In the last few years, fleet tracking has really become more accessible to businesses of all sizes. Implementing a GPS fleet tracking system used to be very costly and had high barriers of entry. Hardware was expensive, data plans were expensive and it wasn’t able to provide all the information that you wanted. When it did provide you data that you wanted, it wasn’t very timely. Sometimes data would be hours late and were really only good for analysis after-the-fact.
That’s the past. Now with current technology, GPS fleet tracking systems are investments that just make sense. Data comes across in near-real time and the features available are robust to improve operations, dispatching and driver training.
There are key fleet tracking trends in place today that make adopting a system like this into businesses make a lot more sense. The most obvious one is that it is much cheaper. The hardware is cheaper to buy and cheaper to install. The cost of transmitting data is lower as well since more cellular networks are sprouting up across the country.
The other fleet tracking trends that are in play are riding along the wave of the major technology trend of mobility. Smartphones are in every manager’s pocket along with a tablet in their briefcase. Accessing data gathered by GPS fleet tracking systems is a lot easier now. Just swipe to unlock your screen and tap an icon to open the app to see real-time data on truck locations. For drivers, they have specialized apps too to keep track of their driving time, receive load information and navigate them using commercial-only routing. No matter where a person is, whether at a business lunch or on the road, they are an information center where data can be consumed and fed back into the system.
Big Data is another major trend that is affecting the fleet tracking industry. The nature of location tracking lends itself easily to generating large amounts of data. With a ping every 5 or even 1 minute, it creates a data record that can be used to piece together a bigger picture. A manager can be easily overwhelmed with the huge silos of data he’s now accumulated. There are technologies being created now to help managers extract the data that they need for analysis. It is easy to fall into the big data trap and drown. Software companies specializing in fleet tracking can help guide managers to data that is relevant to what they want to learn about their organizations.
This article will familiarize you with some key trends in the industry today. These may already be trends that you’ve heard about in other contexts. By speaking on them from a fleet tracking standpoint, I hope that you’ll find that they are more relevant to your business and that you can take advantage of them to improve your driver operations, customer service and the bottom line.
I’m not trying to be clever about this but big data is a big topic. The general idea of big data is that there is so much data that it is overwhelming and requires a ton of analysis to be useful. Location data, which is the basis of GPS fleet tracking, can quickly turn into a goldmine of information to quantify the results of your strategic operation’s decisions. There are some hurdles to it though, too.
Big data is any amount of data that is too huge for a human being to process. That’s it. A fleet fully equipped with GPS tracking devices and a team of drivers with load management apps on their smartphones will generate a lot of data during the course of their day.
Tracking every vehicle in your fleet 24 hours a day at a 5 minute ping can grow into huge data silos. All that data gathered is useful because it is an objective and visual representation of your business operations on a map. Keeping all those geographic data points in an isolated environment isn’t useful to a dispatcher or manager. It is important to tie them with your other big data like your maintenance system, dispatch system and so on.
Big data, the quantitative summary of your business operations, will be empowering for dispatchers and managers when they have the right tools to analyze the past to prepare for future decisions. You’ll be able to drill down, filter, sort and search for exact pieces of information needed in your day to day business. Also, a GPS fleet tracking system will also have alerts and data triggers to help bring attention to incidents as they’re happening.
It can be scary to approach the wealth of business data and the software system that holds it. The important thing to keep in mind is that the tools are there to help you ask questions to your data and to tell it what to do. When you want to know “How many on-time deliveries did Sam make this quarter?” You can set the filters for time delivered, Driver assigned and a date range for the quarter. And there you have it, this is the beginning to big data in GPS fleet tracking.
Access Fleet Data Anywhere
It is very likely that you are a tablet user. In fact, it is very likely that you’re using a tablet right now to read this article. With the popularity of SaaS (Software As A Service), cloud computing and responsive web design, software companies can build products that can be viewed on a smartphone or tablet screen just as easily as on a desktop.
For users of GPS fleet tracking software, mobility is a key feature. Fleet managers who double duty as dispatchers or drivers find it almost impossible to be in front of a computer. But that’s ok because your office is now in your pocket. Nowadays we are so accustomed to having whatever information we want at our fingertips. How tall is the Eiffel tower? When is the next Lakers game? Where are my trucks and who can I send to pick up this load that my customer just called me about?
Access to your fleet’s location at the drop of a hat no matter where you are is powerful and grants you the ability to react quickly to situations. Then the problem comes that perhaps you’re working too much and now you have too much information. Fleet tracking software is now intelligent and will alert you when something important happens based on parameters that you’ve set. Now you know ahead of time that something potentially bad is going to happen, like say a late delivery, and you have more time to address it by calling the customer ahead of time to let them know of the delay.
The information you need is always available on your tablet when you need it. Even when you have it put away, you can get notified when something needs your immediate attention. Using a tablet or smartphone to access your fleet data while you’re on the go will be appreciated by your customers. They will know that the business they do with you is monitored closely and that you can react quickly to solving customer problems.
There are microprocessors everywhere these days. They are getting smaller and smaller (Moore’s law) allow for us to create what is commonly called the internet of things. In the past, the only entities that could contribute to data on the internet were computers operated by humans where data was input via a terminal. Now, just about anything can be connected to the internet by strapping on a powered microprocessor and data transmitting chip.
GPS devices that plug directly into the OBDII port of vehicles leverage the standardization of the OBDII port to pull power and data from the vehicle. This makes it very easy for small fleets or consumers to turn their vehicle into a thing that contributes data to the internet. It can automatically input speed, location and ignition data directly into a database without any human intervention and that makes the technology more widely accessible to the public.
Continue To Page 2 (Smartphone Tracking, Driver Safety and more)