What is the cost to the employer in time, liability, and fuel?
We’ve seen this a thousand times over the years. Company fleet vehicles being used to facilitate recreational activities. Car trackers can sometimes highlight this type of vehicle misuse but it can be difficult. What you want to look for in the GPS tracker website is vehicle activity that is off route, movement after hours, or a vehicle that stops tracking unexpectedly. Other indicators might be low productivity per hour compared to others, higher fuel costs or lower MPG per dollar generated or higher wages and fewer service calls completed.
Addressing unwanted driving starts with proper implementation. Read the Fleetistics guide to introducing car tracking to your employees.
Weather radar enables dispatchers to account for delayed delivery, slower travel times and HOS exceptions.
Weather Radar with GPS Tracking
When Time Counts
When the weather turns bad, consider how frequently you check the weather radar. You recognize the importance of good weather radar and data in your personal life, but do you apply the same to your fleet management practices? Weather radar provides information on more than just rain and snow. There are weather services that can predict black ice, surface temperatures and even tornado several hours into the future. The impact of good weather radar for drivers and dispatchers cannot be overestimated.
Free Weather Radar with GPS Tracking Service – Learn More
When a team of people in a New York call center are dispatching trucks across the country, they must understand the weather factors in areas they are unfamiliar with. When there is 5′ of snow on the ground it is foolish to attempt a delivery to some areas. When dispatchers are able to see areas of heavy snow or probable black ice, they can route vehicles around hazardous weather and produce more revenue than otherwise possible. Drivers arrive alive. Trucks are not stuck or involved in accidents and customers expectations are managed and met more consistently.
Wouldn’t it be great to know what is going to be needed before you received the order so you can offer just in time delivery of inventory? Everyone is familiar with the challenge of having the right inventory on hand to meet spikes in demand. Understanding where short-term demand will take place and how to get the supplies to meet the demand, can result in significant revenue increases. Of course you have the option to continue to do business the old way and respond two weeks after the demand has passed.
With almost everything in this country moving by truck at some point, knowing how weather impacts supply on short-term demands is critical. In many industries weather impacts demand in addition to supply. If a cold snap means the corns gets picked early, having trucks available to transport the corn is vital. If more tires are needed when the temperature exceeds 110 degrees in Arizona, having a 2 day heads up to move inventory can mean a spike in revenue. Being HOS compliant means not getting stuck in a hotel for 12 hours.
Weather Radar Integrated with GPS Tracking
With over 17 years of experience working with fleets, Fleetistics recognizes the need for fleet operators to see the location of their vehicles on same map during major weather events. Fleetistics customers utilizing Geotab telematics devices can choose from a variety of weather map layers depending on their location and transportation needs. Companies providing roadside assistance, to truckers, can deploy their technicians in a safer manner or change the schedule based on weather conditions to keep employees safe and customers serviced.
All Fleetistics customers can try any service listed in the Services Admin section with a free 30 day trial. Try the various services and see which provide the right return on investment and cancel the ones you do not need.
Many fleet owners understand there is value in GPS vehicle and asset tracking technology but they don’t know where to begin or understand the overall technology. By not knowing what to ask or look for a fleet manager is subject to a sales person’s perspective, option, guidance or twist on a solution to stated fleet problems.
We’ve all heard education is power but it also money. If you are not educated and make a bad in investment, it will cost you or your company money. As in most industries and situations, there may be 3-4 ways to resolve an issue with a technology solution. In every industry there is low end, low-cost solutions all the way to expensive and complete solutions. Knowing what you need, understanding the technology and being clear on a process will ensure you get the right solution for the lowest investment.
Weather impacts logistics and our lives like few other variables. We plan vacations around weather. We stay inside when it snows and we hit the beach when it is nice. In business, logistics dictate a significant percentage of our decisions and profitability. Driving into a storm around Chicago means excessive delays, higher costs, and missed delivery windows. Good weather data helps dispatchers, drivers and planners avoid these issues in real-time and in the near future.
Road conditions for trucking industry
Lightning strikes for field service workers
Rain volume for building, roofing and road construction, utility work
Safety & Productivity Benefits
Improve customer satisfaction with reliable scheduling
Reduced wages of people sitting around
Improve safety and reduce accidents
Deliver on-time and make more deliveries
Reduce call-backs and appointment cancellations
Reduce lighting strike or flood risk for outdoor activities
Weather Data Available
Watches and Warnings
This is a paid service.
Severe Storm Probability 1, 2, 3 days
Tropical Storm Forecast
Snow Fall Accumulation Forecast
Wind Speed & Direction
Storm Spaghetti Model
Road Condition (black ice, snow, etc)
Current Road Conditions
Current Roadway Threats
Current Driver Weather
This is a paid service.
