Effective fleet management isn’t just about knowing where your vehicles are at any one time. Using vehicle tracking systems can increase productivity, cut down on fuel and insurance costs and streamline your organisation to maximise efficiency. Real time vehicle tracking enables you to do all of that without having to wait for someone to analyse the data days or even weeks later.
Real time tracking calculates the exact position of a vehicle at the current time and updates it constantly as time and the vehicle’s position changes. Information concerning the tracked vehicle is not delayed or recorded for post-analysis, but uses accurate GPS positioning and the mobile phone network for communication, updating in real time over the phone. GPS systems that utilise the satellite-based network rather than just relying on the mobile phone network have the advantage of extended coverage; helpful if your fleet operates in more remote locations.
Different technologies are used in real time vehicle tracking systems including vehicle tag-based AVI and video image processing. While these commercial image processing systems work well in free-flowing traffic, they tend to be less effective in congested situations or where built up areas cause shadows and lighting transitions to ‘mask’ the location of the vehicle.
Knowing exactly where your vehicles are in real time gives the fleet manager a huge advantage. It enables you to be far more streamlined in your operation, giving you the ability to make changes to planned routes in case of emergencies, breakdowns or other variables that may interfere with the usual routes taken by your vehicles. Something as simple as road works may mean that a planned collection from a customer is delayed. By utilising real time GPS tracking, a fleet manager can redirect the nearest vehicle to a destination, saving time, money and, most importantly, keeping the customer happy.
Real time tracking can also help fleet managers to ‘keep an eye in the cab’ of every vehicle on the road. The data sent back can immediately tell fleet managers of any deviation from set routes, whether drivers are using excessive speed or even help drivers out if they get lost. Real time tracking can also be used in emergency situations to notify Police or emergency services of the exact location of a vehicle if it is stolen or involved in an accident. This also gives a fleet manager the ability to re-route other vehicles to cover the deliveries or pick-ups effected by such a situation.
GPS tracking not only tells fleet managers about the vehicle, it can also be employed to keep track of the cargo as well. GPS trailer tracking are an excellent method of keeping track of the cargo being transported by the vehicle, particularly important if the goods are perishable or time-sensitive. The most up to date systems even employ 3D modelling, which involves recovering trajectories and models with high accuracy. These systems work well on small to medium sized fleets, but can become inherently complex on larger fleets. Region-based real time tracking uses a system of overlays identifying a connected region in the image associated with each vehicle and tracks it over time using a cross-correlation algorithm.
Modern real time vehicle tracking systems are becoming increasingly complex, but the information they provide is invaluable to effective fleet management. Although expensive to begin with, the long-term savings for any sized fleet can be considerable.