GPS Tracker Comparison

GPS Tracker Comparison

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GPS Tracking System
Finding the right GPS tracker can mean thousands toward your ROI.

GPS Tracker Comparison

There are a wide variety of GPS trackers on the market today. Almost anything can be tracked but not everything can be tracked well. Understanding the basics of GPS tracking technology will help you make a quicker and better decision for your asset tracking needs. Being familiar with the industry terminology and technology will actually lead to an increased ROI. If you are looking for a fleet safety tool but realize you can also benefit from productivity data, you can find a GPS tracker that can help in both areas.

Let’s get started.

 

Vehicle v. Asset Tracking
 
Vehicle Trackers

Vehicle tracking provides a consistent and generally protected environment inside the vehicle. Devices don’t need to be IP67 rated like asset trackers which are more expensive. Vehicle GPS trackers typically use cellular communication due to a desire for more data, at a lower cost, because satellite coverage is not needed. Vehicle tracking services typically update every few seconds to no more than 2 minutes depending on the monthly cost. More data means a higher monthly cost.

Asset Trackers

Asset tracking can be done with satellite tracking systems or cellular GPS trackers depending on where the assets operate. Frac tanks used in the oil and gas industry generally use satellite trackers. Skid steers in urban construction almost always use cellular GPS trackers. Customers generally choose to receive more data at a lower cost; even if they cannot track an asset live 100% of the time. All GPS trackers have dead spots where they cannot communicate for some reason.

Backup Batteries

Backup batteries (BBs) are often requested and needed for unpowered assets. GPS devices require power from the asset or from a battery to operate. Assets, such as trailers, often sit without power for extended periods until connected to a tractor where power is restored. In these cases, a backup battery is needed. In vehicles, GPS devices receive constant power from the car battery.

In vehicle tracking, backup batteries are less important. BBs don’t enable the device to function as normal. BBs put the device in a reduced performance mode so the battery lasts longer. Customers often think BB will enable them to track the driver after they remove the GPS tracker as if it were still installed. BBs range from a CR2525 watch battery to lithium ion batteries. Vehicle trackers typically use small BBs which generally show you where the employee tossed the GPS unit out the window but not much more.

We sell all of the above options and have seen every scenario over the last 16+ years.

Tracking, Telematics, Diagnostics
Tracking

Vehicle location and speed data. Where an asset went, where it stopped and how long it was there.

Telematics

Data provided by the vehicles computer network and sensors (excluding engine data). This includes RPMs, accelerometer data for jack rabbit starts, harsh breaking, and reckless driving. It is the data used in accidents. Read more

Engine Diagnostics

Data transmitted by the engine through the OBD or J-Bus port generally consisting of fault codes and status data. There is a wide range of data available and GPS companies claim to offer these if they provide one data point out of several hundred. Ask good questions.

Installation & Tampering

 

There are essentially two types of installation used today; 3-wire and plug and play. The 3-wire installation is considered more reliable but it isn’t if the plug-and-play installation is done right with a Y-harness. View more on installations. 3-wire installations can be done on small to mid-size fleet trucks by most anyone that can install a car stereo. On bigger trucks and equipment it is best to use a trained installer or mechanic. Learning to install and troubleshoot the technology can save your operation a lot of time and money.

Tampering has been an issue for over 16 years. Tampering occurs with plug-and-plan (P&P) and 3-wire devices about equally. OBD devices that are installed without a Y-harness (moves GPS into the dash) are the most likely to be tampered with. Companies that sell devices requiring 3-wire installs will tell you OBD devices are always an issue. We sell both and the tamper rate is about the same. Tampering stops when you put your foot down. Read more about introducing GPS trackers to employees.

Equipment Considerations

 

Several equipment considerations such as backup batteries and communication networks are discussed in other areas of this blog. However, there are other things to consider in the physical design and construction of the GPS device itself.

First, all GPS trackers are not made equal. Significantly more engineering goes into some devices like the Geotab GO device. Other GPS units are almost “dumb” in comparison and everything else is in between. We sell them all so we are communicating facts as we know them, not opinions.

