Businesses with large fleets of cars or trucks need an efficient way to track where their fleets are at any given time. Not only are these fleets a large business investment but they may be transporting valuable cargo. Losing even one car or truck can mean thousands of dollars of lost revenue.
Rental cars, commercial delivery trucks, and even taxi cabs can all benefit from having vehicle tracking installed. Rental car agents can know instantly when a certain car will arrive back to their lot; taxi dispatchers will know which cabs are closest to a client’s neighborhood; and delivery managers can make their routes more efficient which will save gas and time. All this is possible by simply knowing where their fleet is at all times.
Vehicle tracking systems can also help monitor a driver’s behavior, prevent theft, and determine when drivers are taking breaks. These records can also corroborate the vehicle’s mileage and gas consumption which has an impact on company profits.
Real time tracking is important because if any members of the fleet encounter problems, sending immediate help will reduce any loss. Using vehicle tracking to manage a fleet can also improve customer service, especially when you can tell a customer exactly when they will be picked up or when their delivery will arrive.
Vehicle tracking devices can easily be installed on each individual car or truck and they use simple mobile (cellular) networks to send the vehicle’s location to the server. There are three basic components to vehicle tracking that are necessary to purchase:
1. Tracking Unit Hardware – The physical box which is installed on the vehicle itself, comprised of a small processor, GPS, and GSM communication abilities.
2. Tracking Unit Software – The software which operates the physical hardware on each vehicle. Without this software, the tracking boxes are useless (think PC without an operating system).
3. A Tracking Server – The computer (generally in a data center) which receives and stores all the tracking information in one central location. This tracking information can then be posted to a map for easy viewing and fleet management.
The server can be housed in the business office or can be shared in a remote location by a third party. Usually these third party servers are available only by subscription. The hardware units can be purchased in bulk from a supplier and a business owner can even save money by doing the installation in house. Generally the hardware comes with the software already installed, so the one price gets both components. However it is also possible to purchase the components separately in order to get a better deal on the hardware directly from the manufacturer (rather than through a reseller) and then install the software yourself.
Even though the initial investment cost might deter some business owners from taking this protective measure, adding vehicle tracking systems to a fleet is a smart investment in the business. Running a fleet more efficiently can only save money on gas costs and driver’s wages. Some insurance companies may even give a premium discount if each vehicle has a tracking device installed.