Commercial fleets can contain dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of vehicles. These fleets often include different types of vehicles, like service vans and heavy-duty trucks. Global retailer Amazon, to show an extreme example, has 400,000 drivers behind the wheels of 40,000 semi-trailers and 30,000 delivery vans—they even have a fleet of 70 airplanes.
To manage all of the vehicles under their supervision, commercial fleet operators rely on GPS tracking and telematics.
GPS tracking for commercial vehicles, when used with powerful fleet management solutions, provides a high-level overview of where every vehicle is and also detailed information about the status of each truck, driver, and asset.
In this article, we’ll explain commercial GPS tracking and how it benefits fleets today. We’ve also listed the six essential features of an effective fleet tracking solution.
What is commercial GPS tracking?
Commercial GPS tracking allows fleet owners and operators to monitor the location of all fleet vehicles in real-time. It can also track drivers and assets like trailers and cargo.
Typically, a Global Positioning System (GPS) device is installed on the vehicle or asset to track its location. Modern fleets have GPS devices that collect telematics data, like speed, fuel consumption, vehicle diagnostics, and driver behavior.
This data is transmitted to a server and is displayed in real-time via a centralized dashboard on fleet management software.
This platform allows operators to monitor, organize, and manage their fleets. They also get additional features to improve maintenance, safety, utilization, and compliance.
Commercial GPS tracking solutions are commonly used in transportation, logistics, construction, and field services.
They provide fleet owners with valuable insights into their operations, allowing them to optimize routes, improve driver behavior, reduce fuel costs, and increase productivity.
The importance of commercial GPS tracking
Every commercial fleet must have an intuitive GPS tracking solution.
Here are five key reasons why fleet operators must use a GPS telematics device:
1. Boosts visibility
With GPS vehicle tracking systems, operators gain end-to-end real-time visibility of all vehicles and assets in their fleet. They can better understand what is happening in the field vs. what was actually planned, and take instant action if incidents or deviations occur.
For example, if a driver takes longer than expected to complete a planned route, operators can communicate with them to identify the cause of the delay.
If a repetitive pattern causes the delay, then they can plan better routes for future deliveries. If the delay is due to rash driving, they can coach drivers in real-time or send them for retraining. If it’s because of an accident, they can take relevant action immediately.
A comprehensive fleet telematics solution like CalAmp’s provides additional visibility by also showing real-time data about fuel usage, engine diagnostics, idle times, engine fault codes, and more.
All of this information helps gain data-backed insights and make informed decisions on the go.
2. Enhances fleet safety
Safe driving and loss of cargo are the two biggest concerns for fleet operators. They can implement a fleet safety program to train drivers, but a fleet tracking device is essential to ensure drivers are following safe driving practices.
Accidents or collisions can cost fleet owners millions in repairs, damages, and lawsuits. So, safe driving is a top priority.
A commercial fleet tracking solution like CalAmp’s sends instant alerts to drivers and operators for poor driving behavior, including speeding, tailgating, and harsh braking. The telematics device also enables in-cab audible alerts to encourage real-time driver coaching in the field.
CalAmp also has fleet dash cams that can be used to monitor and coach drivers. It can record critical incidents to provide context and prevent fraudulent claims.
Telematics and sensor data like idle times and door/open close times are also vital in preventing cargo theft. Operators can use asset tracking to monitor trailer location and get alerts for unusual idle times and when trailer doors are opened or closed.
3. Improves fleet efficiency
Historical and real-time data collected by GPS fleet solutions can help operators perform an in-depth analysis of fleet operations and implement changes to boost efficiency and productivity.
Data related to trip reports, exception events, KPIs, and vehicle maintenance can help operators plan better routes for faster deliveries.
Utilization reports and a real-time overview of all commercial vehicles and assets can help them see which ones are performing well and which need improvements or maintenance.
They can use this data to maximize fleet utilization and reduce downtime via preventive vehicle maintenance.
4. Reduces costs
A commercial GPS telematics system can help you save time and money in various ways. For example, it can help operators track and optimize fuel consumption to reduce fuel costs.
Fuel usage reports, for example, can help operators optimize fuel usage and improve fuel efficiency at fleet and individual resource levels.
Another significant practice to reduce expenses is preventive vehicle maintenance. Operators can set periodic reminders–based on pre-set time intervals or actual miles driven–to send vehicles for maintenance using a fleet telematics solution.
Real-time vehicle diagnostics also help fleet managers identify minor issues in fleet vehicles and send them for immediate repairs rather than waiting until a complete breakdown or a major repair. Major breakdowns and large-scale repairs cost thousands of dollars and lead to weeks of downtime that significantly impact driver safety and fleet productivity.
Other ways fleet telematics can save time and resources include better route planning, eliminating redundancies, improved scheduling, and intuitive asset management.
5. Increases customer satisfaction
Commercial fleet owners and operators can increase customer satisfaction and build trust by delivering goods on time and promptly communicating logistics updates.
