Whether a fleet operator oversees 10 vehicles or 100, they have to ensure all vehicles are on time, the drivers are safe, and there is no loss, damage, or theft.
Manual fleet management using excel spreadsheets and constant phone calls are a thing of the past. Fleet tracking software has become ever-present, but even then, operators and managers have to pick the right technology and tools.
Choose a tracking software that is too basic, and you’re still stuck by the phone, constantly contacting drivers and job site personnel to make sure everything is completed on time.
On the other hand, a dynamic GPS fleet tracking system can help managers and operators track, analyze, and optimize their entire fleet operations in real-time.
In this article, we’ll discuss fleet tracking, what it is, why you need fleet tracking software, and the features this software should have.
What is fleet tracking?
Fleet tracking is a system used to monitor and manage fleet vehicles and assets, such as drivers, workers, and equipment. Global Positioning System or GPS tracking is the primary method used in this system.
Other terms used to describe this process are Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) and vehicle tracking.
Fleet operators and business owners use tracking software, like CalAmp Fleet Telematics solution, to see where each vehicle is in real-time, access general vehicle statistics, and monitor how drivers handle their vehicles.
Advanced GPS fleet tracking software can provide more comprehensive information, like service reminders, real-time mileage and usage, and notifications related to driver and vehicle safety.
Why use fleet tracking software?
Fleet operators, safety managers, project managers, maintenance staff, and logistics personnel all value a good GPS tracking fleet management tool because of these eight benefits:
#1. Lower maintenance costs and risks of breakdowns
Fleet management software can help operators, business owners, and managers reduce maintenance costs. Here’s how:
- Software like CalAmp Fleet Telematics tracks your vehicle’s diagnostics for you. This auto-monitoring means you can immediately identify minor maintenance issues as soon as they pop up.
- Administrators or operators get notifications for these issues and can get vehicles repaired before a minor problem turns into a major expense.
- Since you can also see all your vehicles on a dashboard in real-time, you can create better schedules.
- Fleet managers can also add vehicles to cover for those in repair, or they can remove vehicles deemed excessive.
- Operators can also set reminders for service based on mileage or usage reports, which are available in real-time.
- Fleet owners can see which vehicles constantly need maintenance and can replace these with fully functioning vehicles.
These features help you lower your fleet maintenance costs and extend your fleet’s life.
#2. Create more efficient routes & optimize work assignments
With the help of GPS tracking, operators can devise routes that help their fleet operate more productively. Having an overview of all operations can help turn a scattered and disorganized fleet into one that gets more work done in less time.
Some fleet tracking software helps operators set specific routes for each vehicle. Routing options can be used to maximize efficiency.
They also improve your fleet scheduling capabilities. Since managers can see a vehicle’s designated route and estimate how long it takes to complete it, they can create schedules and work assignments that align with different routing options.
When you know “Truck A” is going to a specific area as part of “Route 1,” you can schedule additional work assignments within that route so that the truck can complete more tasks.
This reduces the need for additional fleet vehicles and personnel. Essentially, more work can be completed with fewer fleet resources being used.
#3. Reduce fuel costs
Without a cohesive fleet management system, vehicles are scheduled on routes and tasks based on various non-concrete factors.
For example, fleet operators could assign deliveries multiple times daily in the same area based on when customers place orders.
These repeated deliveries mean your fleet vehicles must travel back and forth, wasting large amounts of fuel.
With a fleet tracking tool, you can collect accurate data and optimize fleet utilization and assignments to reduce fuel costs.
So, using the same example as above, fleet operators can now use the software to schedule all the deliveries in an area to be completed in one morning and one evening shift, rather than haphazardly sending vehicles throughout the day.
Changes like these seem complicated at first. But when you have detailed, accurate data at your fingertips, ideating and implementing changes can be easier.
#4. On-time dispatching
Everyone knows the frustrating feeling of waiting for a delivery all day, only for it to show up the next day or even later. It’s the same when you take time off work because an electrician is coming to fix your appliance but doesn’t show up on time.
These experiences irritate customers and lead to negative reviews for the seller/service provider and the logistics company.
Depending on the scale of the incident, it could make your client hesitate to use your fleet services ever again. This is why on-time dispatching and delivery are vital.
GPS fleet tracking software helps dispatch products and services on time, which leads to higher customer satisfaction. This is because fleet operators can optimize their schedules for high performance.
With fleet management software, you can increase efficiency and design fleet schedules days in advance. Any potential delays become apparent and can be fixed without impacting the customer.
#5. Improve security and safety
Fleet tracking allows operators and managers to ensure the safety of their vehicles, assets, and drivers. Some key capabilities are:
- Prevent vehicle theft and unauthorized use: Every vehicle is tracked in real-time, so any potentially dangerous activity is immediately recognizable. You can also create geofences that allocate and monitor where vehicles can move. Tracking can also help law enforcement recover stolen assets.
