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What is GPS fleet tracking?

GPS fleet tracking is a management system that uses GPS tracking to monitor the location of commercial fleet vehicles and assets. 

Fleet managers, along with a variety of companies that deliver goods and provide services, and even the everyday driver use global positioning systems (GPS) to know where they’re going.

For fleet managers, GPS provides the added benefit of knowing where their vehicles are at any moment, resulting in significant cost savings, safer vehicle utilization, and on-time arrivals and deliveries.

What is fleet tracking?

Fleet tracking is a management system that uses GPS tracking to monitor assets and fleet vehicle locations and activities. GPS fleet tracking uses cellular and satellite technology, allowing fleet managers to locate vehicles and assets in real time.

Tracking systems can show how long drivers stay at loading docks before moving to the next stop. If a driver spends too long at a loading site, you can find ways to make their pickups more efficient.

With GPS tracking, you get the most accurate data on vehicle movements and locations, estimating fuel consumption and emissions levels, time spent on site, and equipment usage.

GPS provides fleet managers with the data needed to make strategic decisions and increase asset and vehicle return on investment (ROI).

How GPS fleet tracking works

A GPS fleet tracker is attached to your commercial vehicle. The tracker connects to a group of satellites and transmits the vehicle’s location.

The tracker applies a trilateration process that uses the position of at least three satellites from the global navigation satellite system (GNSS) network and the tracker’s distance from them. 

From trilateration, the GPS tracker identifies the vehicle’s latitude and longitude coordinates (including time and elevation) and emits a signal with the data in real-time.

A wireless carrier tower picks up the signal and the transmitted coordinates and relays them to a cloud server. If you use fleet tracking or management software, you can connect to that cloud server and obtain real-time GPS data about your vehicle’s location.

The benefits of GPS fleet tracking

GPS fleet tracking may have started as a way to keep drivers from getting lost, but it provides many valuable benefits to companies with vehicles on the road. 

Other benefits include:

Location alerts

To determine where a company’s drivers, vehicles, and assets are at any given moment, all a fleet manager needs to do is look at their computer. This eliminates unnecessary guessing or time-consuming phone calls and lets fleet managers view their assets’ location in real time.

Fleet managers can also inform customers of delivery times almost down to the minute, which means happier and satisfied clients and repeat customers.

Route planning and analysis

GPS fleet tracking also helps in route planning. Routes often change due to road maintenance or severe weather conditions. With GPS tracking, managers can view and analyze various routes to determine the quickest and best possible path.

Information transparency and real-time communication

The real-time information gathered from a GPS fleet tracking system can be shared with customers and internal staff, ensuring total visibility into where any vehicle is located.

Using GPS location, dispatchers can inform customers when the driver will arrive without placing the driver in the dangerous position of having to use their cell phone or radio while behind the wheel.

Types of GPS fleet tracking

GPS fleet tracking systems generally have two main types: active and passive.

Active GPS tracking

Active GPS trackers send real-time location data to a cloud server, relying on constant connection for continuous location monitoring and seamless fleet tracking management.

Active GPS trackers process and send real-time data, giving fleet managers visibility into vehicle movements and locations and delivering alerts anytime and anywhere.

Passive GPS tracking

Passive GPS trackers store data at intervals or when trigger events occur, such as when the vehicle reaches the location, crosses a geofence, or detects pre-programmed actions.

Passive trackers then send the gathered data to the server for analysis. Since this GPS tracking type doesn’t rely on a constant connection, data collection is generally performed through manual downloads following fleet operations.

Most modern fleet tracking devices use a mix of active and passive tracking activities, including  routine and immediate data uploading in real-time and storing and sending data later.

Combined active and passive tracking capabilities are useful, especially when vehicles pass through remote areas with limited or no satellite and cellular networks since data updates can resume when the connection returns.

Companies that use GPS fleet tracking

GPS technology plays a crucial role in commercial fleet vehicle tracking and management in a variety of companies and organizations.

Delivery fleets

Delivery companies use GPS fleet tracking to monitor vehicle movement and location and ensure on-time, seamless delivery services.

These companies check whether their vehicles are constantly moving and taking the recommended route. They ensure their drivers move at reasonable speeds and can deliver customer orders by the promised arrival time.

If a vehicle gets stuck for some reason, delivery companies can use GPS data to verify the vehicle location and plan accordingly.

Delivery service fleets also use GPS tracking to share relevant data with their customers. This information includes the delivery vehicles’ real-time location and the packages’ estimated time of arrival (ETA). These details allow customers to track orders and when to expect to receive them.

GPS tracking systems can even notify managers when their commercial driver has completed a delivery and can receive new or further instructions, return to the distribution center (or store), or sign off.

Passenger transit companies (taxis, limousines, car services, etc.)

Passenger transit companies use a global system for mobile communications (GSM) and GPS tracking to allow fleet managers to dispatch commercial drivers more efficiently.

GSM and GPS make it quick and easy for the closest drivers to get to the client pickup point, significantly reducing wait times and guaranteeing improved customer satisfaction.

Using mobile devices with GPS also helps passenger transit drivers by streamlining the transaction process and displaying the route, location, traffic conditions, and price for the journey.

Bus fleets

Bus companies use GPS fleet tracking systems for accurate location announcements at bus stops and route planning.

It can provide data on the vehicle’s exact location and speed. The system will then cross-reference this information with traffic updates to accurately estimate each vehicle’s arrival time at every bus stop.

This capability helps streamline fleet tracking management while delivering timely transport services to passengers.

Construction fleets

Vehicle, property, and materials theft is a frequent occurrence in construction. Since most construction areas are expansive, building materials, tools, and even heavy equipment can’t be monitored or watched 24/7, resulting in theft and loss.

GPS tracking provides construction superintendents with real-time monitoring of everything on-site.

Using geofencing, a specific job site perimeter can be programmed, allowing construction fleet companies to set up a virtual boundary around their construction site. When anything with a GPS tracking device leaves that perimeter, the fleet or safety manager, or a member of the back-office staff is instantly notified.

Integrate GPS fleet tracking in your commercial fleet

Using GPS fleet tracking can increase your productivity, enable your drivers and fleet managers to collaborate better, and deliver a better experience to your customers.