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Pumped Up

Every application, regardless of the product, has its own special requirements. Whether it’s the vacuum that satellites have to withstand in space, the steam wash-down that food mixers go through, or the airborne soap spray that car wash payment systems are exposed to, each has a unique set of needs. And it’s no different with petrol outdoor payment terminals.


Outdoor payment terminals (OPTs) for petrol pumps are used to accept payment for petrol purchases via credit or debit cards. They are installed on the forecourt, or island, where the petrol pumps are located. While petrol pumps sometimes have their own payment system built-in, a separate payment terminal can allow the retrofitting of existing pumps whose only shortcoming may be the inability to accept card payment. Outdoor payment terminals can also save costs in lower volume applications by multiple pumps sharing one payment terminal.

When BPCL, a top oil company in India, decided to equip thousands of pumps at their petrol stations with card payment, they contacted Gilbarco Veeder-Root. Gilbarco Veeder-Root is well-known for their wide range of outdoor payment terminal designs that can be easily adapted to regional preferences, both in terms of appearance and functionality. Gilbarco’s extensive experience with automated payment for petrol dispensing allowed them to configure a FlexPay OPT to obtain credit/debit card authorisation automatically from the India credit card authority, giving BPCL the ability to provide card payment capability to their customers across India.

Gilbarco Veeder-Root has used HECON/ Hengstler thermal printers for many years; they selected the Hengstler eXtendo line of thermal printers for this application too. Available in two models covering paper widths from 49 to 86 mm, the X-56 and X-80 thermal printers are well-suited for OPTs such as the FlexPay. These printers, with their optional wide temperature/humidity range, are designed for -25°C to +70°C and 100% humidity conditions, which are frequently encountered in an outdoor environment. High speed serial or USB interfaces, coupled with print speeds up to 250 mm/second, enable fast printouts as well as the printing of additional sales messages, images or coupons. Formatting commands in the printers make the generation of complex, mixed graphic images such as coupons possible. The configuration system used with the Hengstler eXtendo printers allows the OEM to buy only those features that are needed for a specific application. Other eXtendo benefits for OPT applications include integrated paper roll holders for various sized rolls, a compact profile and long printer life.

Gilbarco selected a version of the X-56 to match the advanced features of their FlexPay OPT because of the lower paper cost of narrower 60 mm paper which was also suited to the limited amount of information that needs to be printed on the receipt. Ultimately, four factors were important in their selection: a chute sensor to detect paper remaining in the chute and to avoid paper jams, fast USB interface, reliable printing at a wide temperature range, and a competitive price.

Design integration of the X-56 was simplified by the software tools that are provided with the printer driver, including a software development kit (SDK), various diagnostic tools, programming samples and sample printouts. The availability of drivers for both Windows and Linux was helpful in getting the X-56 operating in the FlexPay terminal.