What is GPS Tracking?
The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a space-based navigation system that is providing precise location and time information about a vehicle, person, or other asset which a GPS tracking system is attached to. GPS is based partly on similar ground-based radio-navigation systems, but uses satellites which continually broadcast signals in all weather conditions. GPS tracking requires the use of at least four satellites orbiting the earth to calculate a relatively accurate position of a tracking device.
Among other functions, GPS tracking is common among companies that need vehicle tracking, as GPS tracking can be used to monitor the route of the vehicles, ships or aircrafts included in the fleet. It is also used for tracking the exact position of cargo.
GPS tracking helps fleet managers to monitor the performance of their fleet and employees that operate with it by collecting real time data about location and time of the monitored vehicle.The gathered information can be used for data backups, reports and long-term efficiency analysis for strategic usage of resource and productivity optimization. Furthermore, knowing where your fleet is at any time increases safety.
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How Does It Work?
GPS tracking is possible through a GPS tracking device and a data unit. The tracking device also known as a GPS tracker is an electronic device that is to be installed in your vehicle, so that it can collect a variety of information about the vehicle’s location and performance based on driving.
The operating information is sent continuously to a data unit, where all the data is processed, analyzed and stored through GPS tracking software. All these components form a GPS tracking system which allows managers to monitor their fleet remotely since the stored data is accessible through a computer, laptop, mobile phone, or a tablet.
Active And Passive Tracking
GPS tracking can be classified in two main types - active and passive, depending on the time of data transmission.
Read more: Types of GPS Trackers
Active devices, connected via a GPRS system, receive data from the GPS satellites and transform it to the data unit/server of a specialized computer monitoring systems in real time via a cellular/GSM or satellite network. The gathered data about the vehicle position, speed, course and more can be accessed through the Web on a computer, laptop, tablet or on a mobile phone as some GPS tracking providers offer that feature.
Active GPS tracking helps companies receive immediate processed information about their fleet that can be used for fleet management solutions and managment of company resources.
Unlike active GPS tracking devices, passive trackers collect and store information about location, time and speed over time. The data can be accessed and downloaded later when the vehicle returns to the predetermined point.
Some GPS tracking systems combine both active and passive GPS tracking. This allows the GPS tracker to work on different modes. When the tracker is connected and a mobile network is available, data is transmitted to a data server. When a network is not available, the tracker stores the collected data, which can be downloaded or transferred to a server later on, when the network becomes available again.
Fleet Management With GPS Tracking
GPS tracking is an essential part of every fleet management system, because information about the fleet ensures various fleet management functions such as fleet telematics (tracking and diagnostics), fuel management, vehicle maintenance, driver management among many others. Furthermore, precise data about vehicle’s location and speed is possible at any time and place due to GPS satellites usage.
This makes GPS tracking an inseparable part of transport related businesses where managers need to monitor remotely and constantly their fleet. Most vehicle tracking suppliers offer online access to the data received from a GPS tracking system, so managers can easily and quickly get an overview of the real-time position and speed of their vehicles, control the driver's’ behaviour on the road, manage workflows, optimize fuel efficiency by analyzing the driver's driving style and much more.
GPS or vehicle tracking systems are quite often referring to the same product even though vehicle tracking systems can be more comprehensive, offering more advanced functionalities than location and speed tracking. However, GPS tracking is the main component of every modern vehicle tracking systems since its main function is location tracking which is possible through GPS satellites.
By using GPS tracking of vehicles, ships or cargo, a company can achieve an enhanced communication channel that connects the fleet to the office and can allow an easy and fast two-way information traffic when a messaging option is included in the vehicle tracking system.
Benefits Of GPS Tracking
When you invest in a GPS tracking in your fleet management system, you get various benefits. These include among others the following:
An overview of the precise position and speed of every vehicle, ship, aircraft in the fleet or cargo.
Route tracking information - planned and performed routes, stops and exact time.
Navigation - providing route directions, finding the nearest vehicle to perform the task etc.
Real-time traffic information - optional for some GPS tracking systems
Monitoring and control over driving behaviour - information about speed, pauses, routes, overall driving hours per day, per vehicle and more.
Decrease in carbon emissions through reduction of idle time.
Optimization in driving style and thereby the entire fleet.
