By Pauline Masson

Pacific Ewditor

Husky Corporation demonstrated its new Fuelmatics automated gas nozzle for reporters at its Pacific plant Jan. 23.

The high-tech system includes computers, infrared cameras and retractable arms. It was developed as the newest, cleanest and most convenient way to fill up.

Over an 18–month period, Husky worked with Sweden’s Fuelmatics Systems AB to get the new system ready for manufacture in Husky’s Pacific plant.

Heralded as drive-through fueling, with the same convenience as a drive-through ATM machine, car wash or restaurant, the new refueling system allows drivers to remain in their car for the approximately four minute it takes to fill up.

“Customers already eat, bank and wash cars using a drive-through system,” noted Brad Baker, Husky vice president.

Retailers will love the system, Baker said, because it will give motorists more time inside the store for snacks and accessories.

This is not the first time the drive-through refueling system was introduced, but earlier versions did not catch on. Now, with better robotics and the use of infrared cameras, Husky believes the time is right for the automated system.

“This will be especially right for extremely cold climates where people don’t want to stand outside their cars to fill up,” Baker said.

As yet there are no Fuelmatics systems installed in local stations, but Husky showed the system at a trade show in October and gas retailers liked it.

The $50,000 price tag of the system might result in a slight upcharge when first introduced at local stations, but Baker believes that will be temporary.

“You don’t pay any more at McDonald’s to go through the drive-through than to go inside,” he said. “We’re used to drive-through convenience.”

Motorists will pull up to a wide touch screen monitor, similar to those in some car washes, enter their credit card number and the type of fuel they want and pull forward.

The Fuelmatics System moves along the car until an infrared camera locates the shadow of the fuel door. An arm extends with a small finger that taps the fuel door to open, the finger retracts, the nozzle moves in to find the fuel pipe and fills until a splash back tells the system the tank is full. The arm then withdraws.

Motorists will have to spend $5 to retrofit their car’s fuel pipe with a special cap to use the automated system.

In the long run, the new system will reduce the time everyone spends in the lane at the gas station, Baker says, and because it will take less time for everyone to fill up there will be fewer lanes.

At present, the system is programmed to fill up completely before it shuts off, but that might later be changed to allow motorists to ask for a specific amount of fuel.

The systems will be introduced in local stations state by state with Missouri motorists being the first to see the new system.

“We have to get them in place so people can see them,” Baker said.

Husky Corporation, founded 66 years ago, is headquartered in Pacific, and has built an international reputation for its line of nozzles for vapor recovery, conventional fueling, truck and high volume, farm and commercial, and convenience stores, and now farm hoses, oil lube products, plus aviation hoses.