GPS Fleet Tracking: All You Need to Know
gps fleet tracking
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IntelliShift Team

As a fleet manager, you know that keeping your assets in peak condition is essential to maintaining organizational productivity and efficiency. Many of the assets required for daily operations, from trucks to construction equipment, are expensive, with any damage or loss costing your company. 

Tracking fleet assets by integrating GPS can help you minimize these risks while maximizing your fleet’s performance. Here’s how you can benefit from monitoring your team with GPS fleet tracking.

Real-Time Fleet Intelligence Assets

What is GPS Fleet Tracking?

The best fleet management solutions available for logistics companies are heavily geared towards telematics. GPS fleet tracking uses a combination of satellite and cellular technology to track and monitor your trucks and other assets in real-time. It is one of the most popular technologies used in the industry. 

Sitting in your office or using any computer or mobile device, you can quickly find out where your drivers are, even if they are on a long-haul run. You can use this information to help your drivers avoid congestion and road closures and to better schedule runs and driver logistics.

fleet monitoring keeps your business running smoothly

How Does a GPS Fleet Tracker Work?

Most of us are familiar with using a GPS as a separate device or through a navigation app on a smartphone. But how exactly does a GPS tracker work?

GPS tracking uses a series of 24 satellites (with three backup satellites) that rotate around the earth continuously, known as the Global Navigation Satellite System or GNSS. 

Commissioned initially and still controlled by the US Department of Defense (DOD), these satellites are more formally known as the Global Positioning System (GPS). The part of this system that civilians can access is the Standard Positioning Service. 

The satellites in the GNSS network send microwaves to a GPS receiver that you install directly on the truck, van, or another asset. The microwaves relay the device’s exact location, time, and velocity using the principle of trilateration.

Benefits of GPS Fleet Tracking Systems

Using GPS fleet tracking is more than just knowing a vehicle’s location at all times. Because telematics systems can give you a better understanding of how your team uses your assets, you can work towards better efficiency, improved customer service, and even cost savings. 

Here are some of the many benefits a company can realize by implementing a tracking system in their fleet, especially when paired with other sophisticated telematics devices.  

  • Administrative:
    • Automatic tracking to reduce paperwork
    • Improved business operations
    • Productivity boosts 
    • Reduced operating costs
    • Better dispatching
    • Reduced overall fuel costs due to less fuel consumption
    • Decreased time card theft
    • Improved driver retention
  • Compliance and Legal:
    • Better driver safety scorecards and CSA scores
    • Scaled-down vehicle maintenance costs
    • Insurance cost savings
    • Less theft of assets and property
    • Enhanced safety
    • Better risk management
    • Total compliance with DOT and Labor regulations
  • Operations:
    • In-cab communication
    • Real-time vehicle tracking
    • Tracking and monitoring high-risk freight
    • Maintenance alerts
    • Economical route planning
    • Improved customer service and satisfaction

Types of GPS Fleet Tracking

GPS fleet tracking benefits many different industries. But, before you can get the most benefit, you’ll need to select the right type of tracker to monitor your fleet. 

You can differentiate the types of GPS fleet trackers by their power source and the method of hardware installation. You can use three main types of GPS trackers: hard wired, plug in, and battery operated. Each has its own benefits and uses, with some being better for commercial uses and others more suited to the regular driver. 

Hard-Wired Fleet Tracking System

A hard-wired GPS tracking system is directly wired into the vehicle through a 12 VDC power source directly off the ignition column. This type of tracker is typically installed inside or under the dashboard. Placing it here is beneficial because it keeps the tracker out of sight, making it more difficult to remove in the case of vehicle theft. 

Hard-wired GPS trackers are often the best option for commercial companies. However, it’s important to remember that GPS signals do not penetrate metal. So, if you choose a hard-wired system, make sure you place it properly. 

installing telematics device

Plug-In Gateway

A plug-in fleet tracker is perhaps one of the most straightforward systems to install. It is essentially a plug-and-play hardware you install in the OBD port. Most trucks and vehicles have an OBD port, mostly used by mechanics to get diagnostic trouble codes

Once you install the tracker, it will pull the power needed from the vehicle’s battery. A plug-in tracker will have a sensor to tell whether the vehicle is running, which helps to minimize the vehicle’s battery drain. 

Battery-Operated Fleet Trackers

The third type of fleet tracker is a battery-operated GPS tracking device. These systems work independently with their own battery, not requiring any other kind of power from the vehicle. 

The batteries in these trackers often have a long life. But, unlike hard-wired or plug-in trackers, they do not report driver data as often. They report only every 15 minutes with motion and every 4 hours at rest, as opposed to every minute in motion and every hour at rest with other trackers.

Industries That Use GPS Fleet Management Tools

GPS fleet tracking is a tool used across a surprisingly wide variety of industries. Any company with assets that move from one location to another may find it helpful to implement GPS tracking. Some industries that already use fleet management solutions with GPS tracking include the following. 

