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The trucking benefits of real-time GPS tracking

As timing and sticking to a schedule are crucial to any fleet’s ability to maximize profits, many fleets are turning to software solutions to ensure increased driver accountability, including by using real-time GPS tracking devices.

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As timing and sticking to a schedule are crucial to any fleet’s ability to maximize profits, many fleets are turning to software solutions to ensure increased driver accountability, including by using real-time GPS tracking devices.

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We discussed the benefits of implementing such devices across a fleet in this Q&A with Benjamin Van Avery, director of sales and marketing at Advanced Tracking Technologies, Inc. (ATTI), a Houston-based designer and manufacturer of GPS tracking products.

FE: How can GPS tracking devices help fleet managers, owners and their drivers?

Van Avery: Drivers that are held to a clear, unbiased standard perform better for the company—and themselves. Through GPS tracking, drivers can take more ownership for their jobs, have more clarity of tasks and results, can self-correct and improve and do not have to be micromanaged. Even well-intentioned drivers may discover that there are areas of improvement that could make them more productive. 

On the plus side for drivers and employees, the use of such GPS tracking systems helps verify on-time arrival at customer sites. Automated reporting such as that provided by the ATTI system can virtually eliminate the reporting burden for employee and employer in regard to driving logs. Also, with greater accountability,
higher-performing employees are more likely to be recognized and rewarded based on verifiable performance. 

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There are also indirect benefits. When drivers are monitored, those not pulling their weight are more easily identified so that productive employees do not have to pick up the slack with extra deliveries or service visits. 

More accountable drivers lead to greater efficiency overall, which means increased profits. It’s an argument that is hard to deny, particularly as GPS tracking continues to improve while the cost of entry plummets.

FE: How can GPS trackers help fleet managers hold drivers to a higher standard?

Van Avery: Advances in GPS technology allow for more real-time tracking and simplified reporting. Fleet managers don’t want to spend all day on their computers sifting through complex data. They want simplified, easy to read reports that summarize what they need to know. Fortunately, such systems exist today and at rates of less than $20 per vehicle.

Advanced units allow real-time and historical tracking of each vehicle in a fleet. This allows dispatchers to assign the closest vehicle to a job, which expedites the service work or delivery and saves gas, labor and vehicle wear-and-tear. It also allows historical routing analysis, which enables even greater routing efficiencies to be determined on an individual or fleet-wide basis. 

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Automated exception reporting can also flag potential issues that need to be corrected, such as excess vehicle mileage or idling.

However, the greatest improvements in fleet management occur when GPS tracking devices are used to hold drivers to a clear, unbiased standard to encourage better performance for the company and themselves.

“Once drivers and the work crew know they are accountable for their actions, it is amazing how much more they will accomplish.”

Benjamin Van Avery, Advanced Tracking Technologies Inc.

FE: How often should GPS tracking devices update to achieve the best results in terms of driver accountability for the fleet?

Van Avery: Typical GPS tracking devices may update every few minutes or more, which does not actually provide real-time accountability because drivers know they have a certain amount of lag time between updates. In contrast, some advanced trackers today provide real-time location updates every 10 seconds, as well as location, speed and idle time alerts if something is amiss. This data is transmitted via satellite and cellular networks to a smartphone or PC on a 24/7 basis.

With such accountability for how every minute of each day is spent, employees know they are always “on the clock.” This helps to eliminate frivolous or unnecessary stops during the workday and decreases wasted time during a stop. 

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One fleet manager at a residential and commercial construction company put it this way: “Now we know exactly where our vehicles and drivers are in real time. We can spot check our drivers to make sure they are where they are supposed to be and not at unauthorized places because some people will take advantage. That has saved us a few thousand dollars in salary alone. The system more than pays for itself in enhanced productivity.”

FE: How much can GPS tracking boost fleet productivity if successfully implemented?

Van Avery: Once drivers and the work crew know they are accountable for their actions, it is amazing how much more they will accomplish. Using such an approach with advanced GPS tracking commonly improves productivity 10% to 20% while reducing fuel costs 10% to 15%, as drivers start to pay attention to their driving and work habits throughout the day.

Busy fleet managers who need to optimize productivity can particularly benefit from the ability of advanced GPS systems to automate reporting, so reports can be delivered without anyone having to open software. In addition to the real-time views of the activity taking place, next day reports can be delivered by email, documenting everything that happened the day before. The reports can be customized, for example, to show how many drivers idled for more than 30 minutes or how many miles were put on a vehicle.

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Check out the rest of the June digital edition of Fleet Equipment here.

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