GPS tracking helps complete deliveries on time by enabling better route and fleet vehicle management. It can also do this by maximizing trailer utilization.
Operators can predict any delivery delays and take action to either mitigate this delay or communicate with end-customers and update them accordingly. Customers will appreciate the transparency over being left in the dark over the status of their delivery.
Repeated delayed deliveries may indicate route, vehicle, or driver issues. Operators can use fleet telematics to identify where the root cause for these issues is and how it can be improved.
6 key features of a commercial GPS tracking solution
When choosing your commercial GPS fleet tracking platform, there are multiple key factors to look out for.
Here are the six must-have features of a good commercial fleet system:
1. Real-time location
Like any GPS device, the main purpose of commercial tracking is to see where every fleet vehicle and asset is in real-time. This is a mandatory feature that lets fleet operators monitor and manage their fleet.
An instant overview of vehicle locations provides visibility and transparency to fleet operations. Additional visibility via real-time vehicle diagnostics and asset tracking helps managers get a clear picture of how their fleet is operating.
Using real-time and historical location data helps managers set accurate goals for their fleet. It also enables improvements in route management and scheduling to boost productivity.
Location tracking can also prevent cargo and asset theft.
2. Remote fleet tracking
Remote fleet tracking and management are vital for current commercial fleets. It removes restrictions related to devices, platforms, locations, and working hours when it comes to fleet management.
With an intuitive tool like the CalAmp Application, operators and managers can supervise fleet operations on any device at any time, be it a desktop, tablet, or mobile app.
This is vital for making decisions on-the-go and providing support when needed. For example, an operator can take care of urgent situations when they occur rather than waiting to reach a specific office or job site.
Dynamic fleet management software also supports modern workforces that have hybrid or fully-remote workers.
3. Driver monitoring
A commercial fleet telematics solution must enable driver monitoring by collecting real-time data on engine diagnostics, speed, driving hours, and more.
As mentioned above, bad driving impacts fleets significantly through monetary, legal, and mechanical consequences. So, your fleet tracking application must have features to assess driver behavior and ensure safe driving at all times.
For example, CalAmp bolsters fleet and driver safety by immediately alerting drivers and operators when the telematics device detects harsh driving incidents, like speeding or sudden braking. It also offers fleet dash cams to assist with driver monitoring.
The platform also has a Driver Scorecard to track historical data about driver behavior. So, operators can retrain and coach consistently poor drivers while assigning the best drivers to transport high-value cargo.
You can also ensure compliance by using the CalAmp ELD solution to track crucial metrics like Hours of Service (HOS) and simplify compliance-related tasks like Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) and IFTA Fuel Tax Reporting.
4. Custom reporting
Businesses must use fleet software that enables customized reports based on the data collected by the GPS tracking solution. This can help operators and managers monitor key performance indicators (KPIs), track progress, and make data-driven decisions.
Using CalAmp’s custom reporting and analytics, operators can access dozens of reports that cover utilization, geofence activity, exception events, KPIs, diagnostics, fuel usage, driver behavior, and more.
They can filter and search through all their data to generate reports in minutes and form data-backed conclusions to improve fleet operations.
Operators can also export data sets and reports on CalAmp and share them easily with their team, partners, or stakeholders in a few clicks. This boosts collaboration and helps implement improvements faster.
Your GPS tracking solution must integrate with all the existing systems in your commercial supply chain. This includes tracking devices, telematics, cloud platforms, third-party applications, and other devices like ELDs.
Seamless integration with leading industry and partner software is essential for collaboration and effective communication.
It prevents fleet managers from juggling multiple apps to collect and analyze data. A manager that has to look through different apps to get the most basic data can't gather relevant insights in a timely manner.
On the other hand, a fleet manager or operator with an integrated, cohesive solution has access to centralized data and can ensure they get the correct insights quickly and take actionable steps to improve fleet efficiency.
6. Unified fleet management
A stand-alone GPS vehicle tracking system is ineffective for commercial fleets with many vehicles and assets. Instead, they need a unified fleet management platform that gives an overview of GPS and telematics data while allowing operators to take action and manage their fleets.
CalAmp, for example, offers a complete telematics solution that lets commercial fleet operators manage vehicles, assets, routes, compliance, vehicle maintenance, reporting, and more on one platform.
This simplifies fleet management and enables operators to focus on productivity and on-time deliveries rather than scouring for information and performing tasks on different platforms.
GPS tracking and fleet telematics are essential for commercial fleets to operate efficiently. Tracking vehicle location in real-time improves fleet visibility, while telematics data gives operators granular visibility into daily operations and helps them identify potential improvements.
The CalAmp Application is the perfect solution for commercial fleets, with its intuitive UI showing operators an overview of fleet vehicles and assets, diagnostics, along with maintenance and compliance data.
Discover how CalAmp’s unified fleet telematics can boost your commercial fleet by requesting a demo today.