Do It Yourself (DIY) GPS Vehicle Tracking

Do It Yourself GPS Vehicle Tracking

Generic GPS Trackers

Do It Yourself GPS Vehicle Tracking

Custom GPS Vehicle Tracking System

Some people may ask this question thinking how hard can it be to create a do it yourself GPS vehicle tracking system. There is a website, GPS trackers on Amazon, and SIM cards are available at your local gas station. What could go wrong?

At Fleetistics our mission is to help customers get the right solution for the lowest investment. If this means providing a customer an IoT data-only solution, we have that. In fact, Fleetistics already has customers using an IoT-only service.

One of the most technically challenging aspects of creating a GPS tracking system is collecting the data from a network provider such as AT&T, routing it to the right destination, and getting it into a database. Since Fleetistics has accomplished this for multiple GPS trackers and protocols, customers can pay a significantly lower fee to connect to our APIs for the data routing. Fleetistics will supply the GPS tracking device, data service, and API service. Once the GPS data is in a database on your network, the rest is up to you. Fleetistics will maintain the data processor and API in the event changes are made to the process.

If you want to compare the various platforms and GPS tracking services click here.

 

Is A DIY GPS Tracking System A Good Idea

There is a lot of risk in trying to do this yourself. You risk time, money, and sales opportunities during the development process. If you get to the end and it does not meet expectations, you experience a significant loss.

If your organization is mapping intensive already, displaying GPS data on the map is not a far reach. Industries such as shipping, cargo, and trucking which have national or global operations may be interested in Fleetistics IoT service as a method to reduce the cost of a do it yourself GPS tracking system which can combine and normalize tracking data from multiple GPS trackers.

Vehicle & Asset Telematics
Electronic Forms
Mobile Viewing
Routing
Vehicle & Asset Telematics
Electronic Forms
Mobile Viewing
Routing

Geotab T-Mobile Support 3G to 4G Upgrade Program

T-Mobile 3G Sunset 12/31/2020

 

T-Mobile has announced they will enforce the published date to deactivate 3G Geotab fleet tracker T-Mobile GPS tracking devices. This means Fleetistics customers with GPS devices using the T-Mobile 3G network need to plan now. Those devices will stop reporting at the end of the year. Fleetistics has several programs in place to aid customers in transitioning from TMO 3G to the newer 4G technology.

AT&T and Verizon customers are not affected by T-Mobile’s plan. They have committed to maintain their 3G networks until 12/2022.

Customers must be in good financial standing to participate in the upgrade program.

 

T-Mobile Telematics

Call

877.467.0326

TMO 3G Upgrade Program (Geotab customers only)

 

  1. Existing ProPlus and Fleetistics rental customers automatically get replacement devices in Q4 of 2020 or at Geotab’s discretion with a service agreement that extends past 2020. Now is the time to call Fleetistics customer service and schedule 3G upgrade for Q4 to be sure GPS devices are available. ProPlus includes Roadside Service – Learn More. Compare Geotab service plans – Click here.

2. Customers not wanting to upgrade to ProPlus may purchase a replacement device at a deeply discounted and subsidized price. Contact Fleetistics for details

3. Customers not wanting to purchase a 4G device may receive a free T-Mobile 4G device with a minimum service agreement of 24 months. If you love the Geotab platform and never plan to leave the most robust fleet management solution available, why not take advantage of this free 4G upgrade offer.

Changing Cellular Network Carriers On Upgrade

In some situations network coverage changes and a customer may feel a different carrier is now a better option. Since this program is T-Mobile specific the free upgrade program does not offer carrier switching. However, for a nominal fee, customers may choose to replace T-Mobile device with an AT&T or Verizon telematics device. Contact your Fleetistics account manager or customer service for pricing and details.

GO GPS Tracker from Geotab

Installation Requirements

To avoid undue delays and administrative fees you will have 5 days to install the replacement devices from the date of delivery before the old 3G devices are deactivated. If you have more GPS trackers than you can replace in 5 days Fleetistics will work with you to provide multiple deliveries for the cost of shipping.

The goal is to make this exchange process for customers across the United States quick and efficient.

Replacing Devices In MyGeotab

It is important that you replace the old GPS devices with the new devices in your MyGeotab account. The linked document, Geotab Replacing A Device, walks you through this process. Be sure to contact us with the serial numbers of the devices you have replaced so they can be deactivated. Failing to do this step will result in double billing. It is recommended that you open a support ticket in MyFleetistics asking customer service to verify everything is correct once you feel the replacement is complete.

After swapping the GPS devices, replacing them in MyGeotab, and confirming with Fleetistics customer service, the 3G T-mobile devices can be disguarded since they will be deactivated and cannot be reactivated.

