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Garmin Fleet Tracking Review

Since its founding by Gary Burrell and Min Kao 25 years ago, Garmin has become synonymous with reliable, easy-to-use consumer GPS solutions. The now-global business has evolved considerably over the years.

It now brings in billions of dollars of income per annum, employs more than ten thousand people worldwide, and has diversified its product line to include GPS systems for aeronautical, marine, and personal use, in addition to a significant presence in telematics and fleet management.

Garmin Review
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Fleet-Ready Navigators

Garmin views its own hardware as only one link in a series of products and applications. A PND (Personal Navigation Device) links to an FMI (Fleet Management Interface) cable, a third-party transponder, a mobile network, and a third-party fleet management application. This is in contrast to some companies that offer both hardware and back-office functionality, but it does come with certain advantages.

Not least of these is a higher degree of flexibility for its customers, who are free to mix and match the other products and services as they see fit, rather than being saddled with a one-size-fits-all solution that isn't quite the correct fit.

Garmin Fleet Tracking Supported Devices

Nüvi

Garmin NuviNüvi: While the nüvi is a consumer device, with the addition of an FMI Data Cable, the nüvi 2xx7, 2xx8 and 2xx9 Series will support FMI version 3.1, while the 2xx5 series will support FMI version 2.7. With the addition of an FMI 45 or FMI 25 cable (depending on the device), data and traffic support is also available.


Dezl

Garmin DezlDezl: The dezl series is a navigation system designed specifically for trucks. Fully EOBR-compliant, the dezl offers FMI version 3.1 and FMI_HOS 2.2 support on the 770LMT, 570LMT and 760LMT, with FMI version 2.95/FMI_HOS 2.0 support on the dezl 560 series. All dezl modules require the FMI 15 Data Cable, with the option of data and traffic support with the addition of an FMI 45 cable.


Garmin fleet 660 & 670

Garmin FleetGarmin fleet: The fleet series takes the dezl platform to the next level. The Garmin fleet 660 and fleet 670 are purpose-built hardware that forms the backbone of its fleet management options. Both the 660 and 670 include free lifetime map updates, lifetime traffic avoidance, active lane guidance, Bluetooth sync, and advanced navigation systems. They also feature a headphone/audio line-out, spoken directions, Bluetooth connectivity, microSD slot, and audio/video playback.

Designed for light commercial trucking operated in local markets, the fleet 660 ($399.99 USD) combines the navigation features one takes for granted from Garmin with a magnetic mount that allows the device to be removed for signature verification, or for easier use with a variety of peripherals. The unit ships with a micro USB cable, magnetic and suction cup mounts, and manuals.

The fleet 670 ($449.00 USD) is designed for long-haul trucking, and adds additional functionality to the feature set included on the 660. The extended features include IFTA fuel logging, HOS violation warnings, specialized truck routing for loads restricted by dimensions, weight, or hazardous materials, road grade information, state border notices, and information on points of interest relevant to truckers (including rest areas, food, lodging).

A number of legacy versions of the nüvi and zumo support earlier versions of FMI. However, newer devices from the fleet, dezl and nüvi lines are required to run the current and most recent versions of the software.


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Partners

Existing partner network numbers in the dozens, and includes a host of telematics and hardware providers, including Spireon, NexTraq, FleetMatics, Naviman Wireless, GPS Partners, Blue Tree Systems, AAT, ATrack, CalAmp, Novatel, DCT and others. Garmin's reliance on the open source Android standard makes it easy for partners to devise applications that work in tandem with its hardware and the FMI platform.

An open API encourages developers and providers to bring new and innovative fleet management tools to the Garmin family of devices and to its users. In this way, both the company and its customers are constantly on the cutting edge with the latest SaaS (Software as a Service) utilities.

Support

Supports for their products is offered via phone and email, their dealer network, and an online portal that includes a FAQ, map updates and downloads, manuals, and videos. Additional support, where applicable, is available through partners and third-party vendors.

Conclusion

At first blush, Garmin's presence in fleet management could seem nearly counter-intuitive. After all, the company's name has been built on consumer products for personal and auto use. However, the same ethos that drives the company's consumer product division has paid dividends for its fleet management customers, who have benefited from its tireless innovation, their extensive partnerships with fleet management and telematics providers, and a stubborn commitment to customer service. Fleet managers will find a variety of options, some of which are capable of leveraging preexisting equipment that's already in their arsenals, to make their jobs easier.