Agriculture

US farms are, on average, 400+ acres, requiring expensive equipment and other assets to be spread over a wide area (both on the farm and in running farm-related tasks). GPS fleet tracking helps farms keep tabs on all of their equipment, knowing where on the field it is at any given time. 

Car and eBike Rentals

Rental companies are putting their assets in the hands of their customers, be it eBikes, cars, vans, or trucks. A GPS fleet tracking solution is non-negotiable to prevent theft and keep track of where their assets are at all times. 

Multi-Use Construction Fleet

Construction

With a fleet filled with exorbitantly expensive equipment, it is essential to keep track of it all as it moves between job sites. GPS tracking software helps monitor the location of equipment, preventing the added costs of delayed projects and lost assets. 

Healthcare

GPS fleet tracking is helpful to healthcare organizations that deal with non-emergency transportation and emergency dispatching. Knowing where each team is in real-time helps notify the closest team to improve response times, helping them administer emergency care faster.

Field Services

Whenever there’s a service-based business with a mobile workforce, be it for HVAC, landscaping, cleaning, roofing, plumbing, pest control, etc., companies can benefit from GPS fleet tracking. Using GPS, companies can tell exactly where the technician is en route and how much time they are spending at each location, improving fleet efficiency and customer service. 

Museums and Institutes

Transporting priceless artifacts requires top-notch security. GPS fleet tracking lets the museum track vehicle locations continuously to ensure the shipment safely arrives at its new home with its security detail. 

Roadside Assistance 

Customers could break down anywhere. A GPS fleet tracking system allows roadside assistance companies to find the closest team available. This reduces response time and helps remove customers from potentially dangerous situations faster. 

Security Companies

GPS tracking is helpful for security companies in many ways to improve installation and repair times, tracking how long technicians are at a site. These monitoring systems can also track response times when the security systems register a breach, helping improve customer service. 

GPS fleet management solutions work in many industries beyond trucking

Shipping and Transportation

Companies entrust shippers with their inventory reaching point A to point B safely. Monitoring where goods are in real-time helps transportation companies offer great customer service, while also improving the efficiency of the entire fleet. 

Trucking Companies

Fleet managers can use GPS tracking to monitor all of the data related to driver behaviors. Using this data, trucking companies can develop a thorough driver coaching program. The objective of this program would be to review what is DOT compliance, improve driver safety, and driver scorecards. 

GPS tracking systems can also link to a virtual logbook, ensuring perfect reporting and vehicle safety. They can also be used to help monitor fuel efficiency and numerous vehicle diagnostics and engine fault codes, promoting proactive maintenance.   

Universities

Academic institutions have a variety of fleet vehicles that need to be monitored, including shuttle vans, buses, maintenance trucks, dining services vans, etc., spread over large campuses or even several campuses. 

A fleet management system with GPS helps universities keep track of which asset is where, monitor driver accountability, and reduce their operational costs. This helps them provide better service to students, faculty, alumni, and visitors. 

Utilities

Whether it’s getting a utility installed, turned on, or rectified, fleet management software with GPS tracking can help utility companies (electric, gas, cable, internet, etc.) monitor their technicians. In the case of repair, utility companies can use this vehicle tracking solution to identify the closest team available. 

The system can also monitor the time spent on each site, time spent between locations, and monitor for any off-route stops or fuel waste. Companies can use this data to improve their operations. 

Each of these industries needs GPS tracking of its assets, drivers, and teams for its own reasons. However, the technology remains the same, leading to the question of how GPS fleet tracking can continue expanding to other industries. The best way to do this is to continue developing and integrating advanced telematics systems built upon GPS technology. 

a fleet tracking system amplifies your productivity

How to Choose a Fleet Monitoring Solution for Your Business

Before considering which fleet monitoring solution works for you, you must determine your needs. Most solutions offer GPS tracking as part of a more complex and sophisticated telematics system. 

You’ll need to decide exactly what data you want fleet solutions to collect about the usage of your assets. Some of the common data these telematics systems can collect include: 

  • Vehicle activity
  • Driver performance
  • Harsh driving events
  • Breaking speed limits
  • Fuel usage
  • Time in use
  • Location
  • Route history

From an administrative aspect, you’ll want to consider the other features that will be helpful to your business, such as:

  • Easy-to-use metric dashboard with fleet performance data
  • Driver behavior alerts and notification system
  • Mobile access
  • Vehicle health and engine diagnostics
  • Customer support
  • Vendor demos

A comprehensive solution will collect more data and offer more features, which comes at a higher cost. While it’s tempting to go with a less robust telematics solution to save money, it’s more important to focus on getting needs met over worrying about the price tag. 

Finding the right system for your business will require a bit of research and time investment. IntelliShift is ready to assist you in finding innovative solutions to meet your needs. 

IntelliShift has fleet tracking solutions for your business, whether you are looking for just asset tracking or a more complex system with sensors, dash cams, etc. Schedule a demo today to see how IntelliShift can give you the resources you need to improve your fleet management and organizational efficiency today.  

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