Efficient time management through precise route and time planning.
Easy and fast two-way communication between fleet and office.
Data storage used for reports, graphs and analysis.
GPS Tracking In Business
Many companies take advantage of fleet management in order to coordinate and facilitate various transport and transport-related activities. GPS tracking has become a central part of many transport related companies as they are trying to optimize their business. Installing GPS tracking systems enables managers to track their fleet, send the closest vehicle to a given task, react quickly if a car were to go astray and ensure that the fleet is not misused for extra work in contravention of the scheduled time and much more.
GPS tracking can be advantageously used in the following segments:
Some car rental companies put geographical limitations to the car driving. GPS tracking helps them control drivers not to take the car outside the set boundaries. Tracking the rented cars in real time can also be useful in case they haven’t been returned on time.
Public and private bus transport
GPS tracking can be used for a variety of purposes on bus routes, including monitoring driving behaviour, planning precisely the time schedule and informing passengers about the changes.
GPS tracking is useful in the home care sector as it is an advantage to have your fleet in a direct communication with the office. In this way, the dispatchers can always send the nearest available home carer for a task, should there be an emergency. Besides, this optimizes the time of the home care workers.
The nature of the business of taxi companies requires GPS tracking. Not only it is essential for the organization of the work since dispatchers should be able to locate and direct taxi drivers by sending the nearest available one to an address, but GPS tracking for taxi companies is a necessity for good customer service. Most taxi companies have GPS trackers with a navigation system installed in the cars. This allows drivers not to depend only on the dispatcher’s directions, but to get fast information about the most efficient route. Besides GPS tracker, taxi companies use vehicle tracking systems with two-way messengers installed to ensure the communication flow between the office and the fleet. In addition, GPS tracking is helpful for the safety of the driver and the car. Cars can easily be located in case of undesired occasions.
Companies with driving key account and sale consultants
It is an advantage for sales consultants to have GPS tracking and navigation in their vehicles so they can find the quickest and easiest way to customers especially in unknown areas. In such cases GPS tracking means reduced travel time, increased productivity and better customer service.
The physical transfer of banknotes, coins and items of value from one location to another normally requires high level of security. GPS tracking can strengthen transport safety and prevent thefts by providing real-time information about the location of the money transport.
Craft and artisan industry with a fleet of vehicles
Carpenters, mechanics, plumbers and other workers that need a vehicle to reach their customers are often driving cars with an installed GPS tracking device as it is relatively important for the employer to know where the vehicles are. GPS tracking can ensure that the cars are not misused for extra work in the evenings and weekends.
Some hotels implement GPS tracking in their cars and limousines, as it allows them to know when a VIP is approaching the hotel. In this way, they are always prepared and ready to receive important hotel guests.
Air cargo, cargo shipping, courier services
Companies can track their cargo, assets, packages and containers transported on air, on the ground or through shipping through GPS tracking systems. This allows them provide accurate information to the customers about the position of the expected package, which optimizes the work and increases customer service quality.
You can use GPS tracking for almost any fleet.
How Much Does GPS Tracking Cost?
GPS tracking is a long term investment which pays for itself relatively quickly through time and productivity optimization, increased safety, better customer service, overall efficiency.
The price for a GPS tracking system can vary a lot depending on the size of the fleet and your company’s needs. A larger fleet would probably need a higher number of GPS trackers to be installed in each vehicle or cargo. This will also require more comprehensive vehicle tracking system compared to a smaller fleet.
GPS tracking service for small businesses will often be less expensive, as there is less need for GPS tracking units and the coordination of the installed trackers is easier.
The features included in the GPS tracking system also influence the price. A simple GPS tracking service with basic functions such as location and speed is cheaper than one with more features. Therefore, it is important to determine your company's needs before deciding on budget for GPS tracking.
You can either buy or rent a GPS tracking system. Renting can be a good option for companies with smaller fleet where fleet management is not an essential part of the business. The rental costs are usually paid on a monthly basis and can vary depending on what you choose to include in the lease.
If you need to manage the fleet of a car rental, taxi, bus transport, courier or another company where locating vehicles is essential for the work efficiency, you are probably willing to invest more in a GPS tracking system, which will allow you an access to more features.