GPS fleet tracking (Global Positioning System) is the implementation of fleet management software and GPS vehicle tracking devices which track the location of each individual vehicle within a company’s fleet. The tracking of vehicles enables companies to collect data about the usage of vehicles as well as the location of each driver in real-time. It is also not uncommon to hear people or businesses mention GSM tracking (Global System for Mobile Communications), this is the system used in tracking mobile devices, such as phones or tablets and can also be used in fleet tracking systems.
GSM and GPS Fleet Tracking
GSM and GPS fleet tracking comprises of three key components which work together to form a complete GPS tracking system; the tracking device itself (hardware), the GPS tracking server and the user interface (software).
GSM and GPS tracking devices usually come in the form of a box which is fitted either inside or on the body of each vehicle. These tracking devices collect and send data about the vehicle and driver to a central server. The GSM and GPS fleet tracking server serves three purposes.
- Receiving vehicle data
- Securely storing vehicle data
- Reporting the data to the driver and fleet manager through the user interface.
Information which can be captured by the tracker includes; engine information, such as fuel levels and temperature; driving details, such as taillight, indicator usage, harsh braking and driver behaviour and much more all in real-time. Vehicle tracking data that has been collected via the GPS tracking device and sent to the server is then displayed in a digestible manner for fleet manager’s to interpret and analyse with the aim of improving fleet efficiency and productivity. The GPS tracking interface may include maps, charts and graphs to display the data collected from vehicles in the way which is most suitable for both the type of data and the company using it.
Satellite and Cellular Tracking
Although GSM and GPS fleet tracking use the same method of collecting and serving data, GPS is the preferred option among SME’s and large organisations that employ fleet management solutions. GPS fleet tracking systems utilise satellite networks to transmit data back to the user interface as opposed to relying on cellular tracking which can be limited, especially in areas where cellular coverage is sparse (the outback etc). Satellite networks can provide greater coverage and therefore, far more reliable than cellular tracking systems. In fact, some fleet tracking systems offer vehicle trackers that incorporate both GSM tracking and GPS tracking to provide a holistic vehicle tracking system.
GPS Satellite Tracking and Geofences
Furthermore, GPS tracking systems utilising satellite networks are often employed as anti-theft prevention devices in many organisations. Police can track the satellite location of vehicles to aid the return of stolen vehicles and potentially catch the thief at the same time. In addition, some GPS systems have the added functionality to control different parts of vehicles via a remote computer, ranging from locking doors to immobilising engines completely. The incorporation of a GPS fleet tracking systems can also assist in reducing insurance costs by mitigating the risk of vehicle theft through car security systems and providing real-time alerts that notify a phone or computer system when a vehicle has moved out of an authorised area, otherwise known as a geofence.
Passive and Active GPS Fleet Tracking
GPS tracking systems Can be broken down into two main types – active and passive.
Active GPS tracking
Active tracking is the submission of data in real-time to the server, it relies on a constant connection and is used for constant location monitoring purposes.
Passive GPS tracking
Passive tracking is the storage of data at set intervals, or when a trigger event occurs, such as a location being reached, a geofence being crossed or an action being done to the vehicle, like key usage or door activity. This data is sent to the server once the action or time period happens and is evaluated using this data, this type of tracking does not rely on a constant connection and the data collected often tends to be downloaded manually following fleet operations.
GPS fleet tracking devices tend to use a mixture of both passive and active tracking activities; this can include a normal routine of uploading data immediately when a connection is available, but also the ability of storing and sending data at a later time when the system detects that a connection is unavailable, to then resume the immediate updates when the connection returns. This is especially beneficial in remote areas of Australia where satellite and cellular networks may not be available.
Commercial Uses of GPS Fleet Vehicle Tracking
GPS fleet tracking is an essential part of commercial vehicle tracking. Read the examples below to discover how GPS tracking is used in a commercial environment to provide effective transport management solutions.
Bus and Coach Fleets
Many bus and coach services in Australia will have already adopted GPS location trackers, which are used in the effective management of efficient route planning and number announcements at bus stops. Bus and coach services also benefit from locating exactly where each bus is, how fast it is travelling, and by cross-referencing this information with traffic updates, they can accurately estimate the arrival time at each bus stop or coach destination.
Delivery services, most notably fast food or parcel delivery services adopt satellite GPS tracking to enable customer to track where their items are. This acts as a multiple-use system, as it can also notify the delivery office that a driver has completed their task and is ready to receive further instructions, return to the depot or be signed off. The ability to be able to remotely tell when a delivery has been carried out offers extra protection to a company in the event of receiving a complaint against a driver or failure to deliver goods, as the location being logged on a system gives the business extra evidence, should legal action be taken against them.
Taxi companies have adopted GSM and GPS tracking systems, to enable the controller to issue orders and fares to drivers with better ease and to ensure customer satisfaction by directing the driver who is closest to the pick-up point for a shorter wait-time. The systems can also be programmed to let the controller know when doors have opened or closed, which alerts them to a free cab or completed fare.
Alongside being useful for controllers, GPS fleet trackers can benefit the drivers. Many cab drivers now have a screen within their vehicle displaying their location, route, price and the traffic conditions for their journey, which enables both the driver and passenger to know exactly what is happening with the business transaction. This system works in much the same way as a GPS Satellite navigation system, but the extra features mean that it has more uses and benefits for the taxi company, driver and customer overall.
Advantages of Investing in a GPS Fleet Tracking System
As seen throughout, GPS and GSM tracking devices offer the opportunity to improve fleet performance whilst also boost the user experience for customers, meaning greater customer satisfaction and loyalty. With an increased understanding and ease-of-access to vehicle data, the company’s fleet movements and needs can be better understood and managed. As a result, GPS fleet systems are considered to be extremely beneficial.