Employee productivity is down, business costs are soaring, and your fleet is under maintenance way more than it should be. No matter the size of your business, fleet tracking can be a cumbersome operation if you’re not using the right fleet management tools.
The above issues could be linked to a lack of robust fleet tracking features in your arsenal. GPS fleet tracking may sound like specific software that just monitors your assets and drivers on a virtual map, but the benefits of GPS vehicle tracking systems are far-reaching across the business model.
Those fuel cost queries can be addressed by tracking employee routes and identifying areas for route optimization, while those maintenance woes can be answered by assessing and addressing driver behavior.
However, for many fleet managers, aside from being a desirable addition to their software stack, GPS vehicle tracking systems are about to become a legal obligation. As of December 18th 2017, the Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) mandate issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) comes into effect for commercial drivers, overhauling the key requirements for electronic vehicle tracking.
From this date, the following will apply to commercial drivers who are currently required to maintain records of duty (RODS):
- Electronic tracking devices will replace paper logbooks, and will connect to a vehicle’s engine, recording hours of service (HOS) and RODS
- Devices must be able to automatically record date, time, and location information, along with engine hours, vehicle miles, and ID information of the driver using the device.
What are the key benefits of GPS vehicle tracking systems?
I spoke with fleet management experts about their experiences with GPS fleet tracking systems, and highlighted five of the key business benefits of adopting GPS technology for your fleet.
Reduction in costs
Though equipping your fleet with GPS tracking systems is a significant investment, GPS software can drastically reduce costs in other areas of the business.
- Speeding is known to increase fuel consumption, and GPS tracking systems can alert fleet managers when drivers exert excessive speeds, as well as reducing the possibility of speeding fines.
- Another common cause of high fuel consumption is idling, which is estimated to waste around 6 billion gallons of fuel per year—another costly action that GPS systems can alert fleet managers to, in order for them to put preventative measures in place.
- GPS tracking devices also provide opportunities for fleet route optimization. Locating drivers through GPS allows dispatchers to send technicians who are closest to the location, thereby saving on fuel usage. The devices can also specify routes that avoid toll charges.
- GPS tracking systems can help with reducing a driver’s Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) score, which in turn can lower insurance premiums. By monitoring driver behavior, such as reckless driving, speeding, or using a mobile phone through a GPS app, fleet managers can take measures to address the cause of high insurance costs.
- Fleet tracking app GPS Insight uses ‘billing with landmarks’ at their customer sites, meaning that they track exactly when a vehicle arrives at and leaves a ‘landmark’ (these are reference points on a map, usually customer locations, the fleet yard etc), which makes customer billing more accurate.
Enhanced safety for both your employees and your fleet
- GPS tracking systems can ensure a proactive approach to keeping your workforce and assets safe, compliant, and operational. I spoke to Paul Laidler, Director of Transportation at Columbian Logistics Network, who believes that GPS vehicle tracking systems are crucial to maintaining the safety of fleet operatives.Accidents involving your drivers are easier to manage with GPS tracking systems. Laidler says, “Emergency situations with drivers or equipment are much easier to respond to when you have a physical location of your vehicles”.
- GPS tracking technology apps, such as Vehicle Fleet Manager and Fleetio, can track several driver behaviors with the intention of correcting them. Actions such as speeding, hard braking, phone usage, and aggressive acceleration can be monitored, and fleet managers can use this data to directly target unsafe driving behavior. Fleetio allows users to score their drivers, provide driving tips, and to set-up a scoreboard of drivers based on their driving performance.
- Tracking systems can also help when there is a dispute or accident involving an employee. “GPS fleet tracking software can provide valuable evidence for liability mitigation and root cause analysis. GPS reporting provides critical date, time, and location validation to prove or disprove a case when providing proof to a client, law enforcement agency, insurance company, or any litigious party”, says Laidler.
- In case of theft, GPS tracking systems can also be used to track stolen vehicles.
GPS vehicle tracking systems can also assist fleet managers with both backend and vehicular operational improvements to help avoid potential breakdowns, repair costs, and coordination chaos.
- Apps such as Fleet Complete and Fleetmatics Reveal can schedule automatic service and maintenance alerts for your vehicles, as well as store historical data such as usage hours and mileage which helps to plan future service schedules.
- GPS systems also allow for more flexibility when it comes to dispatching, meaning that dispatchers can worry less about fixed schedules, and focus more on ‘scheduling that makes sense’. Laidler says, “In terms of dispatch and planning, GPS fleet tracking software allows us to predict where and when a truck will arrive at a location, meaning that coordinating the next load and keeping that truck moving profitably and efficiently is simple”.
- GPS Geofencing works by creating a virtual area on a map that vehicles can ‘enter’ and ‘leave’, notifying managers as and when they do. GPS tracking apps with geolocation features can prevent theft, help to reduce the use of manual driver time logs, and automate communication between drivers and managers.
Automation of payroll and taxes
GPS systems can automatically track and store crucial employee management data such as clock-ins/outs and tax information, expediting and automating the traditional paperwork processes.
- Adil Baguirov, co-founder of American Power, a trucking and logistics company, believes that one important benefit of GPS fleet tracking software is its ability to calculate complicated jurisdictional taxes. He says, “In the trucking industry, we’re required to pay the IFTA tax (an agreement whereby 48 American states collect fuel tax from vehicles that regularly cross state lines), which means that we have to know how many miles our drivers have driven in each state to properly calculate tax payments to those states. Doing this manually was incredibly time-consuming, but GPS tracking software means that this task is now almost fully automated.”
- GPS tracking systems can help verify your workforce timesheets–if not completely automate them by tracking when your employees arrive to and leave from job sites, when they break for lunch, and when they clock-off.
Improvements in your customer service
Being able to easily cut delivery times without compromising on customer service is every fleet manager’s dream. GPS vehicle tracking can help marry the two by providing live updates to dispatchers.
- Real time mapping means that you know exactly where your fleet–and therefore your products–are at all times. Being able to inform customers of exactly when their deliveries will arrive, instead of a blanket “from 9AM to 3PM” slot, is much more desirable for the customer.
- GPS tracking apps can provide reports on job completion, with data such as timestamps, locations, and even provide areas for notes on job completion details–meaning that you employees notes can be checked against any customer dissatisfaction.