GPS devices vary in construction quality. Some have thinner plastics and others more robust internal components. A good GPS chip set means faster acquisition time from a cold start and more accurate coordinates in tough environmental conditions. Some devices do well in heat where others shut down in the Arizona sun. Ask for the technical specification sheet and the warranty on the device.

Warranty Considerations

If you think about GPS trackers like a cell phone you will be able to easily understand the general conditions. In short, most have a limited warranty period if you are not on a perpetual lease or rental. Second, if you break it you buy it. If it breaks, you keep paying for the service until fixed. If it fails due to manufacturing the device is replaced and you are responsible for the service cost to swap the unit.

Backup Battery Size and Type

Lithium ion batteries are the only real choice for a battery due to durability and long-life. The size of the battery in milliamps determines how long the battery will last based on the draw from the GPS unit when asleep and when it wakes to transmit without constant power. Since batteries don’t last forever be sure the device will use off the shelf batteries to keep your cost down. Having to special order custom batteries drives up the operational cost. If you can replace the batteries you will save big money on service work.

ELD & Dispatching
 
Electronic Logging Device (ELD for FMSCA compliance)

ELD is a big deal which is coming at certain industries fast and furious. Selecting the right GPS tracker means you will also get ELD options, if and when needed. Those fleets not yet AOBRD compliant by December 17 2019 will be in violation and taken out of service.

Read the full 126-page ruling here.

Dispatching

Dispatching is the process of sending stop or route data to a driver. Most ELD devices will offer some type of dispatching as an additional service. If you need both getting a GPS tracker that offers both will be significantly more convenient than two systems, which aren’t integrated, from two vendors.

Cellular v. Satellite

 

There are really two types of communication technology used for GPS trackers, satellite, and cellular. Don’t confuse GPS satellite with communication satellites. GPS satellites broadcast a radio wave like an FM radio station and you cannot “talk” back to it. Cellular and satellite communication generally talks 2-ways but satellites can be 1-way.

Most GPS trackers use cellular networks to move GPS and other data from the vehicle, to a cell tower, to a server, to the Internet. Because of the low cost, most fleet operators use cellular. Understanding the carrier used and the coverage footprint will enable you to know when you will receive “live” tracking data. Cellular is also more reliable because it can communicate with the towers more easily due to the radio frequency used.

Satellite communication is more of a specialty technology used when assets are operating in very remote areas where cellular service is not an option. Communication satellite signals do not penetrate objects such as trees or buildings and costs significantly more than cellular. Satellite systems also manage battery power differently which leads to less detailed track data.

Cellular networks generally use GSM or CDMA technology. Verizon and Sprint use CDMA and are generally being phased out and replaced by 4G or LTE service which also SIM cards. GSM is the international standard and is easily identified by a SIM card. SIM cards offer some flexibility but you cannot take a GPS device from one vendor and use it on another vendors website.

Log, Update & Refresh Rates

 

Understanding the relationship is important to sort out the information from various sales reps. Unfortunately, most sales reps in call centers don’t understand these concepts so you will have to prompt them to explain each in detail so you know what you are getting.

Log Rate

The frequency which the GPS tracker logs the position of the asset. This varies from a few seconds to once per day.

Update Rate

The rate at which the log data collected is transmitted to a cellular or satellite communication tower.

Refresh Rate

The rate at which the website refreshes and displays newly received log data.

Integration

 

Integration refers to the sharing or movement of data between applications, databases or services in order to increase the overall use and value of data already paid for. If you have a need to utilize the GPS tracker data in other areas you want to be sure the GPS vendor offers APIs. APIs are an industry standard method of moving data via the Internet in a secure manner. Read more

DriveTRAX – How’s My Driving Program – Free

DriveTRAX – How’s My Driving Program – Free

DriveTRAX How's My Driving Program

Click to enlarge

GPS Tracking Can’t Do it All

As much as we love GPS tracking technology it cannot give you the needed data in all situations. We have seen many situations like the one to the left which provides a terrible public perception of the city and their workers. This photo was taken alongside a busy 6 lane road during the lunch rush hour.

