Pay at Pump reduces the time spent on the forecourt, providing benefit to the motorist while increasing throughput of fuelling for the retailer. The payment testing required for fuel payments is stringent and controlled as would be expected. Most fuel retailers have an extensive set of regression tests that they perform regularly. These are in addition to the certification tests that they may also be obligated to perform.
The end-to-end testing for fuel payments is typically performed manually because of the need to incorporate physical devices that include the fuel dispenser, including the payment components, the Point of Sale, and the card terminal in the kiosk, as well as backend infrastructure. We were asked to address this challenge by customers that have witnessed the success of point of sale test automation using our solution. Unsurprisingly, we were very willing to take up this challenge and eliminate a testing bottleneck.
We believe in selecting the most appropriate technology to meet the purpose and investing in understanding what is available, both from partners and in the marketplace, to make the right choices. This blog outlines how we followed our principles with the customer goals foremost.
As a solution provider that combines best-of-breed technology to create award-winning solutions, our ethos is one of taking responsibility for the complete solution, providing each of the components and owning support.
How we addressed the challenge?
The challenge with fuel payment automation is the level of human interaction to emulate, i.e., the fuelling and payment by the customer, and Point of Sale interaction of the merchant (kiosk operator), and the number of system validation points, with systems based on a range of technologies.
We adopted the engineering practice of decomposing the problem and addressing each element in isolation, followed by integrating all aspects to form a full solution.
• Payment Keypad – entry of digits
• Card Reader – insertion and removal of chip and swipe cards, making payments using simulated magnetic stripe cards, and the physical cards placed in the Chip Multiplexer
• Contactless Reader – contactless payments using the contactless cards placed in the Contactless Multiplexer
• Grade Selectors – select the grade of fuel
• Grade Price Displays – read the prices from the seven-segment displays
• Main Display – read the screen and press any of the eight buttons on the touch screen as required
• Sales Display – read the cost and amount of fuel dispensed from the seven-segment displays
• Nozzle and flow – select the nozzle (Gas or Diesel) and start and stop the flow of fuel
Researching each element and devising a solution, working with partner technology as appropriate, we reached the following solution design.
An example of the modular analysis and design approach is demonstrated by how we addressed the seven-segment displays used for the Sales Display (Dollars and Gallons) and the Grade Price Displays.
We have successfully used cameras and the OCR capability of Eggplant Functional to read the displays of payment card terminals in many projects, and we had the option to use this and add character sets to match the digits. Our solution was to sample the segment centre points and determine the value displayed from this. This option provided a fast read time and is not susceptible to lighting variation.
Similar levels of thought and innovation went into controlling the fuelling, reading and providing input via the Main Display, and the elements of the payment. With a suitable solution for each aspect, rigorous testing was performed. Finally, each component was assembled and integrated, resulting in the overall solution that could be used for client Proof of Concept activity.
The Proof of Concept demonstrated that all of the fuel payment testing flows could be automated, and that building out the full capability would result in substantial cost and time savings. The production solution involves multiple test rigs. A benefit of having the robotics and vision is that remote work to build out test cases could continue during lockdown periods when people could not enter the payments labs.