Driver Feedback & Safety
Enabling drivers to see and communicate the situation on the road will enhance drive buy-in and improve effective communication with dispatch and logistics planners
Moving good around town or across North America takes planning. Daily decisions are made based on traffic patterns and accidents but weather plays less of a role in the planning process. With the right weather data, customer expectations can be properly set, less time is wasted and wages saved stuck in a snow storm, or resources can be repositioned to address weatherÃÂÃÂ events.
Real-time weather information is vital in industries that provide a rapid response or delivery services. Roadside assistance organizations serving the trucking industry must know the current weather and how that impacts their ability to safely and quickly service transportation companies. The individual dispatcher is able to make rapid decisions which impact customer satisfaction, operational efficiency, and driver safety.
Long-haul trucking and transportation can use future weather data to plan routes which are likely not to be delayed due to weather. Knowing a snow storm will cross a route in 24 hours, a tornado path is set to hit a delivery location or severe rains will cover a region all have the potential to have a significant impact on logistics planning and operations.
The Privacy Feature will be implemented in phases and will improve over time.
Privacy Mode in Geotab
Fleet Privacy Mode is a feature that allows drivers and dispatchers to freely stop driving activity for selected vehicles from appearing in user interface and API. Privacy Mode is intended for market-specific instances that require the driver to have optional intervals of privacy, such as when using a work vehicle for personal time or taking a work vehicle home at night. Many municipal agencies offertake home vehicles yet need to keep the employees general home private.
With PM enabled, information related to the vehicles position, speed, and engine data will not be processed as usual. Driving data created by a vehicle in PM will be marked as private when being stored into a Geotab database. Any such data cannot be viewed in online or extracted from the API using normal means. In circumstances like accident events, the manufacturer can extract private data for a vehicle to assist with event reconstruction, provided Geotab is given permission to access this data. Prior to granting such permission to Geotab, the customer must ensure they have received all necessary consents from the driver of the vehicle in question.
Privacy Mode is currently a beta feature. As a beta feature, Privacy Mode is still undergoing development and may have a number of bugs related to reports, the map, the rules engine, and other parts of the fleet management system. Customers can request to participate in beta service but there is no support provided to resolve issues. Learn more about the GO System.
The Trips History page will indicate any trips made in Privacy Mode with an icon and the title Private trip. Trip data can be set to remain private for a period of time of totally excluded from the customer account.
Fuel consumption is a significant variable when considering your rolling cost per mile which ties directly to profitability. Your two most expensive resources are unsupervised 90% of the time and they are your employees and vehicles. The GO GPS tracker does a great job at managing the vehicle and how it is used but a missing variable is fuel consumption. With the Geotab fuel app, drivers can log all fuel purchases for review in one central location. Because the GPS data is captured all the time the fuel data can now be tied to the GPS data. This gives you more oversight than doing expense reports but less oversight than using a Fleetistics fuel card.
Learning the basics of installation and troubleshooting is often faster than working through the help desk. The devices can be installed in about 20 minutes and troubleshooting can be done in about 10 minutes. This enables customers to resolve issues faster than getting on the phone and then being asked by support to perform the same steps anyway. It means you can get your fleet back on the road faster and making money. Click the links below to read more.
The quickest thing you can do for an initial test is to swap the GPS unit not working one from a known working vehicle. If the GPS units continue to exhibit the same performance in the new vehicle there is a high chance there is an issue with the GPS device.
It is important to perform this and other troubleshooting steps. Returning a device found to be working will result in a $35 bench testing and postage fee.
GO Device Light Definitions
On initial power-up, all three LEDs on the GO device will flash once in unison indicating that the device is receiving power. If none of the LEDs flash, this is an indicator that the device is not powered on.
After the initial flash, the Green LED will briefly turn solid indicating that the modem is connected to our servers. The Blue LED will also briefly turn solid indicating that the GPS is working. Both LEDs will eventually shut down if ignition is turned off.
Once ignition is turned on, the following are common light sequences indicating an issue:
Red and Blue only (most common)
Red and Green only
Proper GO Device Installation
The images below display proper installation of the GO device. For proper installation, ensure there is no gap between the device and the port, then secure the connection with a zip tie.
Device Status Table
Login into your MyFleetistics account and click the widget in the top right corner or use the menu as shown.
Click the image to enlarge.
See what hasn’t reported, view on a map and open a support case from one location.
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 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 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 (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
Vehicle location and speed data. Where an asset went, where it stopped and how long it was there.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
The frequency which the GPS tracker logs the position of the asset. This varies from a few seconds to once per day.
