Technological advancements in logistics and transportation have undergone a mammoth change in the last decade or so. The multi-billion-dollar industry continues to see continuous refining and improvement in the efficiency of the processes of keeping records, meeting customer demand, and maintaining the excellent quality of the fleet.
One of the most critical devices that all logistics industries use is GPS vehicle tracker. Although you would be familiar with car tracking devices, like Google Maps, the trackers used in trucks and commercial carriers are much more sophisticated and perform several other functions when integrated with software tools. Here are the top features of the GPS tracking system used in logistics businesses, although some of these apply to the devices in private vehicles as well.
How Does the GPS Device Work?
Telematics devices, in general, refer to any devices attached to the vehicle that collect data and transmit it in real-time. The global positioning system tracker is one such device, whereas accelerometers, gyroscopic sensors, temperature regulators, and electronic logs are other examples. Most of the other devices rely on GPS data to give additional useful information.
The tracker on the vehicle collects data and records it using a device called a black box, which plugs into the OBD-II (on-board diagnostics) or the CAN-BUS port. A SIM card and modem in the device allows transmission of this data over a cellular or satellite network into a centralized server. The interested parties (fleet managers, supervisors, or clients) can view the data through a computer or mobile and analyze it from the server.
Nowadays, most manufacturers of commercial fleet install these devices as part of the assembly process. However, you can ask third-party agencies to fit these devices later as well.
What Does the Tracking Data Convey?
In a standard GPS, you would get details like the shortest route to go to a particular destination, your average speed, and the expected time of arrival, to name a few. Here are some of the additional features you can get from the GPS in the commercial fleet.
Geo-fencing refers to the technology that uses GPS devices to alert the concerned parties when a specific entity enters or leaves a particular geographical location. For example, if a shipment is made from Florida to New York State, the client may wish to be informed as soon as the package crosses the New York border. So, some trackers are capable of transmitting information in real-time, some send alerts at regular intervals like 10 minutes or half an hour, while others use the geo-fencing method.
Similarly, the managers of the logistics company could use geo-fencing for internal record-keeping. For example, if a particular asset is kept at or collected from a warehouse during the journey, or a driver operates a vehicle during off-hours, the managers automatically get the information about the movement of the package. That way, no asset is ever lost, stolen, or misplaced.
2. Safe Driving
While the GPS tracker relays information about the vehicle location, it can also be used to ensure the driver follows road safety norms, and it also helps avoid scenarios of distracted driving. The telematics system installed in the carrier collects information about the speed, idling time, and engine usage.
If the GPS can communicate the speed limits at different areas to the driver, it helps them avoid speeding. So, fleet managers get to know if the driver is overspeeding, accelerating harshly, or wasting too much fuel by idling the engine.
Fully automated or driverless carriers are likely to be in use in the next few years, as few startups have started experimenting with such trucks already. For such vehicles, the GPS is the primary source of information that guides the AI to maneuver the truck and ensure it follows the safety norms and doesn’t go off-track.
3. Route Optimization
Optimizing the routes is one of the most significant cost-cutting factors for logistics businesses. You can save thousands of gallons of fuel and hundreds of hours by choosing the right paths to carry out the deliveries.
Route optimization software tools work by collecting input from you, such as the pickup and drop-off points, the expected due date, and the available drivers. Here are some ways in which you can save fuel by keeping track of the fleet vehicles:
- If a product has to be picked up from a warehouse, you can broadcast the location information to the drivers already on the road, so that the one closest to the prescribed place can pick it up.
- If multiple delivery drop-offs are along the same route, you can assign one truck to combine all of those tasks instead of using the vehicles in the shed (assuming the due dates are flexible enough to accommodate this plan).
- Handling accident situations (described below).
Apart from this, there may be some real-time optimization as well. For example, if there is a roadblock or accident in the scheduled route, the GPS should be able to quickly recalculate and suggest a new road to carry out the task.
4. Emergency Protocol
Despite all your safety precautions, an accident or breakdown might occur when a carrier carries out a delivery job. In such a scenario, apart from analyzing the cause of the failure or accident, the fleet supervisor should also be quick to decide a couple of other factors:
- How close is the nearest mechanic, and how fast can they get to the location of the incident?
- What happens to the package? Should you wait for a mechanic to fix the truck or send another driver to continue?
With some additional features to the GPS on the commercial carriers, the system can automatically send alerts to any other driver of the same company in the vicinity, as well as find out where the nearest mechanic is. With this information, you, as a fleet manager, can decide how to proceed next.
Never Miss a Single Detail
Thanks to the continuous data feed from the telematics devices, particularly the GPS tracker, you will never miss any update from your fleet. If you haven’t upgraded your carriers with telematics systems yet, consult with an IoT agency or device manufacturer right away.