The DriveTRAX program is free to Fleetistics GPS tracking customers. DriveTRAX provides another layer of insight that is provide by citizens. Fleetistics integrates the GPS tracking data with the citizen reports to keep your public perception strong.

Catch Them Doing Something Right

The goal is not to catch employees doing something wrong. The goal should be to catch them doing what you want them to do, rewarding that behavior and quickly addressing the unwanted behavior. Unfortunately some people don’t learn and they are making a choice to work some place else, like your competitor that isn’t using Fleetistics technology. Click to compare. DriveTRAX is very cost effective and free for the first year with our GPS vehicle tracking service.

DriveTRAX Dashboard for Analytics

Return on Investment Series: Proactively Manage Driver Behavior

Return on Investment Series: Proactively Manage Driver Behavior

Fleet Savings Summary

The Fleet Savings Summary Report highlights your fleets top five most valuable driver coaching opportunities by vehicle. These drivers can be interpreted as the fleets most costly drivers of spending, and therefore represent the best bang for your buck driver coaching opportunities. Driver behavior can be critical to the operations of your vehicles.

Proactive management is key. Aberdeen Group reports that top performing organizations are 96% more likely than their peers to utilize technology that alerts management, and the driver, of exceptions being made (i.e., speeding, harsh cornering, etc).

 

Conclusion

Today’s fleet managers are under extreme pressure to manage their fleet costs despite deteriorating economic conditions. These costs include the procurement and disposal of the vehicles, fixed and variable operating costs, labor costs, as well as collision and insurance claims.

Using telematics data, fleet managers can discover new cost savings opportunities across their entire fleet. By pursuing these savings opportunities, a fleet manager can reduce their COI, improve their fleets operating efficiency, and grow their bottom line. Conversely, managing a fleet without a telematics platform is likely to result in higher costs and poor visibility for improvement.

Telematics and the Fleet Savings Summary are valuable tools that fleet managers should use to better understand and proactively manage their vehicles and drivers, and ultimately run a more profitable fleet.

Click here to request more information.

 

 

 

 

Return on Investment Series: Identify Key Opportunities for Cost Savings

Return on Investment Series: Identify Key Opportunities for Cost Savings

Identify Key Opportunities for Cost Savings

In this fourth part of our ROI/COI blog, we will discuss specific telematics related cost savings categories that compile our Fleet Savings Summary Report.

#1 Safety: Reducing costly vehicle collisions

The U.S. Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) reports the following figures:

Cost Savings

 

Collisions, speeding, and aggressive driving behaviors were found to be a contributing factor in 31% of all fatal crashes, while seat belt use was found to decrease the risk of a fatality by between 45-60%. With this knowledge and the use of our telematics program, fleet managers can improve profitability by monitoring driver behaviors and proactively coaching drivers.

Other in-cab driver feedback tools such as GO TALK and real-time audible alerts can drastically reduce the likelihood of an on-duty accident. This can also be quantified in a reduction to insurance costs. To quantify these savings, the Fleet Savings Summary Report uses a proprietary safety-scoring algorithm to determine the existing and potential savings for a fleet.

 

#2 Fuel: Controlling Runaway Fuel Cost Savings

Managing fuel costs can be complicated and involve a number of variable, including fluctuating gas prices and inconsistent driver behavior. For many fleets, fuel is one for the largest expenses.

Fact: The U.S. Department of Energy reports that rapid acceleration and heavy braking can reduce fuel economy by up to 33% for highway driving and 5% on city roads. Idling and speeding can also have drastic impacts on MPG.

Market research has shown that the effective use of telematics has an effect on fuel cost savings by as much as 14%. Driver coaching is instrumental in achieving these cost reductions. For every 5 mph over 50 mph, a driver can reduce their MPG by approximately 7-14%. Therefore, getting drivers to slow down and observe the speed limit translates into saved money.