- Visual monitoring: A fully integrated video telematics solution like CalAmp Video-Based Safety can provide video feeds or driver and road footage. These videos can help keep drivers in check while also acting as supporting materials in case of a road incident.
- Alerts: Operators can set up alerts for incidents related to speeding. They can compare current driving speed against the posted speed limit in a specific location.
- Tags: CalAmp Tag solutions enable operators to place trackable smart proximity sensors on their assets to ensure expensive equipment is never lost or left behind.
These fleet tracking features help operators and owners ensure safety and security are never compromised.
#6. Remote fleet management
Most online fleet management systems work on multiple devices so that fleet operators can manage their vehicles and assets from anywhere.
This gives the freedom to work from different locations and manage multiple fleet locations, such as a job site or warehouse.
All the necessary features are available on dynamic software that works on a phone, desktop, laptop, or tablet. This is essential for mobile fleet management.
Remote fleet management also reduces administrative work hours since admins can monitor, optimize, and collect feedback about their fleet from a convenient location, like the office, rather than traveling to individual job sites.
#7. Modernize your timecards
Geofences are digital boundaries that can eliminate the need for manual punch-ins at job sites, service stations, and more.
When a company sets up a geofence, any fleet vehicle that enters the boundary is automatically logged in the system. This can act as a time card for the driver as well.
Vehicles that leave the geofence are automatically clocked out.
All this information is saved on a dashboard and can be used to simplify the payroll process. No more manually collecting and moving data. All the data is right where you need it. You just need to enter it into your payroll provider.
#8. Save time and money
The above features help fleet managers save money and time while keeping drivers safe.
Not only do they save wasted hours and reduce fuel consumption with fleet optimization, but the software actively helps you save money.
For example, vehicle diagnostics in real-time help operators understand if vehicles are running as they’re supposed to. Maintenance alerts encourage early action, which leads to saving money and time.
How fleet tracking systems work
There are three main components of a fleet tracking system:
- The on-vehicle device
- Apps or software
When using CalAmp Fleet Telematics, every vehicle is equipped with a GPS device that tracks location, logs diagnostics, and other data in real-time. Adding CalAmp Tags and Video-Based Safety solutions creates a comprehensive and regularly updated catalog of data, video, and asset location.
All this information is then sent to our cloud platform, which interprets the data and then sends it to your mobile or desktop device.
In CalAmp Fleet Telematics software, you see tracking updates in real-time and data from the video camera and tags on the assets.
Fleet tracking solutions for different industries
Here’s how CalAmp has helped fleet managers in multiple industries:
Vehicle tracking - Commonwealth of Virginia’s OEMS
Virginia’s OEMS officers travel the state’s 42,774 square miles to ensure that the training, certifications, and credentials of emergency medical personnel are up to date.
OEMS workers often share pool vehicles when they go for inspections. To better track how each officer was using a vehicle, the state worked with CalAmp to install individual state identification card readers in their shared cars.
This solution vastly improved how every inspector’s trip was tracked. It eliminated the need for previously used manual monthly, weekly, and daily travel reports, enabled automatic toll booth logs via geofences, and helped admins provide better support for inspectors facing vehicle issues in the field.
Asset management - Restoration Services Company
The owner of a restoration services company struggled with workers leaving their $200 flashlights behind at job sites. Technicians couldn’t work until they found the flashlight or replaced it. This led to delays and an increase in labor costs.
CalAmp dealer and service provider ArgoTrak helped the owner by installing CalAmp Tags on each flashlight. Every time a flashlight was out of proximity of the vehicle, alerts were sent to the owner and the onboard CalAmp telematics devices, aiding in quick recovery.
This significantly boosted the owner’s budgeting in its first week of use.
Fuel cost reduction - Florida County Public Works
Florida County installed CalAmp’s GPS trackers on 556 utility vehicles to better respond to community complaints and improve fleet scheduling.
This improved work order management and prompted better driver behavior since automatic data was sent to the head office. As a result, they no longer had to rely on unsubstantiated information and could serve their community using reliable data.
Real-time data led to better work decisions, and Florida County saved approximately $150,000 in annual fuel costs in 2020.
What to look for in fleet management software?
Your GPS fleet tracking system should have the following features:
#1. Real-time monitoring
The most basic feature of any fleet management software is the ability to track vehicles and assets in real-time. Knowing the location of every car, truck, trailer, or vehicle in a fleet enables operators to manage operations effectively.
CalAmp Fleet Telematics, for example, provides real-time updates on vehicle location, asset location, status, engine diagnostics, utilization, and more. All this data is updated instantly and easily viewable on a single screen.
Collecting this data enables fleet optimization via better scheduling, routing, and vehicle management. Fleet operators can quickly identify what is causing delays or other issues and address them right from their phones, desktops, or tablets.
#2. Intuitive dashboards
Of course, you don’t want your fleet tracking system to be a constant stream of numbers and data that you have to decipher manually. This defeats the whole purpose and is only slightly less time-consuming than keeping in touch with drivers over the phone.
