GPS tracking hardware and software have helped companies reduce costs and increase efficiency for more than 20 years. GPS tracking devices and software allow business managers to monitor the performance of their drivers and their vehicles to help guarantee compliance with traffic laws and company policies. Such monitoring makes managers “virtual passengers” who are able to observe the behavior of drivers on a moment-by-moment basis.
GPS Tracking Basics
GPS tracking hardware devices are designed as either passive or active. Both types record basic information such as the time of day, speed at each point along the route, stopping places and duration of stops. Passive devices store that data, which must later be downloaded for analysis when the vehicle returns to its home location.
Active devices use a cellular transponder or a radio frequency modem to transmit data in real time from the vehicle to a collection point where it is processed. Active devices are usually preferred, because they deliver their reports automatically without human intervention.
Further, active devices have been greatly enhanced to provide miscellaneous inputs that can be monitored and reported. Such inputs can flag vehicle health issues — detect battery and engine problems, for example — before downtime or damage occurs. Thus, avoiding costly repairs. Likewise, such inputs can be connected to seat belts to assure drivers and passengers buckle up whenever the vehicle is underway, or to report on wasteful long periods of idling.
GPS tracking software is generally web-based. It gives managers a constant flow of information about the operation of trucks, heavy equipment, trailers and other assets. In addition to a map view that identifies each asset being tracked, the software provides an array of reports that give management the data they need to manage their drivers.
Major Benefits You Can Expect
Fuel cost savings. GPS systems can reduce fuel costs in several ways: Because GPS systems can monitor traffic congestion, spot accident sites and road construction delays, drivers can avoid long spells of sitting idle and burning fuel. Likewise, GPS can specify the best route from one point to another, giving drivers more fuel-efficient routes. Additionally, driving conservatively within posted speed limits, which GPS tracking monitors, reduces fuel consumption.
As noted above, GPS trackers can monitor engine performance, allowing management to establish rules that prohibit drivers from long idle times during loading, unloading, etc. Likewise, tire pressure monitoring can alert managers to underinflated tires that can reduce fuel economy by as much as 3 percent. Overall, trucking fleets can expect cost reductions that may range from 20 to 50 percent.
Reduce maintenance time and control costs
Using a GPS tracker’s ability to monitor operating time and mileage, fleet managers are able to schedule maintenance based on miles driven and other parameters that reflect engine condition. Preventive, rather than reactive maintenance, prolongs vehicle lifetime. Over time, it reduces equipment and capital investment for new vehicles. It increases uptime, which translates to greater efficiency and better customer service.
Safety and compliance. Drivers who know their driving is being monitored and that company rules have been established around safe driving tend to drive more cautiously. Further, GPS tracking systems can be installed to give the driver a real-time notice that he or she has just violated a driving safety rule — whether it involves speeding, hard braking or some other violation of company policy. GPS tracking can shape drivers’ behavior to reduce crashes and improve road safety.
Theft prevention and recovery. Vehicles equipped with GPS tracking are, by definition, easily located in the event of theft. Even thefts in progress can often be detected through the use of geo-fencing. A geo-fence defines where company vehicles can legitimately travel. Should a vehicle travel beyond the geo-fence as during a theft, an alert is automatically triggered.
In addition, some insurance companies reward their insureds for installing GPS tracking systems by offering discounts for such vehicles.
And Even More …
GPS tracking makes a company more productive, more efficient and better able to deliver first-rate customer service.
Routes are optimized to save time and fuel on the road. Deliveries are more likely to be made on time. Automated tracking of hours behind the wheel can directly feed payroll systems to provide accurate reporting of hours worked. Historical data accumulated by the tracking software can simplify job costing.
Author bio: Robert J. Hall is President of Track Your Truck, a leader in GPS vehicle tracking systems and software for small and midsized companies.