What is GPS for Trucks?
The Global Positioning System (GPS) allows for both tracking and route finding and has many applications. It’s particularly useful for the transport and logistics sector. For fleet managers and truck owners GPS can help to improve efficiency, effectively manage costs and drivers, plan despatch routes, and judge timescales. For drivers it improves safety and security, aids navigation and takes the pressure off reporting.
A GPS system can be a fixed or mobile unit. A dedicated device or software installed on a smartphone, tablet or laptop. GPS software can be as simple as a standalone route finding system and location tracker or as complex as a fully networked reporting and scheduling system.
An active networked GPS system can allow fleet managers to view vehicle locations on interactive maps at a central location and receive data in real time. Passive systems can record and store data which can be transmitted on return to a base location or at the end of a journey. An active system will also have a passive capability when away from an internet connection but will receive and transmit data once connected back to the web. The GPS tracking system can not only give route navigation and location but also record information about fuel, engines, vehicle systems, speed and altitude.
Dedicated GPS systems for trucks include important information relevant for larger vehicles, routes are adapted to account for the dimensions and speed of the vehicle, low bridges are avoided and hazards identified and managed.
GPS tracking systems use both GPS locator beacons and a WiFi or data connection to receive and transmit data via satellite and internet.
Why is GPS Tracking Important for Truck Drivers?
For truck drivers GPS tracking has become a vital tool. Without GPS for trucks, route planning goes back to held knowledge or map work. The latter of which can be highly dangerous if a driver is travelling alone and trying to navigate on the move. GPS systems are proven to increase safety. If a truck is stolen, without GPS, it is far less likely to be recovered costing both driver and owner valuable time and money.
Why is GPS Tracking Beneficial for Truck Drivers?
Drivers benefit from GPS tracking as much as fleet managers do. They have an easier, safer method of navigation. They can be tracked on their routes for their own safety especially in high risk areas and dangerous isolated routes. This also helps to gain access to faster breakdown assistance.
GPS systems can track driving and timesheet hours and report this data in real time negating the need for drivers to complete lengthy paperwork. It also prevents any conflict from customers as to the timings or event of deliveries, and removes the driver from having to participate in any such customer conflict.
Why is GPS Tracking Beneficial for Trucking Companies?
GPS tracking for trucking companies and fleet managers can give substantial cost savings. It allows control of every truck on the road, and predominantly in real time.
Fuel costs can be reduced by monitoring speed to maximise fuel efficiency, limit idling and effectively plan journeys ahead of time. For companies who need to mobilise drivers already on the road to a new task, they can locate quickly the nearest vehicle.
Drivers can be monitored for speed, time off the road or vehicle idling and break times or overnight stays can be managed where necessary.
Safety and security
Breakdown assistance can be mobilised quickly when needed and stolen vehicles or drivers in danger can be located almost immediately.
Route planning is essential, but real time data on construction, closed roads or problematic traffic issues allow fleet managers to react and manage any potential delays.
GPS Truck Tracking Costs
GPS tracking systems can be installed on smartphones or tablets. However, for fleets of vehicles standalone GPS units may be more practical than drivers using their own devices. These truck installed units, as with phone, tablet or laptop applications, report into software on a central computer or company computer network via the internet. Transponders are sometimes used, for example on freight containers, or where a constant GPS signal is required.
GPS Software for Smartphones Costs
Purchasers would choose whether to utilise their existing smartphones or devices, or purchase devices, data subscriptions and the GPS tracking software for them, which would all come with their own costs.
Standalone GPS unit with a Data Connection Subscription
A standalone GPS unit with software native to the device would need a data subscription for the upload and download of GPS data.
When purchasing GPS tracking software or dedicated GPS devices there is often a price + monthly subscription which includes the monthly service charges to use mobile and data networks for transmission as with a mobile phone plan. Charges will usually reflect the number of devices and users required.
GPS Tracking Management Software for Central Computer/Network
For in depth data handling and the management of a fleet of vehicles additional software may need to be purchased, usually at a monthly subscription cost.
Best GPS Tracking Providers for Trucks
Garmin, Rand McNally and PC Miler are some of biggest trucking GPS brands supplying North America. Their products and suitability vary as does the pricing. There are also many other competing products and brands on the market. A purchaser should look to identify the setup and functionality they need then conduct a full price comparison for the option that suits them best.
Garmin are GPS specialists. The company was formed in 1989, covering automotive, aviation, marine, outdoor and sport applications.
Their Dezl brand is their major product currently for the trucking industry and units offer built in dash cams, easy to see high resolution touch screens and of course excellent navigation, road condition, time management and reporting.
The dash cam continually records the drive and an Incident Detection Sensor automatically records footage if a collision or harsh breaking is detected. It’s also easily removal from the truck if the driver needs to take still pictures of an incident outside of the vehicle.
Advisories and cautions are a major part of the software, alerting to sharp curves, high wind areas, grounding risks, descents and ascents, and road restrictions. Speed limits for trucks are also displayed in areas when they are lower than for cars. For built up areas there is Active Lane Guidance and PhotoReal Junction View or Birds Eye Junction View.
Fleet managers and drivers can enter the dimensions of the vehicle for more customized routing and Truck friendly Points of Interests (POI’s) and services.
The Dezl includes lifetime current maps of North America with the newest data available at no extra charge. Reporting features include fuel, distance, service needs, working hours and is fully supported by the Garmin Fleet Management Interface.
The Garmin Dezl starts from around $360.00 CAD for a single device.
Rand McNally are traditionally a map publisher, developing with technology into the GPS marketplace. They have a strong focus on the commercial transportation market and developed their IntelliRoute TND line after thousands of hours of testing with real truck drivers on the road.
Rand McNally have two key products for the commercial transport marketplace, their IntelliRoute TND GPS devices and their TND Tablets.
The TND Tablet is a fully functioning android tablet with advanced trucking GPS, a dash cam and pre-loaded dedicated trucking software. It includes lifetime mapping and traffic, routing with advanced lane and split screen junction views, truck POI’s, and ten different weather map overlays for route conditions.
For business management the TND Tablet includes the IntelliRoute TND functionality of the GPS devices including apps which manage fuel, accounting, load board and document imaging. It also can help manage fuel prices with a live fuel price comparison and includes toll costs along all routes. Mileage can be analysed and viewed by state/province if required.
The IntelliRoute TND GPS device covers all the basic truck management capacities of the tablet in a dedicated GPS device with 5” or 7” screens.
The TND Tablet is currently priced at around $699.99 CAD
PC Miler is an ALK Technologies brand. ALK Technologies is a dedicated transportation technology with a 30 year background.
Their latest software release is PC Miler 30 which is available for android and smartphone devices but they no longer offer a dedicated GPS device.
PC Miler take GPS tracking for trucks and fleet managers to the next level with standard functionality like fuel, toll, time, service and route management but go a step further with bespoke extensions for key sectors. They offer dedicated applications for hazardous materials, rail and energy transporting as well as in depth traffic and weather management.
PC Miler Software starts at around $1895.00 CAD.