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What is a vehicle tracking system and how do they work?
Vehicles tracking systems have been used for decades, but it is only now that we are seeing them used on a large scale across many industries. Previously this technology was used in military arenas and was costly to implement. Nowadays the technology has become widespread and is cheap and reliable.
Active vehicle tracking follows the vehicle continually. It provides updates and relays the vehicles current location back to the main software. An active vehicle tracking solution tends to be more expensive than a passive solution but it has many advantages which can lead to quicker and more effective business solutions.
Passive vehicle tracking, monitors vehicles in a different way. Instead of consistently logging information a passive tracker may take readings at intervals. It notes location, direction of travel and speed. It may also monitor a vehicles information without making it readily available or relaying it back to software. The data can then be searched at a later point in most instances. Passive vehicle trackers can be cost effective in comparison to active trackers and are easy to install and implement.
Let’s now look at the top 20 vehicle tracking features and what they can do. Some features are supplier dependent, but we thought that having an idea of what the systems can do will give you a better understanding of what you want them to do for your fleet.
1. Fuel Card Integration. You can integrate your fuel card with your fleet tracking system to combine rates and mileage. This will help you actively monitor expenditure to the nearest pound in real time.
2. Satnav Integration. Got a GARMIN satnav? You can collaborate your route planners with some fleet management systems allowing you to become the ultimate puppet master and adjust driver routes in real time.
3. Mobile Application. Most fleet management systems also come with a mobile app, allowing your transport manager to either work from the road themselves or work remotely, say from a poolside in Spain?
4. Geofencing. Is your truck not emissions compliant for London? No problem, most fleet systems allow you to limit where a vehicle can and can’t go. Giving you the peace of mind that the route is not going to cause you a whole lot of bureaucratic headaches.
5. Driver ID. Each driver will be allocated an ID with most systems that allow you to track the driver data across multiple vehicles if need be. We all know in the ideal world that a driver stays with one tractor but in the real world we know this rarely happens all of the time.
6. Alerts. Alerts will flag up like message boxes, telling you important information as it happens. An example of tis would be that Driver 2 has made his delivery and is now onto the next job. Helpful alerts make sure you’re not confused about which job a driver is on.
7. Anti-Theft. Simple really, if your vehicle goes missing then simply use the tracker to locate it. If you have a fleet of new Volvo lorries this small outlay in cost is going to be a drop in the ocean compared to the on road value if it is stolen.
8. Goods in transit anti-theft. Works the same as the tractor but for the trailer. A vehicle tracking device can be placed on both and then paired up. There have been instances when a fleet manager has called his driver during a rest break and informed them they have been robbed because the trailer is on the move without the tractor unit.
9. Tachographs. All fleet management systems have the functionality to encompass tachographs as well. Meaning that you can always be comforted to know that you’re compliant. What’s more is it is in real time. So if ever the traffic commissioner pays a visit you can show him on the screen as it is all happening.
10. Telematics data. Like the black boxes that insurers put in your car, fleet trackers can tell you all manner of information including braking reaction times, speeds and acceleration data. Giving you an accurate picture of how your drivers re treating their vehicles beyond the yard gates. Telematics will also flag dangerous or illegal driving through the alerts system which will mean you can tackle it before it becomes a legal nightmare.
11. Saved routes. Does a certain van always do the same route on a Monday? Simply program routes in and re-use them as needed. Or if they are at regular intervals then tell your system that and lo and behold the next time it is all done for you.
12. Performance reports. This is a great way of checking fuel consumption and MPG; performance reports give you all you need to know about how efficiently each vehicle is working.
13. Maintenance reports. Much like performance reports but focusing more on mechanical and technical issues that will flag up in real time and allow you to assess the vehicle when it returns to the yard.
14. GPS tracking. The feature you would expect all fleet tracking systems to have. This tells you where each vehicle is in the world, in real time.
15. Route Planning. We mentioned being a puppet master with the Satnavs, but you need the facility to route plan inbuilt in your fleet management software to do this.
16. Traffic alerts. Get up to date traffic information as it develops, including incidents, road works and even slow moving or stand still traffic. When route planning having a system that can plan around delays is phenomenal.
17. Fleet Management Software. This is the hub, where you access all of the information, both real time, future routes and historical information held for compliance or audit purposes.
18. Driver leader boards. Some providers encourage a bit of healthy competition to get the best from them. Finally Andrew can celebrate that he is the most economical driver for the week just gone.
19. Fuel savings. Some software goes as far as to tell you where driving improvements can be made to maximise that all important MPG. It uses driver telematics and fuel efficiency figures to create an overall profile.
20. Accounting suites. Some fleet tracking systems combine everything and do all of your accounting for you. We can hear the fear of transport managers everywhere wondering how soon it is before the job role is obsolete, but for now you will still need to help the system along considerably so don’t get overly worried just yet.
There are many other nifty and unique features available from a range of providers. Some of them make your job significantly easier, while others give you that little extra to think about. When considering a package, it is important that you prioritise features as being in 3 categories. The ones you need for your business, the ones beyond that category that you would like but don’t need. Finally highlight the ones of little to no value. Being able to have a clear picture of what you want will mean that you also have a package built up in your mind. The provider that then provides that bespoke package at the cheapest rate is likely to be your winner.
Some features like the driver leader boards may seem like a novelty, but they actually do have a morale boosting effect on the work force as well as a more conservative fuel consumption which results in a more productive and efficient team. So carefully consider each feature, as it is likely to have far reaching implications beyond an initial opinion.
We hope you have found our guide helpful and you understand more about vehicle tracking systems and the type of system you need. More than anything we have tried to make things straightforward and transparent to enable you to make the decision that best suits you. If you have questions, then fill in our quote form and you will be contacted by leading providers who can answer all your queries!
Also, don’t forget to check out our Top 10 recommended vehicle tracking suppliers to help you on your way.