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Vehicle Tracking Systems Explained

 

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, reliable and helping businesses everywhere.

 

But what do vehicle tracking systems do? And why would they be a worthwhile investment for businesses?

 

In this we start with the basics, explaining what vehicle trackers do, how they work and why as a business owner you should consider them.

 

What is Vehicle Tracking?

 

Simply, vehicle tracking is monitoring your fleet of vehicles remotely from your main office (or even your own vehicle). There are many different types of vehicle trackers, and as you may well have guessed, plenty of software.

 

A vehicle tracking system combines the information from the monitoring tool (often a GPS vehicle tracker), relays it back to the central point (Office computer) and displays locations on software (normally a map screen with real time locations flagged).

 

It is at this point that I am going to start adding a couple of complexities so be warned, it is not all straightforward.

 

There are 2 types of vehicle tracking. “Active” vehicle tracking and “Passive” vehicle tracking.

 

Active vehicle tracking as you might imagine follows the vehicle continually, consistently updating and relaying the vehicles current location back to the main software.

 

Passive vehicle tracking, monitors vehicles in a different way. Instead of consistently logging information a passive tracker may take readings at intervals, noting location, direction of travel and speed. It may also consistently monitor a vehicles information without making it readily available or relaying it directly back to software. The data can then be searched at a later point in most instances.

 

How do vehicle tracking systems work?

 

Most vehicle tracking systems work using a Global Positioning System or GPS. This works in much the same way as when you turn on location settings on your iPhone and it pinpoints where you are. The GPS vehicle trackeing device will send out a signal to a satellite which will then isolate where that vehicle is and relay back the information to the software.

 

For the purpose of this article that is as in depth as I am going to get, the actual engineering and process of a GPS system is technical, and some aspects are complex, so I am going to keep it simple and tell you the basic information you need to know.

 

What can you use vehicle tracking systems for?

 

Now we get to the fun stuff. The practical applications of your vehicle trackers and how they can be a really great investment for your company. Hopefully this list although not exhaustive will encourage you to consider vehicle trackers as well as surprise you in terms of how far reaching the tech can be.

 

 

1. Knowing Where Your Vehicles Are

 

This is the simplest one, and one you had probably seen coming a mile off. The reason you might want to see where your vehicles are beyond checking up on your drivers are numerous. A good friend of mine is a transport manager for a large haulage firm with numerous lorries on the road every day. He explained that the vehicle trackers allow him to schedule work as it comes in. Instead of waiting for a vehicle to return back to the yard (and cost diesel as well) he can book in the lorries next job in transit. A lot of transport managers would love to have a lorry booked in advance for the week, but in the real world, jobs often come in on a rolling basis. Vehicle trackers allow transport managers to book in a drivers next job without them having to return to the yard. It also means that clients know exactly when they can expect the delivery to be made. Vehicle GPS and van tracking systems is pretty nifty in this respect and goes far beyond simply being “big brother”.

 

2. Retrieving Stolen Assets

 

Most vehicles now have some form of GPS vehicle tracker installed by the manufacturer. These trackers allow vehicle owners to have the confidence that providing the tracker remains intact that they will see their prized possession again. Police routinely recover stolen vehicles using this technology. But, it goes beyond the vehicles. In haulage fleets some of the trailers have tracking devices, some cargo even has tracking devices fitted. Ever noticed a lorry at the hard shoulder with the curtains of the trailer drawn back to show an empty trailer? This is to prevent curtain slashing, where by opportunist robbers will cut open the curtains while a driver sleeps in his cab and rob the trailer of its contents. Cargo theft is big criminal business and van tracking systems and devices on high value cargos have all been used by law enforcement to recover goods.

 

3. Insurance

 

This is a twofold option. First insurers themselves retrieve as much data about vehicles and their usage as possible. This is then collated to form big insurance data. Entire systems format this information to generate risk assessments. The information is studied and analysed by actuaries who in turn form educated opinions of risk. Insurers then use that to price policies. It is not just crash information that is significant. Insurers want to know their safest demographic as well as their riskiest, this allows them to spread the risk over everyone’s premiums. It’s one of the reasons car/vehicle insurance doesn’t really tend to get that much cheaper over time.

 

Secondly, some high value cargo will not even be handed to a haulage company unless they have the correct insurance policy. Some cargos are so unique that insurers will insist on trackers. This is especially true of specialist underwritten policies from Lloyds of London and is often applied to sensitive cargo such as weapons/weapons systems.

 

4. Fuel Monitoring

 

Ask any transport manager, one of the things they are always griping about is having to continually fuel their lorries. Add drivers that syphon off diesel into the mix and it is no wonder that fuel is a big bugbear for hauliers the world over. Tracking a vehicle allows a transport manager to calculate the distance and speed the lorry has travelled. It will also be effective in giving an accurate MPG figure. It immediately alerts a transport manager to an issue with the vehicle or driver if they are getting 5mpg instead of the 10mpg they were expecting.

 

5. Fleet Monitoring

 

This is true of all types of fleet. From the mighty hauliers and their extensive fleets to small local taxi firms. Rental firms like Hertz even use vehicle tracking systems to ensure they know where their rentals are at all times.

 

This extends to more specialist responses and uses for GPS vehicle trackers, refrigerated units sometimes flag a vehicle if the temperatures are considered outside of the set parameters. Some trailers have trackers that give visual feedback as well as a location. Clients can actually watch their cargo in transit in some cases.

 

We hope you have found the information about vehicle GPS interesting and useful! If you are interested in a quote from the leading vehicle tracking providers fill out our quote form and we will be in touch.

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