In Mexico, Fueling a Fix for Gas Refills

For gas companies in Mexico, the process of refilling a customer's liquefied petroleum gas tanks is a guessing game. A startup called Nube plans to use IoT technology to change that.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Oct 21, 2015

Nube is Spanish for "cloud," and it's pronounced "NEW-bay," not, as this gringa reporter said as she opened her interview with Nube founder and co-CEO Chris Gnanakone, "Noob." The correction was important, he said, because Nube has plans to evolve into a cloud-based services company that will work in a wide range of vertical markets. It is starting by providing vendors of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in Mexico with an IoT-based system that tells them when customer's LPG tanks need to be refilled. If widely adopted, this could greatly improve the logistical operations of refueling services, Gnanakone says, while also helping ensure their residential and commercial customers will have a reliable supply of fuel.

"No one in Mexico knows how much gas is their tank, and gas companies don't know how much, either," Gnanakone explains.

Nube's Chris Gnanakone
That's because in most commercial buildings and in some residential buildings throughout Mexico, LPG tanks are located on the rooftops, which are often not easily or safely accessible to occupants. There are 12 million roof-mounted LPG tanks in the country, according to Gnanakone. (Some homes that lack roof-mounted tanks use small LPG cylinders for heating and cooking needs, and refills are purchased from vendors on the street.)

Residential customers sometimes put in standing orders for a refueling truck to come on the 15th or last day of the month, or every other month, he says, based on what they've needed in the past. But sometimes, homes run out of fuel and residents must go without any source of heat or cooking fuel until a refueling truck can be dispatched to their home. Businesses such as hospitals or restaurants, which consume a significant amount of fuel and are highly dependent on it, generally have their LPG tanks refilled once each week.

Nube, which is headquartered in Guadalajara, with an engineering, research and development office in Boulder, Colo., is currently running internal tests of its platform, which would allow gas companies to dispatch trucks to refill tanks based on a customer's need, determined by the actual fuel levels inside the tanks. Nube worked with Sierra Wireless, a provider of embedded wireless devices and gateways, as well as connectivity services, to develop the Nube LPG tank level sensor and cellular communication module that is at the heart of the new offering.

Simply enter a question for our experts.
Sign up for the RFID Journal Newsletter
We will never sell or share your information
RFID Journal LIVE! RFID in Health Care LIVE! LatAm LIVE! Brasil LIVE! Europe RFID Connect Virtual Events RFID Journal Awards Webinars Presentations