Tracking and managing via GPS

It doesn’t take hundreds of vehicles to understand just how difficult operating a fleet-dependent business can be. For those who operate in field services industries, such as plumbers, HVAC technicians, electricians, mobile mechanics and so on, keeping track of vehicles and employees can be a challenge, but technology can help. 

Business owners are always looking for new ways to stay ahead, whether it’s finding cost efficiencies,
methods to increase productivity, opportunities to enhance safety, or a chance to improve the service
delivered to their customers. Whether you run a large corporation or a small shop with a handful of trucks, the features of a modern GPS fleet-tracking and management system can help most businesses find new insights and gain a whole new level of control over their operations. 

Staying in the loop
Real-time vehicle tracking is the key feature of any GPS fleet-tracking system. The constant flow of information enables features like driver-behaviour monitoring, event alerts, geofencing, theft recovery, and more. 

As the name suggests, live tracking enables users to find the exact location and status of each vehicle at any time. 

When paired with an efficient fleet management software package, GPS tracking opens the door to a variety of information that can be analyzed and used to monitor fuel usage, employee driving habits, route efficiency, maintenance schedules, job progress, and much more. 

With mobile and web-based user portals, business owners and managers can rest assured knowing they’re always in the loop.

It’s a service van, not an F1 car

Aggressive driving can be damaging to a company’s reputation. It can also increase the risk of accidents and adds to fuel and maintenance bills. 

With feedback from a GPS tracking system, such driving behaviours as speeding, aggressive acceleration and hard braking can be minimized, or even eliminated altogether. Simply knowing that a company vehicle is GPS-enabled is often enough to change employee driving habits. 

Business owners can also set alerts that send emails or text messages to let them know when an employee has exceeded a pre-determined threshold. 

In the event that an employee chooses to ignore speed limits or decides to treat a company vehicle like it’s a race car heading toward a corner, in-cab alerts can be set to emit audible tones, reminding the driver that they are on the clock, not the track. 

Targeting fuel savings 

Fuel is an unavoidable cost for any business with fleet vehicles. While a monthly fuel bill can’t be eliminated, GPS tracking provides quite a few opportunities for lowering it. 

The first step in lowering fuel costs is slowing down a fleet. Fuel consumption can be up to 20 per cent greater when travelling at 120 km/h as opposed to 100 km/h. 

Between real-time text alerts and in-cab driver alerts, businesses can make sure their drivers aren’t cutting into the bottom line with a heavy foot. 

Reducing idling is another surprisingly effective method for lowering fuel costs. Simply put, idling gets zero kilometres per litre. Modern GPS tracking systems can monitor total and average vehicle idle time per vehicle, arming business owners with the information needed to work with employees on changing their habits. 

Setting up a virtual gatekeeper

When vehicles equipped with a GPS tracking device enter or exit a geofenced area, fleet operators can receive instant notifications via text message or email. A geofence is a virtual area that can be created on the map in a GPS fleet-tracking system. This area can be any shape or size, can be tied to any area or roadway, and can be tailored to specific needs. 

These virtual perimeters enable more accurate billing and dispatching since arrival and departure times can be recorded, and the technology also adds to the overall security of your 

fleet vehicles. With geofence notifications, users can track and respond to unauthorized or unexpected movement, like employee moonlighting or if a theft is in progress. 

The versatility of the geofencing tool makes it one of the most popular features of modern GPS tracking systems.

Knowing where your trucks are – at all times 

The addition of a GPS system not only keeps track of where an asset is at any given time, but it is also incredibly useful in recovery efforts in the event of theft. 

And simply having a GPS system may discourage theft altogether – provided that the tracked vehicle is clearly marked. Potential thieves may think twice if the risk of being caught is high. 

Theft prevention aside, adding GPS tracking increases the overall peace of mind for business owners. With the ability to set movement alerts, there’s no assuming that a vehicle is where it’s supposed to be; users can keep track from wherever they are. 

Keeping a virtual paper trail 

While the real-time monitoring of vehicles is incredibly useful, the value of historical data is often underrated. With a GPS tracking system, users always have access to the data backups from commercial fleet vehicles. Driving distances and time spent on location, number of completed tasks, number of stops made, and driving speeds can all be recorded through GPS tracking. 

The ability to reference this past data can also help with billing, payroll, maintenance scheduling, incident investigation and resolving customer complaints. 

Using vehicle data goes far beyond keeping an eye on speeding, it can provide insights into resource planning, driving optimization, and time schedule management to improve the overall performance of the vehicle fleet. 

Scheduling and monitoring maintenance 

The overall mechanical condition of a business’ vehicles has a direct influence on the company’s bottom line. Fleet vehicles will experience wear-and-tear and require maintenance to keep them operating smoothly. Regular and prompt maintenance lowers the risk of costly breakdowns and failures that can result in downtime or total loss. 

Modern GPS systems can help businesses increase the lifespan of vehicles and minimize maintenance and repair expenses through intelligent maintenance scheduling. Rather than trying to keep track of receipts, work orders, or whatever other scheduling method is in place, GPS users can use vehicle data and the GPS interface to set alerts to remind them of upcoming or past-due services based on engine hours, kilometres or date. 

Good for the truck, and the technician

GPS tracking systems offer a lot of value to business owners, but perhaps the most important benefit is the increase in safety. 

Adding a GPS tracking system can significantly increase safety in a number of ways. Holding drivers accountable for speed and providing alerts for unsafe driving habits is often enough to reduce the chances of an accident. In fact, many businesses that implement GPS tracking see a 50 to 99 per cent decrease in aggressive or unsafe driving events. 

Maintenance monitoring through a GPS system also provides the added benefit of increased driver safety. Staying on top of vehicle health can lower the chance of mechanical failure on the road and reduce the risk of a driver being stuck alone on the side of the road because of a breakdown. 

Bent Jensen Jr. is the founder & CEO of AutoConnect GPS, a Canadian-based fleet tracking solutions provider that operates from coast to coast. He can be reached at [email protected]