As retail fuel prices topped the three dollar mark last month, many fuel retailers and commercial / industrial fuel operators found that some older dispensers with certain models of Veeder-Root mechanical computers were not designed for fuel prices exceeding $2.99 per gallon. Current models that have been available since 1982 have the ability to price up to $9.99 per gallon.
Replacement dispenser components that correct these problems are available, but when the surge in fuel prices caused a six-fold spike in demand for the units, inventories were rapidly depleted. "The sudden jump that pushed gas prices above three dollars virtually overnight caused a surge of orders that rapidly depleted stock in the supply chain," said Chris Kastner, Vice President of Operations at Veeder-Root. "We are doing everything we can now to catch up with demand."
Veeder-Root is tripling production capacity of the necessary new mechanical computers, remanufactured computers, and upgrade components. "Because of the work we need to do that involves additional production facilities and equipment, we anticipate we will be back to standard product delivery schedules for mechanical computers in October," Kastner says. "In the meantime, the company is prioritizing shipments trying to meet the immediate needs of fuel sites. "
Kastner says there are three options for fuel site operators who need to upgrade dispensers to accommodate the higher prices. One option is to purchase a remanufactured computer for $300. These remanufactured units are made in the Veeder-Root Factory and are supported with a two-year warranty. They can also purchase a new computer head unit for the dispenser, at a retail cost of about $590 per pump. Another quick fix is to install a $20 upgrade kit that contains new dials capable of displaying the higher fuel price levels. These options are available through distribution.
"Our goal is to minimize down time at fueling sites by allocating shipments of each of the various replacement components among all of our customers," Kastner adds. "That appears to be our best alternative in trying to alleviate business disruptions at the actual point of fuel delivery to consumers."