Fleet Tracking: The Commercial Application of GPS Tracking

As we have mentioned time and time again on this site, GPS tracking has a ton of different applications in a variety of different solutions.  It works great for lots of consumer focused tracking applications – the person who wants to track a spouse to see if they are cheating, the father who wants to track their teen to see how they drive, or the parent who wants to track their child to keep them safe from predators and other safety threats.  But up until now we have steered away from one of the most prolific and widely accepted use of GPS based tracking in the world – fleet tracking.

How Fleet Tracking Works

GPS fleet tracking works off all the same basic principles that have been discussed all across the this blog. It all begins with some satellites that are currently orbiting the earth broadcasting this signal that can be picked up by specialized receivers. These receivers than give that information to a small computer which does some math called trilateration that calculates the exact position of the receiver when it received the signals. This information is then sent to another part of a GPS tracking device where it is then transmitted wirelessly across the great expanses of space and time until it appears on a server somewhere.

On this server somewhere the position information is then ran through some fleet tracking software which makes the information palatable to a business owner or dispatch operator. This individual then uses this information to better run the business, route drivers effectively, monitor worker activity, or schedule necessary maintenance on vehicles. It is all rather simply yet amazingly complex. The process is simple and clearly defined, and yet the theory and technology behind the process is shrouded in mystery and even has the allure of a magic-like quality to it. For many people, GPS tracking just is and there is no need to explain it.

Fleet Tracking Software

But this is a good tie into talking a little bit about the nerve center of any good flee tracking system – the software package. Most GPS tracking devices are going to do a great job of calculating their position information and then sending it to a server somewhere for it to be processed. If you think about this information, which is usually just simple information like position coordinates, speed, and direction, it is not going to be very useful to a business person trying to make real time decisions that will benefit their company right now.

Sure, it would be good to know that your truck has just made a delivery to coordinates 30.299691,-97.951401 and that they are now heading south by southwest at 25 mph – but how is that going to help anyone get this truck to its next stop? It isn’t. A dispatcher would have to go to a mapping software like GoogleMaps and enter the information gather by the fleet GPS tracking device manually to find that they are on Hacienda Ridge in Austin, Texas. This is doable, but it will take a lot of time to find the closet truck to a new service call if you have a fleet of 3 or more vehicle.

This is where fleet tracking software comes in. All the things that you might want to do by hand with all the information you gather from your real time tracking device can be done automatically and displayed to you on the fly when using fleet tracking software. Want to get a birds eye view of all the vehicles in your fleet at any point in time? Want to know if any of your drivers have left their area of operation for any reason? Want to see if one of your vehicles has been idling for more than 30 seconds? This is the type of information that commercial grade GPS fleet tracking devices and fleet tracking software can provide you.

Heck, there is even a very decent free fleet tracking software package called OpenGTS. It is featured on our list of free GPS tracking software suites. It is open source and complete free to use. You do have to jump over some technical hurdles if you are not already familiar with setting this type of thing up, but for some companies this can be well worth the extra effort.

Using a GPS Fleet Tracking System Effectively

Now that we all know the low down on how fleet tracking works from a technical standpoint we should probably try and figure out how we can leverage this technology to make businesses better. If you are a business owner you are already having ideas pop into your head about how a GPS fleet tracking system can make your business more efficient, make more service calls, and end up making you a lot more money. And this is exactly the outcome that many small business owners experience when they install fleet tracking systems in your fleet. According to an Aberdeen group study, small fleets (1-10 vehicles) saw an completed work orders increase by 25% after two years of using a tracking system.

Here are a few things that a business owner can do to make the most out of their tracking devices:

  • Use it to identify wasteful employees – cutting off the fat from your operation or turning the fat into lean muscles through some disciplinary action will help you get more bang for your salary buck
  • Use it to more efficiently route drivers to new service calls – getting the closest driver to the service call will save the company two invaluable assets: time and fuel.
  • Use it to incentivize performance – getting workers to work harder by rewarding hard work is a great way to increase the overall effectiveness of an operation

And those are just a few of the ways that a fleet vehicle tracking system could be used to benefit a business. There are more too.

Isn’t This Crazy?

It is clear that GPS fleet tracking is a very effective way for businesses to streamline their operations, cut costs, and improve overall worker output. Finding a good fleet tracking solution is as simple as going to the internet and finding one of the many different service providers that have fleet tracking components in their arsenal of products. It might take some time to research the best service providers and best prices, but that is the type of investment that you need to make if you want to take your business to the next level with a fleet tracking system.

4 thoughts on “Fleet Tracking: The Commercial Application of GPS Tracking”

  1. There is no doubt that GPS fleet tracking is a practical and effective tool for companies deploying mobile fleets. The challenge is often in finding a simple to use system that will actually be utilized. Overcoming technical challenges is one of the main reasons why companies either choose not to track or don’t fully utilize the system they have in place. There are a number of different systems available to the consumer that are very easy to use and still quite powerful.

    1. Hi Chris,

      Thanks for stopping by. It is a real shame when people shy away from using GPS fleet tracking because they don’t think they know how to use it. Fleet management companies are trying very hard to make the data as easy to digest and understand as possible, so there is generally very little technical know-how that a person needs to bring to the table. Often, the only thing that you really need to know how to do it use a computer and a mapping software like GoogleMaps to be able to get all that you need with this type of tracking software.

      Sure, there might be certain tricks to getting more from a particular tracking package – but that is true for word processing software, photo shop, and a host of other software. The only reason you should avoid GPS tracking for fleets is because you can’t afford it or you just don’t want to use it. The former I can understand, the later is just plain stupid.

      -Joe

  2. I think this article gives a nice overview of why a fleet owner should look into GPS fleet tracking. (full disclosure, I work for a fleet tracking vendor). One other fuel-related benefit I’d add is monitoring idle time. If your engineer is sitting with the truck running while eating lunch or worse, while away from the truck at a customer, it can add up to a lot of wasted fuel.

  3. Has anyone had any experience with trackers from Globalsat? The have a range of personal and one vehicle tracker.

    How reliable are these devices and how good is their GSAT software?

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