If you have any connection to the fleet industry today, you’ve likely come across the buzz surrounding GPS fleet tracking. But what is GPS fleet tracking, and how does it work? More importantly, how can GPS fleet tracking help fleet managers conduct their business more efficiently and effectively?
What Is GPS?
The Global Positioning System (GPS) works based on data from a vast web of 24 satellites in orbit around the world. These satellites broadcast radio signals at the speed of light with precise time data. A GPS device here on earth receives these signals from all the GPS satellites within its field of view. It then uses the times provided by the satellites to calculate precisely how far it is from each one. Using the precise distance from at least four of the satellites in orbit, the device can then calculate exactly where it is in 3D.
Many are surprised to know that GPS is actually an entity entirely owned and operated by the US military. Further, you probably assume that GPS uses locations to map things out, but in reality, the most important data in the system is time.
This entire system was created and maintained by the US government. The GPS Master Control Station is located at Schriever Air Force Base (AFB) in Colorado, with an alternate station at Vandenberg AFB in California. These stations are entirely staffed by military personnel, and the air force is also in charge of launching new satellites to replace those that are no longer functioning optimally.
How Is GPS Used to Track Fleets?
GPS is an essential component of modern life, and perhaps nowhere is this as true as in a commercial fleet. When a fleet implements GPS tracking into their operations, they install GPS devices in each of their vehicles. In some cases, this is a separate device plugged or wired into the vehicle’s on-board computer. In other cases, the fleet may install tablets or other devices with GPS capabilities and use those to connect with the system.
No matter what type of device is used, the data provided by the GPS is used to keep track of the position of each fleet vehicle as they go about their business. The device can monitor not only the location and movement of its vehicle but also many types of driver behavior and status.
7 Benefits Fleets Gain from GPS Fleet Tracking
One primary reason many fleets adopt GPS tracking is that it’s required by law. The ELD Mandate has been in effect for most fleets for a few years. It requires fleets to install ELDs – GPS devices that monitor hours of service (HOS) status for all drivers, ensuring that they don’t go over the legally prescribed limits.
While compliance is undoubtedly an important consideration, it’s only the tip of the iceberg for GPS fleet tracking. As we’re about to explore, the data provided by such devices is useful in many areas of fleet management.
- Better Safety
Any fleet manager will tell you that one of their primary functions is to ensure that fleet drivers are as safe as possible as they go about their daily routes. One of the best ways to promote fleet safety today is by analyzing data provided by fleet GPS trackers to pinpoint and correct dangerous driving behaviors.
The best GPS fleet tracking devices also offer reporting that can tell you which drivers are prone to bad habits like speeding or hard braking. Programs like Azuga Coach or Driver Safety Rewards can then help encourage and train drivers to adhere to best practices for their own safety and that of other drivers.
- Efficient Routing
Keeping your drivers safe on the road is an important pursuit, but so is operational efficiency. Time spent sitting in traffic or driving the long way around to get to each destination costs your fleet money and can cause you to lose business if your drivers are constantly late to their destinations.
GPS tracking, in addition to keeping track of your vehicles on the road, can also track traffic patterns. When incorporated into dispatch, it can be used to ensure drivers are given the most efficient route to each destination, bypassing traffic congestion, road construction, and other hazards. When your drivers are able to get around town faster, they become more efficient and able to handle more stops each day. What fleet manager doesn’t want that?
- Easier Maintenance
It’s no secret that some fleets struggle to keep track of maintenance on each of their vehicles. Oil changes, tire rotations, air filter replacements, and dozens of other mundane maintenance tasks are all done on their own schedules, and keeping track of everything can be a challenge.
Advanced GPS tracking systems can interface with the vehicles they track to provide data and reminders that make scheduling routine maintenance a breeze. Fleet managers can schedule procedures for times when the fleet is less busy, accounting for actual miles driven and engine hours rather than merely scheduling based on the calendar. With improved maintenance schedules, vehicles can run more efficiently and remain on the road longer.
- Reduced Downtime
Fleet downtime is a problem whenever it occurs. A vehicle in the garage instead of on the road is not helping the business achieve its goals. While some downtime is inevitable, GPS tracking can help fleets minimize its occurrence and duration.
By improving driver safety and vehicle maintenance as mentioned above, you can reduce the incidence of accidents and breakdowns. GPS trackers can also help track how often vehicles need maintenance and repair, offering valuable information that helps fleets know when to replace vehicles for better efficiency and performance.
- Fuel Efficiency
One major topic of conversation in the fleet industry is the price of fuel and how to boost fuel efficiency. GPS tracking can help here, too. Better routing means less fuel wasted sitting in traffic, and trackers can also provide detailed reports on engine idling and other wasteful practices. A thorough fleet management system can even interface with your favorite gas cards to provide further tracking data and savings.
- Theft Recovery
Finally, while no fleet wants to think about it, fleet vehicle theft is a significant problem that must be addressed. With a GPS tracking system installed in your vehicles, you’ll have a far better chance of vehicle recovery after a theft. If you add on devices like dual-facing dashcams to show who is in the driver’s seat and geofencing to alert fleet managers when vehicles aren’t where they should be, you can further boost theft prevention and recovery.
Get These Benefits and More with Azuga Fleet
Azuga Fleet is an advanced fleet GPS tracking system that offers all of the benefits above, and many more. We have options suitable for nearly any type of fleet and vehicle, with simplified billing and US-based customer support whenever you need it. Contact Azuga today to learn how Azuga can make your fleet safer, more efficient, and more profitable.