate is to drive up to a pump, fill up then drive off – no card, phone or payment app required. And if you don’t have to get out of the car to do it, even better. So when the Z-Energy Innovation Refinery came to us and said “we want to use number plate recognition to let customers fuel-and-go” we didn’t say ‘impossible’ we said, “let’s go.”
Teaming up with three other New Zealand technology companies - Rush Digital, Focus Security and Paymark – the Fastlane project took three months from concept to pilot and posed some interesting technical challenges along the way. Invenco was responsible for providing the Invenco Controller connecting our Outdoor Payment Terminals (OPTs) in the dispenser to the pump; knowing how much fuel you’ve pumped is a fundamental requirement. Once fuelling is completed it links the fuel pumped to the point-of-sale and the number-plate identifier to access the account.
We also provided the all-important site payment enablement technology to manage the communication between the cloud and the site. While we must admit the number-plate recognition smarts is the game breaker on this, we are proud of being able to help bring together a secure payments backend to make this a viable, commercial endeavour.
It also makes you proud to be part of New Zealand’s rapidly growing technology industry. Invenco is just one of twenty or so New Zealand companies featuring in the Deloitte Asia-Pacific Technology Fast 500 and succeeding on the global stage in building exceptional technology solutions.
New Zealand’s isolation makes it an excellent ground for experimental R&D, such as Z Energy’s Fastlane project. Not only are retailers, like Z, wanting to push boundaries but customers aren’t afraid to embrace new technology. Combine this with hi-tech companies that are openly willing to collaborate, and we can make the seemingly impossible a reality.
How does Fastlane work?
Customers download the Z App and register for Fastlane - entering plate registration, purchase preferences and payment details. Having identified a participating service station using the app, they pull up to the dedicated Fastlane. At the pump, onsite cameras instantaneously read and validate the vehicle’s registration plate against a secure customer database.
During the day a Z team member will greet them by name and fill the tank based on the fuel type; all of which is displayed on the OPT screen. Customers can also opt to fill their own tank. Once filling is complete, the customer drives off and payment takes place automatically. It is quite literally: fill-and-go.
Z Energy reports the results from customer testing to date have been very positive, particularly in rush hour or when fuelling with a car full of children. The trial is currently available at ten Z service stations in Auckland and Christchurch, with more sites to be added based on customer response and feedback.
Z’S General Manager of Retail, Mark Forsyth, told me Fastlane is part of a long-term strategy for the company that took over NZ Shell stations ten years ago. “We are always looking for opportunities to improve the customer experience. We know that in many instances customers just need to quickly refuel and get on their way. Fastlane does just that – eliminating anything that slows down your refuelling experience,” he says. “We will continue to relentlessly focus on solving what matters for a moving world with our customer centric approach.”.
Z Fastlane is just one of many exciting initiatives being incubated at the Innovation Refinery and we look forward to being able to showcase new initiatives as they come to life. There has never been a more exciting time to be part of Petroleum Convenience Retailing and we work hard to help make all of our customers and partners PCR dreams come true.
Also check out the recent Fastlane article in Petrol Plaza
About Z Energy
Z Energy (Z) is New Zealand’s largest transport energy company, supplying around 45 per cent of New Zealand’s total fuel needs across the Z and Caltex brands. Z supplies fuel to retail motorists as well as large commercial customers including airlines, trucking companies, mines, shipping companies and vehicle fleet operators. Z also supplies lubricants via the Havoline and Delo brands and is a supplier of bitumen to roading contractors. A Kiwi company, Z's aim is “solve what matters for a moving world’. Z is a publicly listed company on the New Zealand and Australian stock exchanges.