Fleet Tracking Systems Explained
If you have a fleet of vehicles you probably know all too well the stresses of managing it. Your day is probably littered with clients calling with new jobs, customers awaiting deliveries, and your drivers trying their best to keep up with the demand. Even if you run a quiet business there are many advantages to fleet tracking, but for those of you that deal with added levels of stress managing a fleet, the fleet tracking solution is going to be a no-brainer.
By the time you have read this, you will probably wonder why you hadn’t invested in a fleet tracking system sooner, especially as they are relatively inexpensive compared to the reward they provide. But, what may surprise you is that, if you don’t have a vehicle tracking system you’re in the majority. Only 1 in 5 fleet companies use a fleet tracking system. That is a remarkably low figure considering the features and benefits they bring to the firms that have taken the plunge.
What is fleet tracking?
Fleet tracking is a way that a transport manager or fleet manager keeps track of their vehicles. Without the fleet tracking systems, you will already be doing some form of fleet tracking however rudimentary it may be. A call to find out where your driver is for example is on its basic level fleet tracking.
In a sophisticated sense though, fleet tracking is utilising tech to provide you with all the information you could possibly want about your drivers and vehicles. Both in real-time and beyond.
Fleet tracking enables you to see an extremely wide range of things about your vehicles and can isolate potential issues as well. Ever wondered how a particular vehicle was using so much fuel? Well with a tracking system you can see a vehicle’s exact mileage and the software will oftentimes even calculate the MPG figure as well. This is particularly useful in identifying problems with that vehicle to reduce fuel costs/loss going forward.
Fleet tracking fits a tracking device to the vehicle, it is then relaying a signal to a satellite using GPS technology which then feeds you the information through software that would be installed on a central computer. Most software works as an interactive map, primarily showing each vehicle and its location by way of markers. Selecting a marker (vehicle) will then bring up further information about that vehicle. Sometimes there are 4 or more layers of interaction and information available.
What are the benefits?
There are 3 main benefits that transport managers report back over all others. We are going to look at each one and elaborate on why fleet tracking systems prove so successful in those areas.
1. Fuel Economy
For those fuel managers that like to keep their fuel costs to a minimum (who doesn’t?), a fleet tracking system takes all the complex maths calculations out of the equation and eliminates the guesswork that often drove up weekly fuel expenditure. A fleet tracking system will tell you the routes your drivers are taking (you can identify if they aren’t taking the fastest routes) and how many miles they are covering on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. You have your fuel card information, of course, so simply input that into the system and calculate a) how much fuel the vehicle is using as well as b) how often you will need to schedule a fuel stop.
This means you can identify fuel loss issues easily and with certainty, and also limit the time a lorry, for example, is running empty, by scheduling fuel stops along routes when your lorry is earning money. Transport managers have all reported savings on fuel costs since implementing fleet trackers. Sometimes given the cost of fuel; these are huge savings over a trading year.
2. Keeping your vehicles earning more often
Ever had a phone call from a client asking for a favour, a last-minute job to fit in? Then the ring round of all your drivers begins, trying to work out who can take the load and get it to its destination on time. An hour later you think you may have a solution, and you get back on the phone, but the job went to another haulier because they needed to get it booked immediately. A fleet tracking system has all of that information, immediately at your fingertips.
Using a fleet tracker enables transport managers and fleet managers to schedule all drop-offs and pick-ups often within the nearest 5 minutes. The interactive maps even show up-to-date traffic info allowing you to divert drivers if needed. Using a fleet tracking system eliminates the long hours trying to juggle your fleet, enabling trucks to not run empty and you to have a good work/life balance because you finish on time each day.
3. Vehicle maintenance
Surprisingly fleet trackers have the ability to flag vehicles that may need repair or checks. Basic fleet tracking systems don’t come with this option, so it is best to shop around and find a system that provides this facility for a minimal additional cost.
The fleet trackers monitor fuel consumption as mentioned and then flag issues if the system detects something is not right. Some trackers are so advanced they integrate with the vehicle computer to feedback on individual vehicle data to the main system.
Having this feature saves costs in the long run because preventative repairs are often cheaper than restorative repairs.
What are the features of a vehicle tracking system?
Below are 5 of the main features of a vehicle tracking system. This will help you narrow down a supplier that will work for your business and fit your needs.
Exactly as you would expect, this provides you “to the minute” information about your vehicles, displaying where they are on a central map.
Allows you to plan each vehicle’s route, if the vehicle has an onboard navigation system that is compatible you can even send route information in real-time to your drivers.
Especially important for the route planning function. You can redirect drivers according to traffic issues such as accidents or road works.
Driver Safety Analysis.
Do you have that one driver that seemingly has all the accidents (and all the costly insurance claims?) The fleet trackers will allow you to see exactly how they are driving the vehicle. Are they breaking heavily and often? Perhaps they are not paying attention to the road conditions around them. Having a driver safety analysis report from the system allows you to work with your drivers with information that is actionable. Rather than guesses and hunches.
Set milestones for your drivers, and then be alerted when they meet them, for example, if a driver makes delivery and is onto the next job. The fleet tracking system will let you know. You will never feel like you’re chasing your tail again trying to catch up with where each driver is.
There are many other great features available with a fleet tracking system so be sure to run through them all with your providers as you shop around to find the best one.
You don’t always need to purchase the entire system. If you are operating a small fleet and wish to keep costs down, larger fleets or even another local fleet can lease you the equipment.
Leasing or buying should be a familiar decision if you operate a fleet so take all the precautions you would if you were leasing or buying a vehicle and make sure you cost up overall to find the best solution.
When you have decided which fleet tracking system is right for your company you should make sure you track the improvements. You can set yourself goals to achieve while using the fleet tracking system. These can be professional such as fuel costs or personal like getting out of work on time.
Tracking your tracking system will yield the best results.