Norfolk firm aims to take the pain out of truck parking

A Norfolk company is vying to revolutionise the way fleet lorry companies do business by helping to take cash and paperwork out of the equation.

Hoveton-based ETP Card Processing has developed a unique Single National Account Package (Snap), an electronic system which gives HGV fleet operators access to truck washing and parking sites across the country and removes the need for paperwork and petty cash.

The company has already successfully introduced a similar system using fleet cards, but with fuel card companies adding a surcharge, ETP looked to develop a separate system based on recognising vehicle registration numbers.

ETP director Chris Billing said that Snap was a totally automated process, which meant that, at truck stops, drivers did not have to use cash and their employers could have comprehensive records of where their trucks were staying and where they were washed.

The company developed the software, which can record when a lorry has parked up or used a car wash via handheld terminals based at participating lorry parks.

Information is recorded and then updated electronically, cutting out the need for vast amounts of paperwork and loose change, which can easily go missing.

'We started off with fuel cards because all drivers have them for topping up their tanks and we talked to them about establishing a network of sites for non-fuel activities such as washing and parking,' he said.

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'We developed the software and it opens up great efficiencies for the fleet operators.

'But what we found was that the fuel card companies have a surcharge, so then we invented Snap, which was using the same network but extending it so that rather than using a fuel card, you use a registration number.

The fleet operator will log on to our online software and add the registration numbers of the vehicles. That's the difference.'

He said the system reduced fraud by offering greater traceability and accountability, while also cutting down on administration costs and staff hours.

Truck drivers have a wider choice of sites available to them and no longer need to pay up front for services and claim the money back later.

Launched last year the company now has 150 fleet operator customers using the Snap service and with it access to 2,500 vehicles.

It has also recently concluded a deal with Truckwash UK to run the company's back office services and also manages the truck parking systems at the Hayward Distribution Park in Manchester.

Turnover for ETP is about �100,000, mostly from Snap, and Mr Billing believes the business model has huge potential, with the company also in talks with fleet companies from France and Slovakia.

'It is also talking to local authorities such as Norfolk County Council to see if there is a market for developing park-and-ride sites as lorry parks.

'We are the only people in the world doing it, and we are also talking to people in other countries about it,' he said.

'We have got 150 customers and we are seeing an increase all the time.'