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The Future of Forecourt Networking is Secure Wireless Ethernet

By: Courtney Hamby on April 24th, 2018

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The Future of Forecourt Networking is Secure Wireless Ethernet

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The subject of updating the forecourt is often one fuel centers want to avoid, as complexity and complications abound when it’s time to upgrade to newer digital technologies. From dealing with aging and buried wires to difficult interfaces like current loop, many feel there is no simple solution to connecting this part of their business. Furthermore, each station has its own unique challenges; some fuel center operators, for example, may have little to no expertise with networking. Additionally, compliance regulations vary and change over time. Despite all this, your fuel center can gain many advantages by moving all components to TCP/IP.

There are two choices: conversion over legacy wires or Secure Wireless Ethernet. The former will keep you up at night with worry. The latter is the solution you’ve been looking for, one that is simple to both implement and scale up in the future.

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What is the Forecourt?

A fuel center forecourt has many elements, including fueling dispensers and in-dispenser payment terminals (DPTs), Island Payment Terminals (IPT), Change Back Machines (CBM), leak detection systems, car wash controller systems, and electronic price signs. The forecourt also includes all the devices contained within the fueling dispensers (displays, printers, cash acceptors, barcode readers, etc.).

The forecourt is critical to almost every function at your fuel center. Because of this, it’s important to have an end to end TCP/IP forecourt solution that is easy to upgrade, can evolve with the changing regulation environment -- and can be remotely managed 24/7/365.

Forecourt Challenges

Since the fuel center forecourt is such an integral part to so many systems, it’s complicated. Most forecourts have existing wiring that has been buried and hasn’t aged well. It is also in many cases only capable of current loop or serial data transmission. Current loop was not designed to be transferred over TCP/IP and presents a huge issue when moving forecourt devices. Dispensers, DPTs and IPTs force constant polling, which puts excessive bandwidth strain on the low bandwidth existing wires. As forecourt devices increase, the existing system cannot take on this extra work.

There are also multiple types of data being exchanged over the system. Depending on the data, security requirements vary. If the data is related to payment information then PCI (Payment Card Industry) rules apply. This is of course much more stringent as compared to the data transmitted by leak detectors.

Forecourt Networking Made Easy

There is no way to get around proper forecourt networking, but there is a way to do it better. Installing a UL 1238 certified secure wireless device inside the fuel dispenser is the future of forecourt networking. These render the two or four wire configurations of the past unnecessary. This installation requires very little time as compared to IP over RS485 or home port technology. It’s truly a plug and play solution that does not require previous network experience to install. Complete it in minutes, minimizing costs and downtime. The wireless system is digital TCP/IP with encryption, so noise, loop back failures, and security concerns are no longer a challenge. Additionally, installers can connect other non-TCP/IP devices in the dispenser to one of four ports of the integrated managed Ethernet switch inside the secure wireless system. One such item is a Current Loop/Serial to TCP/IP adapter. With this, you have WAN/Cloud management capabilities for virtually any facet of the fuel dispenser or forecourt devices.

These Secure Wireless Ethernet devices can be scaled with no issues. Adding more devices won’t slow the system. If you want to expand, you won’t have to be concerned about network difficulties.

AvaLAN, a provider of secure, reliable wireless solutions for fuel centers, offers the Secure Wireless Solution for easily upgrading your forecourt network. Learn more about why Secure Wireless Ethernet is answer for the next generation fuel center.

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