Engineer bets on gadget that does more than only monitoring fuel consumption

 Mr Anthony Mwangi holds the fuel monitoring gadget at his shop in Nairobi during an interview last week.

Photo credit: Joseph Wangui | Nation Media Group

Managing fuel costs in the course of running a business is one of the main challenges that those in the transport sector face, with fuel being one of the most pilfered by dishonest employees.

Anthony Mwangi, an electronics and electrical engineering graduate from the University of Nairobi, knows this, and three years ago, started the journey to innovate a technological solution that could cure one of the most nagging problems heads of companies and business owners face.

He created a gadget that is able to monitor a vehicle’s fuel consumption by measuring only the actual fuel that flows to the engine, providing accurate data.

He believes his machine is a notable achievement since most existing technologies in the market only measure the level of gas in the fuel tank.

In an interview with Powering SMEs, Mwangi explains the fuel monitoring system he created has proved efficient for use by institutions with heavy fuel consumption, mainly county and national governments, logistics companies that manage big fleets and industries with a heavy diesel reliance for production.

“This came as a result of people discrediting existing solutions in the market for not being accurate when providing estimates on fuel used. We created a customised sensor that is able to measure fuel usage with an accuracy of up to 0.1 litres,” says

Mwangi.

By last year, he had completed working on the product, and for testing purposes, installed one in a truck and another in a school bus and assessed their effectiveness. According to Mwangi, both have returned accurate data on how the vehicles consume fuel.

The fuel monitoring system, a medium-size container-like gadget that is tightly affixed on a vehicle and installed with data collection and transmission equipment, measures actual fuel consumed by the engine and transmits the data to a server accessible by a company. A business is therefore able to calculate how much fuel a particular vehicle consumes to assess its efficiency, or how much it consumes on different routes.

One can also accurately measure their fuel costs, preventing an employee from exaggerating fuel consumption.

“Fuel is one of the major resources big institutions consume, and also happens to be among major resources that are misused. If this sensor says the vehicle has consumed 10 litres, its actually that amount,” Mwangi stresses.

The gadget has other features such as a speed limit, a global/geographical positioning system (GPS), and a temperature monitoring system that can be used by vehicles used in the cold chain sector, therefore relieving businesses of the need to use different gadgets.

“The test vehicles have been running for about a year now without any issue. We have used a school vehicle and a dump truck plying the Ukambani region for testing and the system has been accurate,” says the engineer, who has in the past designed other gadgets, including speed limits approved by the Kenya Bureau of Standards.

His innovation would be a boost to businesses that are currently grappling with high fuel prices and which would do anything to cut fuel costs, especially where there is wastage.

“For commercial vehicle operators, it is mandatory to install speed limiters to do tracking and speed transmission to NTSA and vendor servers. On top of that, the fleet operator also has to install GPS trackers and fuel monitoring system. As for the cold chain transporters, they need to install temperature sensors. You end up having four gadgets, which can be combined into one and save you the cost,” he explains.

He estimates that vehicles using up to four different gadgets to get different services end up spending upwards of Sh100,000 and other monthly and annual fees on top of this amount. His gadget, he says, would sell at about Sh80,000, yet will have all these features.

The engineer is looking for partners who can support in marketing and mass production of the product due to the heavy investment required. Mwangi points out that the gadget would support not only the National Transport Safety Authority in its shift to modern speed limits that share data to its servers in real time, but also support businesses in managing costs and making key decisions.

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