GPS Fleet Tracking Systems Explained

GPS Fleet Tracking Systems Explained

GPS Fleet tracking systems utilize GPS tracking devices and fleet tracking software to delivery real time and historic travel data associated with fleets of vehicles.

More simply, fleet owners and managers can know where their vehicles are, where their vehicles have been, and whether their workers are being productive.

Fleet Tracking System Components offered by a Trusted GPS Fleet Tracking Provider

A fleet tracking system, using GPS tracking, will consist of a few major components working together.  Depending on the level of sophistication, these can be simple or quite complex and could include dispatching and could integrate with your billing and invoicing systems.

  • GPS Tracking Devices
    • Every GPS fleet tracking system starts with tracking devices.  Whether you need a vehicle tracking device for a work truck, a car, or a semi tractor, the core component of a device that receives GPS location information from the GPS satellite network is the first component.  These devices, the ones that work in “real time”, send the location data back to a server to be processed.
    • GPS Tracking Device Types
      • OBD II Tracking Device – These devices will use the power supply in the OBD II port which is available in most cars and trucks manufactured since 1996.  Additional information is available from these devices and might include ignition start and stop information as well as other information about the vehicle’s status.  The great benefit of these devices for fleet managers and owners is that the install takes about 30 seconds and anyone can do it.  The one drawback is that they can be removed just as easily.
      • Installed Vehicle Tracking Devices – These devices – These devices can range quite a bit in capabilities, but most perform the basic function of reporting location, speed, using geofences, and triggering on speed thresholds.  The great benefit of these devices is that they are concealed and not easy to remove.  So, a disgruntled worker cannot remove such a device as easily as they might remove an OBD II tracking device.  The tradeoff is that someone has to install the device.  Fortunately, the installation of GPS tracking devices can be accomplished by anyone capable of installing a car stereo.
      • Asset Tracking Devices – We will cover these below, but they basically consist of trailer tracking devices and other applications that require a long life battery and the ability to be exposed to the elements.
  • Fleet Tracking Middleware – When GPS tracking devices send information to the GPS tracking service provider, the data is in a format that is not easily read by humans.  So, the fleet tracking systems have a component that translates that data and puts it into a database to be read by integrated systems or the fleet tracking system’s own user interface.
  • Mapping Software
    • Desktop – Most fleet tracking service providers have a web based mapping system that allows the user to see where the vehicles in the fleet are currently located and where they have been over time.
    • Mobile Devices – Fleet tracking providers are providing more of the fleet information on mobile platforms.  So, you should be able to see the location of all of your vehicles on your phone or a tablet.
fleet tracking system architecture

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fleet tracking systems savings

Fleet Tracking Services Cont…

  • Summary Reporting – These reports might give mileage information or information on how long vehicles are stopped at different locations.  These types of GPS tracking reports are usually used for analyzing the fleet’s performance over time.
  • Asset Tracking – As mentioned before, these types of devices are used for the tracking of trailers (trailer tracking), heavy equipment and other types of assets that aren’t necessarily involved in productivity savings as much as the management of the assets for usage and billing and, quite often, for theft recovery.
  • Exception Reporting – Exception reporting would include anything that is out of normal operation.
    • Speed Exceptions – Fleet tracking systems can include two types of speed exceptions.
      • Over a Threshold – This would be a top speed you do not want to ever see your vehicles exceed.  Maybe you want a hard cap at 70 MPH.  This would trigger an exception any time any of the vehicles exceeded 70 MPH.
      • Over the Posted Speed Limit – This would give  you an alert if a vehicle exceed a threshold above the posted speed limit.  So, if the threshold is 10 MPH over posted speed limit, a vehicle traveling 41 MPH in a 30 MPH speed zone would create an alert.
    • Geofences – Most GPS fleet tracking systems allow you to create a virtual fence to designate an area that you would like to know when a vehicle enters or exits.  Often, fleet managers will use these to let them know if a worker has gone somewhere they shouldn’t or simply to be alerted when a worker leaves a location.
    • Hard Starts and Stops – These exceptions alert fleet owners of dangerous driving habits.  A significant number of hard stops or fast starts would indicate poor driving that needs attention and is likely a safety problem.
    • Many More

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GPS Fleet Tracking Options

  • Passive Tracking – Passive GPS tracking involves putting a battery powered tracking device on a vehicle then retrieving it later to download the history of the vehicle’s travel.  This is the type of device that Hank on “Breaking Bad” used to attempt to track Walter White.  If Hank had used a real time tracker, he might be alive today (in the story that is…).
  • Real Time GPS Tracking – This type of GPS tracking involves the type of fleet tracking above.  In this case, data is sent from the device via cellular or satellite back to a server and is available immediately online or on a mobile phone.  So, Hank would have known when Walter was doing bad things long before Walter found the device and changed the data if he had only used a real time tracking device.
    • Real time tracking requires a monthly service fee to cover the software use and cellular or satellite services.
  • Dispatching – Some GPS tracking services allow for the dispatching of vehicles via in-cab navigation devices, like Garmin®.  These will send 2-way messages to drivers as well as “next stop” locations and can provide ETA information as well.
GPS fleet tracking system info