GPS Tracking

Fleet Management

Phone Tracking

Tablets & Data

Support Cases Made Easy

Support Cases Just Got Easier!

The thought of opening a support case can be frustrating. We have all had a bad experience dealing with a support issue online at some point. Fleetistics is determined to simplify and streamline the support process.

Benefits Of Opening A Support Case

  • Avoid Hold. Don’t waste valuable time calling. We are glad to talk to you but we service many customers. Entering a case simply avoids hold time and phone tag.
  • Easy Access. The support system resides within MyFleetistics. It is connected to your database so you don’t have to look up serial numbers and device details. When a case is opened from the Device Status Table, vehicle information is automatically entered in the support ticket. Current and historical cases can be reviewed.
  • Fire and forget. The case allows you to walk away why we do our research. You can go about your day. No phone tag. No being on hold.
  • Accountability. Cases are time and date stamped. Both parties are held accountable for a timely response.
  • Communication. Information is shared and documented in one place for a single issue.
  • Notification. When a case is updated by Fleetistics or you, notification is provided to the other party.
  • Self Help. We are working to provide quick, easy to follow instructions for the most common issues so you can potentially address an issue immediately and move on with your day. View troubleshooting steps click here.
Opening a Support Case

Accessing the Device Support System

 

After logging into MyFleetistics, click Analytics, then Dashboard Device Status. A list of your devices populates, color coded to identify devices that may have issues. First, find the device that you want to open a case for, and click the flag to the right of the device information.

 

Opening a Support Case

Next, Complete the Brief Support Case Form

Not a vehicle or device issue?

If your support case is not about a device issue, simply click the cross icon in the top right corner of the window or navigate to Help Center > Support and select “Open Support Case” to open the form without specific device information.

Alternate path to open case

Select the category of the issue from the pre-populated list.

Open a support case

Now, Add Your Case Comments

In the comments section tell us what you have done to identify or resolve the issue. Clearly, we must go through a series of troubleshooting steps. Knowing what you have already done moves us past those steps.

A screen shot or image of an unusual occurrence is always helpful. Don’t forget to attach the file.

Finally, be sure to verify your email address and add the best phone number best time to call if we need to speak with you.

Open a support case

You have successfully opened a support case.

Support Case is now open

Case Confirmation Email

Once a case has been opened you will receive an email confirmation as in the image below. The email contains a link to your case. Each time a case is updated, you will receive another email notification so you know it is time to view and respond.

Inside the case you can add additional details, upload images, and respond to questions the Support Reps ask through the linked form. Replying to the email will not record your response in the case, so always use the link in the email to add your response directly to the case. All of the history is then recorded in the case. You can also check on the status of a case at any time by navigating to Help Center > Cases .

Case Acknowledgement Email

Example of the Support Case in MyFleetistics

Typical Support Case Documentation

In the example below, Support requests the client’s agreement to the RMA terms prior to returning the device for testing. The pdf RMA terms document link is in the email and in the case itself. It contains the details on where to send the device, what happens next, and has some helpful links to other documents as well. After reading the document it is time to acknowledge it in the Support Case system. Working from the email, it looks like this.

Support Case agreement

The Response to the Case is now logged and time/date stamped.

As more action is taken, everything is documented while the problem is being solved. Here is the case after a few more entries. There is no question about who is doing what, or if we are making progress.

Support case progress

DOT Compliance For Small Business

Small Business Explanation

This blog is designed as general information for the small business operator who is unsure if their line or volume of work requires being DOT registered and compliant. The video will help distinguish between a weekend warrior and commercial entity. It will guide you through some of the most common requirements so when you are eventually pulled over you are prepared. It also gives you an idea of how to respond if you are not a commercial entity so you can get on your way quicker. Be sure to check your local regulations and read the FMCSA website for details.

 

Does My Business Need to Be DOT Compliant

Knowing if you need to be DOT compliant as a small business may be confusing. There are a few questions to answer to make this determination. Once realized, you can work to get compliant in an organized manner.

The first criteria is whether your power unit (truck) is being used to generate revenue. Are you acting on behalf of a business to make money? Second is gross vehicle weight. Does your power unit and trailer have a combined GVWR over 10,001 lbs? The gross vehicle weight rating is marked on the decal inside the door jam. Most heavy duty pickup trucks have a GVWR over the 10,001 lbs limit. When you add a trailer to the power unit, it is easy to exceed 10,001 lbs.

Last, where is the vehicle operating? If the vehicle is operating state-to-state, the vehicle is considered to be a commercial vehicle. There are mileage exceptions to this. Most widely used is the 100 air mile short haul exemption. A commercial vehicle that stays withing a 100 mile radius of the work reporting location, and returns to that location within the work day may be exempt. There are also agricultural exemptions for a 150 mile radius.

