The number of fleet managers using different types of vehicle tracking system is increasing. This is not surprising considering the immense benefits one can gain from fleet tracking, though investing in fleet vehicle tracking systems can be quite expensive. Companies with vehicle tracking systems usually have a device attached to a software in the main office where all pieces of information concerning the fleet such as location, speed, distance traveled, and maintenance details are accessible by the fleet manager.
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Due to the benefits that a vehicle tracking system can offer for fleet efficiency, these systems have increasingly become popular among fleet managers. Drivers no longer have to equip themselves with piles of map to find their way. Instead, fleet tracking tools that aid fleet businesses will be the one to provide turn-by-turn direction to their intended destination. Vehicle tracking systems also help cut down delivery delays and reduce fuel cost, which are all important in fleet management operation.
Choosing the Right Type of Vehicle Tracking System
Deciding which vehicle tracking system is right for your fleet is important to ensure you enjoy the investment’s maximum benefits. There are a number of factors to take into consideration when choosing a vehicle tracking system. Which factors are more important to your business will largely depend on how many vehicles you have and how you’re using them. So think carefully about what’s of prime importance for your business.
There are a number of advantages by installing a tracking system in your fleet. Here are a few:
- More efficient management of the fleet
- Lesser fuel consumption
- Making sure you’re opting for the best routes around a given area for your vehicle
- Reduction of insurance premiums and by improving the chances of vehicle recovery in the event of theft
- Increased asset productivity
- Predictive maintenance through vehicle health monitoring
- Reduction of unnecessary downtime
- Quick emergency response
- Employee management
- Driver and vehicle safety
- Time management
- Improved communication with customers by providing real-time information of the location of the delivery vehicle
- Improved customer feedback
Different Types of Vehicle Tracking Systems
Vehicle tracking can be categorized into two main categories, depending on the time of data transmission: active and passive tracking. Each has various benefits and drawbacks.
Passive vehicle tracking systems
Also known as GPS loggers, passive vehicle tracking systems gather data about the vehicle’s location and store it on a hard drive or memory card, which you can then access at a later time. To use the device, you simply place it in or on the vehicle. When you want to access the information collected by the tracker, simply plug the device into a computer. Passive systems include auto downloads that transfer data via wireless download. After the data has been extracted, the data can then be displayed in a detailed driving summary report, over an animated digital street mapping program or with Google Earth, allowing the user to know every location the target vehicle went, how long the target vehicle was at each stop, and more.
With passive vehicle tracking systems, users only have to pay one time upon purchase and installation of the device. This is why passive tracking systems are a common choice for fleets. Each purchase already includes both hardware and software plus a database.
Passive tracking systems don’t provide real-time tracking, making it unhelpful in times of emergency such as road accidents or theft. However, this problem can be easily solved by installing additional models on the vehicle for an additional cost. These add-on tools allow the system to track vehicles live, which enables fleet managers to know the vehicle’s speed and location at any given time.
- No need to worry about signals. Passive systems are not dependent upon cellular towers to transmit data on any form of wireless device. Since the data is stored directly on the device, you don’t have to worry about maintaining a link to the device from a receiver. All you have to do is download the information at your convenience.
- Simple functionality. This is the simplest type of device, making it easy to use and learn.
- No monthly subscription. GPS loggers don’t require a monthly subscription or have any ongoing fees after purchase. This makes them more affordable than active trackers.
- No real-time data. This means that if you’re wondering where the vehicle is at any given moment, you’ll need to wait until the vehicle returns to find out. This type of device can’t help police locate your vehicle if it’s stolen.
- Hassle. Typically, you have to physically remove the device from the vehicle for every time you download the information. This can be inconvenient for some.
- Lack of precision. The lack of real-time data transmission also means that delivery time cannot be precisely calculated. Predictions have to be calculated beforehand. So it’s much more frequent that the customer gets his goods late or that the vehicle gets back to the base later than it should, compared with active tracking systems.
- Possible incompatibility. Some devices aren’t compatible with all computers and operating systems.
Active vehicle tracking system
Active vehicle tracking systems collect the same data as passive tracking systems but transmit the data in near-real time or in real time via cellular or satellite networks to a computer or data center for evaluation. This type of tracking system is more complex but offers more advantages brought by its functions, as having access to information from active trackers can lead to more effective business.
To use the device, you install it in the vehicle. Often, this involves plugging it into a port on the car. Then you subscribe to a service that sends updates to your mobile phone or computer.
Cellular tracking. This kind of vehicle tracking is the most economical system to set up. It uses cellular networks to transmit fleet location information. Through an app and internet connection, you will have the option to view the data or edit your tracking settings. The system is not that updated; however, location is relayed in either every 1 to 10 minutes, depending on your chosen subscription. You have to pay a monthly fee to avail this system service.
Satellite-based tracking. Though the device itself and the monthly fees can be very expensive, shipping and trucking companies prefer satellite-based tracking because it gives detailed reports and real-time updates on company fleets and employees, even in places where there is no cellphone coverage. This means that you can easily track the assets anywhere in the world.
- Real-time data. You know where the vehicle is at all times, not just after it arrives back.
- Convenience. This system is convenient, since there’s no need to physically remove the tracking device from the car and plug it into the computer.
- No compatibility issues. You don’t have to worry about whether the device works with your computer system, since you receive updates over the Internet.
- Legal help. The police can use this type of tracking device to locate a stolen vehicle.
- Needs subscription. In order to receive data from your active tracker, you need to subscribe to a service. This is typically about $5 to $60 per month, depending on the model.
- Signal sensitivity. Without a clear and strong signal, your device can’t accurately establish your location. Tall buildings, dense foliage, mountains, and even reflective objects can cause such a problem.
To summarize, passive tracking systems focus more on recording and storing tracking information, which can be downloaded from a computer at a later time, while active tracking systems transmit the same kind of tracking information but in real time.
One of the many important advancements of today is the development of real-time GPS trackers. While these trackers are reasonably more expensive than trackers that don’t operate in real time, active tracking systems are the best option for tracking business assets and vehicles as they provide accurate tracking information and instant, continuous location monitoring.
There are several advantages associated with choosing an active vehicle tracking system. The main reasons that most people prefer active tracking systems are security and convenience. Instead of waiting to download the data to a computer (as in the case of passive tracking systems), active tracking systems do not require any waiting. Since real-time GPS trackers come with an app and/or software that allows a user to track a loved one or asset in real time, monitoring their location is simply a matter of sitting in front of a computer or with your phone in hand. Active vehicle tracking systems, most importantly, allow you to act immediately in times of need. Should your vehicles or assets get stolen, active vehicle tracking systems can alert you instantly and provide you their exact location.
When selecting a vehicle tracking system, one must consider the entire fleet’s present and future needs. After you make the decision between active and passive vehicle tracking systems, your GPS shopping will be much simpler.
Hope we helped.
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