Title
Improved Fuel Management System
FPGA Technology Reduces Controller Cost by 35%
Technologies used

    FPGA

Industrial sector (PRODCOM code)
    29 Transportation Services
    30 Office Machinery
    31 Electrical Equipment for Engines and Vehicles
    332 :Instruments & Appliances for Measuring, Testing, Checking
    333 Industrial Process Control Equipment
Abstract

Roncol Services Ltd was established in 1973 to design, manufacture and service a range of commercial and retail fuel pump systems to a broad range of customers. Employing 24 staff, the sector in which the company operates is Transportation Services. Major customers of Roncol Services include oil companies, local authorities, public utilities, the emergency services, public transport and large haulage companies. Roncol's skill is the ability to react to customer demand and develop, install and maintain custom-built fuelling systems for the small to medium sized operator.

The Fuel Scout is a fuel dispensing control and monitoring system designed to allow haulage companies and fleet vehicle users to control the issue of fuel to their vehicles, and to record the amount of fuel consumed by individual vehicles and drivers. The Fuel Scout system design is based on the use of a purchased low cost personal computer (PC) board with company designed plug in cards to interface to the pump sensors, operator displays and the keypad. These dedicated plug-in cards use discrete device technology, and the use of this device technology introduces cost and space limitations on the features offered by the product.

The objective of this Application Experiment was to improve the Fuel Scout system by the use of FPGA technology to realise the following benefits:

a) Improved competitiveness as a result of extra product functionality, including:

  • The ability to meet customer requirements for alternative access security methods, such as magnetic stripe card and radio frequency (RF) key ring access methods.
  • Improved metering accuracy by the provision of digital counter prescaling circuits for each pump sensor channel. This allows the use of the Fuel Scout system in monitoring bulk fuel transfers in oil terminals, opening up a new market area for the Fuel Scout.
  • The use of the fuel pump sensor input prescalers to allow the Fuel Scout to interface to existing pump installations without the need to replace existing fuel pump transmitters.
  • The ability to implement a 2-wire current loop interface to allow connection to retail trade pumps often used in commercial applications.
  • The implementation of a master / slave hardware interface to allow two or more Fuel Scout systems to control fuel transfer on the same site when pumps are far apart.

b) A manufacturing cost reduction of 35% for the controller board which forms an integral part of the Fuel Scout system. This cost reduction was achieved via the much higher levels of integration that are available through the use of FPGA technology when compared to discrete digital logic chips. In addition, the number of circuit boards required for the implementation of the improved Fuel Scout system has been reduced from 3 to 2. A future 'replication exercise' to redesign a 386-based control card will further reduce the board count down from 2 to 1.

The addition of these features has substantially improved the Fuel Scout product and is scheduled to generate increased sales and profits for the company. The development of a FPGA device design capability within the company will also enable Roncol to incorporate this technology into other products in the future, with further commercial benefits to the company. The development of the improved product supported by the FUSE programme cost 51kEUR. The duration of the application experiment was 10 months. An 11-week period of industrialisation followed the prototype development phase at an additional cost an additional 18kEUR.

The return on investment on the FUSE-funded development work (51kEUR) is calculated at 28 months. The return on this investment over the product's five year lifecycle is estimated at 440%. This clearly demonstrates the commercial advantages of FPGA technology for small companies such as Roncol Services.

 
Company

    Roncol Services Ltd
    Plas Celyn, Bangor Road
    Penmaenmawr,
    Wales, LL34 6LD
    United Kingdom.


Detailed information

You can also benefit from microelectronics

FPGA technology provided Roncol Services Ltd. with the means of improving its products and enhancing its market position. You can also achieve significant benefits by acquiring the right microelectronics technology and utilising it in your product or manufacturing process. You can get help from FUSE to realise this.

FUSE is a technology transfer programme, funded by the European Commission to stimulate the wider use of microelectronics technologies by European enterprises to increase their competitiveness and enhance their economic growth. The demonstrator described here is one of many examples in the public FUSE portfolio covering the whole spectrum of microelectronics technologies and spanning a wide range of applications and industry sectors.

FUSE provides you with:

  • Best practice in acquiring specific microelectronics technologies and conducting full development projects through the FUSE portfolio of real life demonstrator documents.
  • Local training and expert support to plan your innovation realistically and help you conduct your project successfully.

Further information and support relating to this and other demonstrators can be obtained from the addresses below.


Further information   Guiding Technology Transfer Node
For further information and support regarding this case study, please contact a Technology Transfer Node (TTN) in your region.
Homepage: http://www.fuse-network.com
Univercity of Glamorgan
Mid Glamorgan
Pontypridd CF37 1DL
United Kingdom