Always refer to the FMCSA guidelines and FAQ to be sure your vehicle qualifies for an exemption. If DOT compliance is in doubt, contact your local FMCSA filed office for guidance.

 

FMCSA Compliance Made Easy

Once you are designated as a commercial operator, you are required to implement electronic driver logs for hours of service compliance. This can be a daunting realization. Failing to be compliant can lead to all sorts of terrible consequences such as DOT fines, higher insurance rates or even being dropped. On top of that, reduced delivery times with limited driving hours and a host of computer related activities will suck up your time and financial resources.

In contrast, compliance with a full featured ELD system eliminates wasting time correcting paper driver logs, a second set of books, and potential DOT fines. Ultimately it rewards you with happier drivers and less turnover. In the end, your investment in ELD generally pays for itself in many ways. Fortunately, Fleetistics offers ELD, DVIR, IFTA and other services in a single platform to facilitate FMCSA compliance and save you time and money.

 

Basic DOT Compliance Checklist

  • Read and follow your State & FMCSA guidelines
  • Train your drivers and test their knowledge as your first line of defense to a DOT audit
  • Issue and train drivers how to use paper logs if your electronic logging device goes down
  • Carry a correct and properly mounted fire extinguisher
  • Carry a box of three roadside triangles
  • Display your company name, IFTA decals and DOT number on both sides of your vehicl
  • Always keep spare fuses on hand for the vehicle type
  • Have available in cab the proper registration, insurance, ELD documents and CDL
  • Track time on duty and mileage by state for IFTA
  • Maintain annual inspection and documentation

Check out our other blogs on:

GPS Tracking

Fleet Management

Phone Tracking

Tablets & Data

Securing Trailer Cargo

Securing Trailer Cargo For Safety

Unsecured or poorly secured trailer cargo is fairly common on the road. We all see painting vans with a half dozen ladders on the roof, a mattress on top of the car or a carpet hanging out the back doors. Often the body rubs the wheels due to being overloaded. By all means if you want to be pulled over, attract attention to yourself by being this guy. Anyone can be pulled over for being unsafe but the more obvious you are about doing a great job securing your cargo, the less likely you are to get pulled over.

 

Calculating Working Load Requirements

One of the most interesting aspects of securing cargo is calculating the number of straps and the working limit of each. This is covered in the video below but the general rule of thumb is that the straps have to be rated for 50% of the load weight. For example, you have an 8,000 lbs backhoe, your straps or chains need to be rated for 4,000 lbs. You need one in the front and one in the rear. If the cargo is over 10,000 lbs, you must strap all four corners for a working load limit of 50% or higher.

One thing that I learned, and not until watching the video for the second time, is critically important. If your strap loops around the equipment, the strap rating is cut in half. Why? The video doesn’t say but it likely has to do with how the strap was tested and that angles on the equipment may cut into the strap under extreme loads.

What looks to be a smooth rounded edge may decrease the strap strength by 40% when 2,000 lbs of pressure is applied. Consequently if you have to have 4,000 lbs in straps and each strap is rated for 2,000 lbs, if you wrap around the equipment and do not use the hooks, your straps are considered to be only 50% of the listed 2,000 lbs working load. To compensate you will need four 2,000 lbs straps which are considered 1,000 lbs each to get the 4,000 total, or 50% of the 8,000 lbs.

 

Securing Accessories Or Implements On Your Equipment

Often times trailer cargo includes equipment with a boom, grapple, mower or other implements that attach to the equipment. Implements require a separate conversation to ensure they are also secured. There are two ways to secure an implement.

  1. Utilize a factory locking mechanism
  2. Use straps or chains

A factory locking mechanism includes a pin or spring loaded locking handle that keeps the implement in place. These generally are designed for transporting the equipment with the implement attached. As a rule of thumb, if in doubt strap it down. Additionally, if a DOT officer can easily see you have taken the extra steps to secure your load, he/she will likely opt to pull over the truck next to you that did not take great care to be safe.

 

Securing Trailer Cargo Checklist

  • The better it looks, the less likely you are to get stopped. If it looks good, odds are you already did a good job.
  • Straps or chains are sufficient
  • Under 10,000 lbs, 1 strap in front and 1 in the rear
  • Over 10,001 lbs, strap the 4 corners
  • Secure cargo if it will impact the vehicle handling during an emergency maneuver or routine driving
  • Leave the load rating labels on the straps
  • Teach your drivers how to calculate the needed straps or chains based on cargo weight
  • Secure to immovable components, like the frame, not a brush grill
  • When in doubt, add more straps
  • Don’t overload the axles and tire max working load

Check the rules and regulations in the state you operate in and FMCSA for complete details.

 

Check out our other blogs on:

GPS Tracking

Fleet Management

Phone Tracking

Tablets & Data