20 Sep, 2016

What is GPS Fleet Tracking?

What is GPS fleet tracking all about? We'll tell you.
20 Sep, 2016

What is GPS fleet tracking all about? We'll tell you.

Today, GPS technology has gone mainstream, and anyone with a tracking device can pinpoint the exact location of their vehicles with a simple click of a button. With the incorporation of GPS trans-receivers in mobile phones, this technology has gained a lot of popularity among the general population.

At present, the commercial applications of GPS tracking run the gamut from patient tracking to fleet tracking and beyond. So, what exactly is GPS fleet tracking? It’s the technology that enables fleet managers to locate, track and monitor their fleet of vehicles on a real-time basis. To understand vehicle tracking and asset management using GPS, it’s important to become familiar with the technology itself.

What Exactly is GPS?

GPS stands for Global Positioning System. The technology was introduced by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) exclusively for military operations. Back in the 1970’s, GPS technology was used heavily by the armed forces to navigate using radio frequency waves. However, a few years later, the DOD decided to open up the technology for civilian usage. And today, we have millions of GPS users all over the world.

How Does GPS Work?

GPS works with the help of 27 satellites (24 operational satellites plus three extra spare satellites) that move around the Earth every 12 hours. These satellites act as the backbone of the GPS system. To locate an asset using GPS, you will need a GPS trans-receiver that will communicate with those satellites. Once you have all the devices in place, this is how the location is determined:

  1. The Earth-orbiting satellites send radio waves from space.
  2. These waves are received by the GPS trans-receivers on Earth.
  3. Using trilateration, the exact location of the asset is determined.

If the asset is moving, a GPS system can also estimate the velocity. This has led to the technology’s widespread usage by vehicle fleets.

Commercial GPS Fleet Tracking

GPS technology has been a boon for companies that rely on moving assets to run their business. These companies are utilizing GPS Fleet tracking to monitor the movement of their vehicles, equipment, and crewmembers.

For example, consider a local cab business. The cab managers face a visibility problem every time the drivers go out on the job, as there is no way to monitor the movement of the cabs. This leads to a lot of confusion among both the fleet managers and drivers. Externally, the customers who want updates on the arrival status of their cabs are left in the dark.  This problem, however, can be addressed and easily solved with the help of a real-time vehicle tracking solution.  You can eliminate downtimes and streamline your fleet operations with the help of GPS software.

How Does Commercial GPS Fleet Tracking Work?

So far, we have looked at how GPS can be applied to implement an asset management or fleet tracking solution. But, how does it work? There are three major parts of a GPS Fleet Tracking Solution.

  1. The GPS device – As mentioned earlier, the GPS device is primarily a receiver that can communicate with the constellation of GPS satellites. Now, this device is mounted on the vehicle or asset to be tracked as it records the location continuously. There are two types of GPS tracking devices:
  2. Active GPS devices record the location data and transmit it on a real-time basis.
  3. Passive devices, on the other hand, store the location data on a memory chip that can later be accessed later.

For fleet tracking purposes, you are better off with Active GPS devices.

The Channel – The channel refers to the communication link between the GPS devices and your monitoring software. Theoretically, this channel could either be a cellular link or a satellite link. However, GPS data and fleet Telematics have very low data requirements and using a satellite link would be overkill. You can use a cellular connection to access real-time data from your GPS tracking devices.

The SoftwareYou’ve got your GPS devices sending the tracking data through a channel. So, what will you do next? You need GPS software to interpret the data and convert it into a user-friendly form. The software will help you analyze the data concerning location details, vehicle status, engine temperature, etc.

The software is critical when it comes to choosing a fleet tracking solution, as your fleet managers will rely solely on the GPS software to manage fleet operations. So, when selecting a GPS fleet tracking solution, make sure the software comes loaded with the latest features and analytic tools. Besides, you should consider investing in a cloud-based software that will enable the fleet managers to monitor the vehicles from anywhere.  

The Benefits of Using GPS Fleet Tracking

GPS fleet tracking, coupled with onboard vehicle Telematics, offers a ton of advantages for your fleet. These tracking solutions monitor your fleet round the clock and 

send regular updates to make sure your business keeps performing at its highest level. These advantages include:

Reduced fuel consumption.

Regular updates on driver status.

Reduced instances of speeding and dangerous driving behavior.

Reduction of idling and stopover time.

Reduced vehicle insurance costs.

Vehicle loss and theft prevention

Improved customer service.

GPS fleet tracking is indispensable for modern-day fleets. It can improve the productivity of your fleet dramatically and reduce operational expenses. If your fleet is still running on phone calls and whiteboards, you should consider investing in a GPS fleet tracking solution.

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