Formed in 1992 by a group of oil, pump and computer companies (including AGIP, BP, Petrofina, Mobil and Texaco), the principle of IFSF is to create standards so that devices from different manufacturers can interoperate without having to redevelop interfaces:
A similar effort was undertaken earlier in Germany by oil companies and the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, resulting in the European Petrol Station Interface (“EPSI”) standard, but this was not used much outside Germany.
Standards are only available to paid members of the IFSF organisation.
IFSF forecourt equipment has seen considerable success in Europe and some growth markets like Russia and Eastern Europe, but is relatively rare elsewhere. It has not seen much usage in North America , although several member companies are based there. However additional members have continued to join IFSF from many countries, in particular Shell who has pushed IFSF heavily in their European operations. Typically most major manufacturers offer an IFSF version of their equipment, though it may not be widely deployed. Currently an effort is underway to promote IFSF in China.
The newer EFT standards, "POS-EPS" based on XML technologies, are being used more widely.
Where IFSF is not used, a large variety of proprietary protocols are used. In many deployments, existing site equipment is converted to IFSF operation using a "protocol converter" or PCD, a small computer that accepts IFSF protocol and communicates to the device using its native, proprietary protocol. The PCD is most commonly fitted inside each dispenser, although it is possible for a single converter to convert many devices.
IFSF is more complex but more comprehensive than most proprietary protocols.
The IFSF standards define messages sent and received by each type of device. The messages are sent predominantly over the control network LonWorks, and are designed to be expandable by specifying individual fields with types and lengths. The messages are grouped into various "databases" for the logical parts of each device, such as a nozzle at a pump. Although methods for using TCP/IP transport have been defined this is quite rare.