The constant rise in fuel prices may have reduced the fuel allocation for the country’s military but at least radio frequency technology or RFID is helping reduce unwarranted and unscrupulous gas consumption. Instead of giving away “gas slips”, military personnel are now issued key tags (roughly similar in size to a Scrabble tile) equipped with RFID chips that store information on monthly fuel allocation and allows the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to monitor gas consumption in real-time.

These RFID key tags (or referred to as “keyfobs”) are pre-loaded every month and used when loading up gas at the Petron station at Camp Aguinaldo, which has eight pumps equipped with RFID readers. Fuel allocation varies according to military unit. But over the years, the allocation within the military has decreased because the budget stays the same even with the steady increase in gas prices, says Col. Bernardino Ricafrente from the Office of the Quartermaster General (OTQMG), which oversees the allocation supplies within the AFP.

The OTQMG issues keyfobs to more than 40 AFP units, which then issues them to individual users. The average monthly allocation per user is 100 liters, also depending on the kind of fuel (gas or diesel). When scanned through the reader, the system shows remaining fuel allocation. “The system has helped reduce rampant distribution of gas slips even to civilians. And before, with the use of gas slips, users can easily get away with loading up more than what is indicated,” Ricafrente explains in an interview with Computerworld Philippines during a site visit at Camp Aguinaldo.

The “fleet fueling” system is controlled centrally via a Web-based application called iTag Fuel Track developed by AC Corporation, a local company that develops applications using RFID technology. The keyfobs are equipped with “passive” (or non-battery powered) chips than can transmit signals from about two to three centimeters on the 13.56 megahertz frequency. AC Corp. sources its RFID chips from Texas Instruments.

Since the project began early this year, there have been more than a thousand keyfobs issued within AFP alone, says Ivan Fojas, planning and development manager at AC Corp, which is also doing a similar fleet fueling system for the Philippine National Police (PNP).

AC Corp. previously developed a fuel management system using smartcards (more or less similar to credit cards) for the AFP until it migrated the system to RFID, which offers long-term advantages. Fojas points out: “Because it’s basically contact-less, RFID tags are more durable than smartcards.” Fojas adds RFID chips can’t be easily cloned unlike smartcards, which are now easily reproduced and loaded with credit card information supplied by hackers.

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