The rate at which the log data collected is transmitted to a cellular or satellite communication tower.
The rate at which the website refreshes and displays newly received log data.
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
Some things never change. One of the most basic applications of GPS tracking technology is stopping company vehicle abuse. Abuse comes in many forms but it always increases the fleet operator’s risk, liability and expenses. Over the years we have seen and heard many stories about company vehicle abuse.
Boat ramps are a great place to spot misuse of a company vehicle. Few employees seem to understand the risk and costs to an employer of hauling a boat, launching a boat and the added the wear and tear resulting from towing a boat. Don’t forget the immediate hard cost of fuel being consumed at twice the normal rate to go from home, to the boat storage facility, to the ramp and back. At a minimum half a tank of gas worth $20 is what was just stolen. YouTube has many examples of vehicles slipping into the water when trying to launch or recover a boat.
One of the worst examples of employee vehicle abuse is when an employee with a landscaping company was driving his company vehicle from Ft. Meyers to Ft. Lauderdale (150 miles one-way) to play golf. The employer naively allowed drivers to use the honor system to report personal miles verse company miles for payroll deductions and tax reductions. Strangely enough the driver failed to report this Sunday routine for several weeks. Even with a GPS tracking unit on his vehicle he continued to steal from his employer until he was caught.
Abuse is one behavior that can be prevented immediately with a vehicle tracking system. Speeding, after hours use, personal travel, towing, etc. are all behaviors easily identified through maps, alerts and reports. Almost any GPS system designed for vehicle tracking can provide this information. Asset trackers which provide less data may not give you the resolution needed to quickly address unwanted abuse.
NEMA is an organization that has developed an international standard for rating an enclosures resistance to various elements. Elements such as humans, moisture, debris, fire, temperature, pressure and other elements all determine an enclosures NEMA rating.
Understanding the NEMA rating can save you money in two ways. First, you don’t buy an enclosure with a NEMA rating well above what is needed. The “tougher” the enclosure or the higher the NEMA rating, the more expensive the enclosure. Second, you won’t under buy an the enclosure and lose what you are trying to protect in the enclosure.
For applications related to GPS vehicle tracking a NEMA enclosure from a big box store might be all you need and many are available in the electrical section for under $20.
General-purpose. Protects against dust, light, and indirect splashing but is not dust-tight; primarily prevents contact with live parts; used indoors and under normal atmospheric conditions.
Drip-tight. Similar to Type 1 but with addition of drip shields; used where condensation may be severe (as in cooling and laundry rooms).
Weather-resistant. Protects against falling dirt and windblown dust, against weather hazards such as rain, sleet and snow, and is undamaged by the formation of ice. Used outdoors on ship docks, in construction work, and in tunnels and subways.
As 3, but omits protection against windblown dust.
As 3, but also operable when laden with ice.
3X, 3RX, 3SX
X indicates additional corrosion protection; commonly used near salt water.
4 and 4X
Watertight. Must exclude at least 65 GPM of water from a 1 inch nozzle delivered from a distance not less than 10 ft for 5 min. Used outdoors on ship docks, in dairies, in wastewater treatment plants and breweries. X (as 4X) indicates additional corrosion resistance.
Dust-tight. Provided with gaskets or equivalent to exclude dust; used in steel mills and cement plants.
6 and 6P
Submersible. Design depends on specified conditions of pressure and time; submersible in water or oil; used in quarries, mines, and manholes. 6 is temporarily submersible, 6P withstands occasional prolonged submersion. Neither are intended for continuous submersion.
Certified and labelled for use in areas with specific hazardous conditions: for indoor use in Class I, Groups A, B, C, and D environments as defined in NFPA standards such as the NEC.
Certified and labeled for use in areas with specific hazardous conditions: for indoor and outdoor use in locations classified as Class I, Groups A, B, C, and D as defined in NFPA standards such as the NFPA 70.
Certified and labelled for use in areas with specific hazardous conditions: for indoor and outdoor use in locations classified as Class II, Groups E, F, or G as defined in NFPA standards such as the NEC.
MSHA. Meets the requirements of the Mine Safety and Health Administration, 30 CFR Part 18 (1978).
General-purpose. Protects against the corrosive effects of liquids and gases. Meets drip and corrosion-resistance tests.
12 and 12K
General-purpose. Intended for indoor use, provides some protection against dust, falling dirt, and dripping non-corrosive liquids. Meets drip, dust, and rust resistance tests.
General-purpose. Primarily used to provide protection against dust, spraying of water and non-corrosive coolants. Meets oil exclusion and rust resistance design tests.