PetroLube Tunes in ReflectNet Services

 
 
By Michael Caton  |  Posted 2005-02-07
 
 
 

PetroLube Tunes in ReflectNet Services


With the goals of improving employee safety and customer satisfaction at its truck service centers, Petro Stopping Centers LP turned to showing streaming video content on LCD displays in 36 PetroLube locations.

Initially, Petro Stopping Centers installed Reflect Systems Inc.s ReflectNet and ReflectView software and 23-inch LCD displays and remote servers to educate truck drivers about services performed at the centers, said Jon Salter, manager of administration for the PetroLube division of Petro Stopping Centers, in El Paso, Texas.

In addition, the company has begun to use Reflects streaming video, audio and presentation data to display advertising and for employee training, Salter said.

Through streaming-media-based training using ReflectNet, the company aims to show truck drivers what they should expect as part of the service experience at the service centers, Salter said. For example, although service managers are instructed to show drivers the fluid samples from the trucks gear boxes as part of PetroLubes service procedure, the company wasnt always seeing 100 percent compliance, he said. Videos give the company a way to inform drivers that they should ask to see the samples if the manager doesnt provide them.

The company distributes content from a single ReflectNet management server at its main office to ReflectEdge servers at 36 PetroLube locations. Bandwidth was definitely a concern because the remote locations share voice and data traffic over T-1 lines, Salter said.

"ReflectNet allows us to throttle the bandwidth so we dont transfer more than we can afford," Salter said. "It takes a little longer, but it doesnt impact the network."

Click here to read Labs review of another content distribution system.

The company creates content by combining video, audio and presentation data using Reflect Systems ReflectStudio software at the main office. The ReflectNet software manages distribution of the employee education content, and each ReflectEdge server includes dedicated MPEG hardware to provide video.

The distributed design of the system has allowed the company to use one server for employee training without affecting the video showing on the LCD in the customer service area.

Salter said the MPEG decoder helped the company meet its goal of displaying DVD-quality video.

The high quality of the video and the good reporting capabilities of the ReflectView software have enabled PetroLube to use the system for another task: displaying advertisements from other companies.

Petro Stopping Centers had long had an interest in providing third-party advertising through digital signage, and the combination of software and displays finally gave the company a way to do it, according to Salter.

Next Page: Managing content across the board.

PetroLube Tunes in ReflectNet Services - Page 2


"The Reflect software has a range of reports that tells us what files have played for how many minutes and gives the vendor a playlist for so many minutes on a location basis," Salter said. "I can see [whether] all 36 of our screens are operational and can see that status in my office [as well as] produce the report in a few clicks and provide that to our vendors."

Salter said he manages the system through an additional test server in the main office. He uses this server to manage creation and distribution of new content across the system. Once content is ready for distribution, he can upload it to the central distribution server.

Although he declined to specify how much Petro Stopping Centers has spent on its ReflectNet deployment, Salter said the ability to run advertisements—and thus collect third-party revenue—has allowed the company to quickly recoup costs.

The companys next steps include deploying the system to Petro Stopping Centers 19 franchisee locations. After that, the company wants to install ReflectEdge servers and displays in Petro Stopping Centers other businesses, said Salter.

Most Petro Stopping Centers include fuel pumps and a main building that houses a Travel Store and an Iron Skillet restaurant. In addition, the main building can include laundry facilities, movie theaters, showers or fast-food outlets.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on technologys impact on retail.

Rocket Fuel