Your GPS fleet tracking software should provide actionable data that is easy to understand at a glance. Complex numbers or location data is broken down into visual, dynamic content.
For example, in the CalAmp Fleet Telematics software, you can see where a vehicle is in real-time rather than just getting a general location.
Your dashboard isn’t just about location tracking. It should also give a quick overview of everything related to your fleet, including incidents and metrics.
#3. Custom alerts
When there are multiple vehicles in a fleet, operators have to be able to act quickly to provide support or correct drivers. Your fleet tracking system plays a large role in this.
Regular alerts are key to fleet management. For example, CalAmp Fleet Telematics sends you regular maintenance notifications, so you can get any small issue fixed before it becomes a major one.
On top of this, you can create custom alerts for multiple scenarios, including driver behavior, engine fault codes, fuel usage, and engine idle time. These factors directly cause delays in deliveries or services, increase expenses, and could lead to legal issues.
For example, operators can use CalAmp’s vehicle risk management service, CrashBoxx, to set up custom alerts for collisions. If one occurs, operators, insurers, and the driver’s designated recipient immediately get a notification. You also get crucial crash-related data in near real-time along with OEM-level crash reporting.
CrashBoxx can also help reconstruct the accident via detailed data about what happened before, during, and after the crash. This assists investigators and may exonerate the driver. Software like this can automate incident reports and significantly speed up the claims process.
#4. Driver behavior scorecard
GPS tracking is a good start for fleet management, but data isn’t always enough. Sometimes you need eyes on the situation. This is why good fleet tracking tools use video telematics.
Video telematics solutions like CalAmp Video-Based Safety use AI-powered road and driver-facing cameras, so fleet managers can constantly check in on their drivers, vehicles, and assets.
Video cameras help drivers and fleet managers. For example, managers can use them to check driver behavior and correct them when they engage in harmful behaviors like speeding, tailgating, harsh cornering, or braking.
This gentle coaching in real-time can be more effective than an email or phone call after the fact. It also boosts driver confidence and builds trust.
Drivers are protected from legal or workplace issues since they have videos to prove their behavior.
#5. Multi-device support
Your fleet management system should work on all major platforms, including phones, desktops, laptops, and tablets.
The downside of poor cross-platform compatibility is that notifications, incidents, and alerts are missed.
For example, if your software only works on a desktop, any notifications after work hours will be missed and only checked on the next workday. This could lead to urgent alerts being ignored and issues across the board, from drivers to deliveries.
When your management platform works on all your devices, you and your staff can remotely manage your fleet and reduce time spent on repetitive admin tasks, like individual travel logs and reports written on pen and paper.
Geofencing lets fleet managers create a radius around a job site, delivery routes, warehouse, or other location. This geofence automatically logs when vehicles drive into or exit the area, so drivers don’t have to manually punch in or out anymore.
This CalAmp Fleet Telematics feature also lets fleet operators monitor their vehicles’ arrival and departure times, which could unearth potential delays or errors.
For example, if there are consistent customer reports of late deliveries for one vehicle or in one area, you can collate location information and geofence information to see where the delay is actually caused.
#7. Add on features
Once you’ve installed your fleet tracking software, you realize a lot more can be done via integrations and add-ons.
You can also have large-scale integrations with Supply Chain Visibility and our other solutions to visualize your fleet operations and your entire workflow.
App-Based Fleet Tracking vs. “Black Box”
A GPS or telematics device, is commonly referred to as a “black box” that is installed in your fleet vehicles. This device transmits data about the truck, trailer and driver to the cloud which then displays real-time information about your fleet in an easy to use fleet management application, like CalAmp Fleet Telematics.
Other companies use smartphone-based tracking, where no GPS device is installed in the vehicle. Instead, fleet operators just track the driver’s phone to ascertain their location.
In app-based fleet tracking, the fleet operators rely on drivers to install the tracking app and manually provide all the information that the app cannot.
For example, if the app is a basic location tracker, drivers will have to track factors like mileage, fuel usage, and engine diagnostics on their own.
What if their data is inaccurate? Or worse, what if they uninstall the app when they want so they cannot be tracked?
To avoid scenarios like this, fleet operators can choose a complete fleet management solution like CalAmp Fleet Telematics that includes the telematics device, cloud platform, and application. This type of fleet tracking tool has features that help with maintenance and driver safety improvements. Moreover, it cannot be tampered with.
Fleet tracking is crucial for customer and client satisfaction. You want deliveries or services to be provided on time and efficiently, and logistics is the backbone of this.
With an efficient GPS fleet tracking system like CalAmp Fleet Telematics, fleet operators can monitor their vehicles and drivers while simultaneously collecting actionable data and valuable insights to make more informed decisions that can improve fleet efficiency and safety.
Request a demo today to see how our fleet tracking software can help you, or contact our team to know more.