The Fleet Savings Summary Reports uses a proprietary fuel-scoring algorithm to determine a fleets existing and potential fuel-related savings. In doing so, driver speeding incidents and idle time were found to be the largest contributor to fuel waste, which resulted in fuel-related savings.

 

#3 Maintenance: Reducing Planned and Unplanned Repair and Maintenance

We all know that preventative maintenance is a regular part of owning a vehicle, but additional repairs due to aggressive driving and vehicle misuses are an unnecessary cost to a fleet. Particularly, harsh accelerations, harsh cornering, and harsh braking cause harmful wear and tear on critical vehicle components. This drastically increases a vehicles variable CpM.

The results materialize as reduced tire life, reduced brake life, more frequent scheduled maintenance and more frequent non- scheduled maintenance and repair. In fact, these non-scheduled maintenance interruptions can result in lost profits of between $400 to $700 per day, in addition to the cost of repairs.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reports that telematics technology can help a company reduce maintenance and repair cost by as much as 14%. Because much of these savings are tied to driver behavior, using real-time driver management tools and in-cab alerts are the best way to minimize unnecessary wear and tear on your fleet vehicles.

By managing the aggressive driving behaviors, fleet managers can minimize their maintenance repair costs, in in turn generate savings reflected in the Fleet Savings Summary Report in the Maintenance section.

 

#4 Productivity: Increasing Work Efficiency

Driver compensation is often a large portion of a fleets operating budget. That being said, labor can be very expensive for fleet managers. Among the many ways to calculate labor productivity, vehicle idle time is an important metric. Even though idle time only captures a component of employee productivity, it is the only metric that the Fleet Savings Summary Report utilizes for its productivity-based scoring algorithm at this time.

Market research suggests that telematics can increase workforce productivity and reduce labor costs by up to 12%.14 This allows companies to make more customer stops and cut out unproductive mileage. The net effect is higher revenues and lower costs.

Using the Fleet Savings Summary Reports proprietary productivity-based scoring algorithm, this increase in workforce productivity translates into productivity-related saving. To maximize these savings, fleet managers must limit their fleets idle labor, which is approximated using vehicle idle hours per trip.

I know we said this was going to be a 4-part series but there is so much great information to offer that we have added a 5th part. In the next series we will discuss how to proactively manage driver behavior. Putting all these steps into place to maximize your ROI and decrease your COI!

Click here to request more information.

 

Return on Investment Series: Fleet Savings Summary

Return on Investment Series: Fleet Savings Summary

What is the Fleet Savings Summary Report?

The Fleet Savings Summary Report is a snapshot of existing versus potential savings for your fleet. These savings were determined through the use of proprietary driver scoring algorithms.

 

Fleet Savings Summary

Report Overview

 

To calculate a fleets existing and potential telematics-related savings, a detailed breakdown of its operating costs are required. Geotab conducted a combination of primary and secondary North American market research to develop fleet-specific Cost-per-Mile (CpM) models, including sub-models for fixed vehicle related costs, variable vehicle related costs, and driver salary related costs. There are two major factors that impact the nature of fleet costs, vehicle class & vehicle mileage.

  • Fleet Savings ReportVehicle Class – The vehicle makeup of a fleet has a big impact on its operating costs. For example, Heavy-Duty (HD) trucks have a very different CpM breakdown than Medium-Duty (MD) and Light-Duty (LD) vehicles. The Fleet Savings Summary Report segregates CpM data into three classifications: HD, MD & LD.
  • Vehicle Mileage – Just as vehicle class impacts CpM, vehicle mileage can have a large impact as well. This is true for two reasons:
    • Fixed vehicle and driver costs will be spread over less total miles.
    • Vehicles that drive fewer miles will likely spend a larger portion of their driving time on city roads rather than highways or freeways, which can increase the vehicles variable CpM.

 

In order to determine a fleets average mileage, the Fleet Savings Summary Report automatically calculates an average monthly mileage for the entire fleet, and multiplies it by 12 to get the estimated annual value.

In the next series we will discuss how we identify key opportunities for cost-savings.

Click here to request more information.