Why do motor carriers, delivery companies, and long-haul truckers all use fleet management GPS trackers?
Because when shaving just a few minutes off a regular call is the difference between a happy client and a cancelled contract, vehicle tracking solutions are worth the investment.
As well as superior customer service, companies using fleet management GPS solutions generally find less vehicle downtime and lower fuel costs to be among the biggest advantages.
GPS tracking for small businesses has been around since the early 1990s. Today, hundreds of fleet management GPS solutions are vying for your attention. Only a handful are worth it.
Read on for our top picks.
Best Fleet Management GPS Trackers 2018
Lytx DriveCam GPS Trackers
DriveCam helps reduce risky driving behaviour by up to 70%, making this vehicle tracking solution a literal life saver.
- Champions driver safety
- Respects driver privacy
- Offers predictive insights
- No dispatch management
Omnitracs GPS Trackers
Omnitracs caters to budgets large and small with its Roadnet Telematics range.
- Easy installation
- Superb customer support
- Affordable monthly plans
- No inventory management
Garmin GPS Trackers
Garmin fleet management software is supremely easy to integrate with third party products.
- Unparallelled partner network
- Slick user interface
- Plentiful product support
- Newer models no longer support older software
JJ Keller GPS Trackers
JJ Keller’s Encompass range continues to impress in 2018 with incredible portability and ease of use.
- The market leader in regulatory compliance
- Strong mobile suite
- Simple HOS logging
- Complex pricing
- Lacks some telematics features
Zonar GPS Trackers
Zonar’s real-time tracking solutions are a shrewd buy for tech savvy fleet managers wanting advanced insights.
- Robust hardware
- Best-in-field geofencing
- HD GPS interface
- No real-time tire management
- Lacks automatic mileage tracking
US Fleet Tracking
The Oklahoma City-based US Fleet Tracking has been fleet management provider of choice at the last ten Super Bowls.
- Speedy (<1 second) real-time refresh rate
- Flexible pay-as-you-go pricing
- Company listens to user feedback
- No inspection management
ARI Fleet Management Services
ARI combines analytics software with strategic consulting services in a holistic fleet management package.
- ARI's unmatched expertise
- Proven effectiveness with large global clients
- Costlier than most pure SaaS solutions
LiveViewGPS Vehicle Tracking
LiveViewGPS fleet management solutions reduce fuel consumption, boost driver efficiency and cut maintenance bills.
- Great dispatching functionality
- Sensibly tiered pricing
- Slightly clunky user interface
How Does Fleet Management Differ from GPS Tracking?
Fleet management is the broad term for managing a company’s vehicle fleet. This can include different functions, like fuel management, vehicle tracking, and driver management.
Fleet tracking, or vehicle tracking, is remotely monitoring information about vehicles. This typically includes their location, speed, driver behaviour and journey history. Fleet telematics refers to technologies that can send, receive and store this information.
Modern vehicle tracking systems in the US use GPS tracking technology to monitor vehicle location. The onboard GPS tracker records relevant geodata, stores it in a local or cloud-hosted database, and sends it back to the fleet owner.
The difference between fleet management and GPS tracking is that fleet management covers more functions. The distinction hardly matters if you're considering buying a GPS tracker for fleet management, because most modern fleet management GPS trackers include more than just basic vehicle tracking features.
Types of GPS Tracker
Real-time vs Passive GPS Tracking
Real-time (or active) GPS trackers send updates every few seconds, providing location and telemetry data in near real time. They rely on a combination of wireless and GPS signals to stay in constant contact with your fleet HQ.
Staying on top of urgent developments can be tricky, particularly for managers of larger fleets. To this end, real-time fleet tracking is essential. Using real-time tracking, fleet managers can:
- Give drivers early warning (and a competitive advantage) regarding route disruptions
- Identify and address errant driver behaviour before it adversely impacts operations
- Limit vehicles to certain geographical areas (‘geofencing’) and monitor compliance
- Track stolen vehicles and help the police to recover them successfully
- Lend immediate support to drivers involved in road accidents
Passive GPS trackers record exactly the same vehicle information as real-time GPS trackers. The difference is that rather than continuously sending data to your fleet management hub, passive trackers store data locally on each vehicle.
Passive GPS trackers are often a smart choice for small fleets of fewer than five vehicles. They’re cheaper than real-time trackers, just as accurate, and some have the added advantage of being portable. So, if you have high vehicle downtime, you can save money by rotating passive GPS trackers between vehicles.
However, real-time GPS trackers are fast becoming the industry standard, even for small fleets. There are three huge reasons for the steady trend towards real-time tracking:
- Falling production costs are bringing real-time trackers ever-closer in price to their passive peers.
- Passive vehicle trackers offer none of the on-the-fly possibilities of real-time trackers
- You have to manually plug each passive tracker into a computer to read the data stored on it. More and more fleet owners are opting out of this time-intensive process. For a slightly higher initial cost, real-time GPS tracking saves a lot of time in the long run.
Standalone GPS vs Smartphone GPS Trackers
As smartphones disrupted markets in the mid-2000s, so did smartphone GPS apps. In a short space of time, cheap smartphone apps took market share away from standalone consumer satnavs.
You’re probably familiar with GPSs from the likes of Motorola and TomTom, but did you know they also make fully-fledged fleet management GPS solutions for business?
Standalone GPS trackers for fleet management are now more popular than ever. Conversely, several limitations of smartphones make them unsuitable for most businesses’ fleet tracking needs:
- A typical 8-12 hour smartphone battery life simply isn't good enough for round-the-clock fleet tracking
- Smartphone GPSs can't be hardwired to a vehicle's engine. This means features like engine starts and stops reporting and tire health tracking are out of the question.
- It's easier to exploit smartphone weaknesses to tamper with tracking data than it is with standalone fleet tracking solutions
Although smartphone apps fall short as fleet management solutions, they can still be useful. Top fleet tracking systems include mobile apps that let you set up key alerts and track the performance of individual vehicles with ease.
Fleet Reporting Software Types
Fleet management software can help you to run your business better. However, when it comes to feature sets, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better.
Different suppliers’ software packages may or may not offer value for money for your business. Whether or not they do depends on what your business really needs. For more guidance on common features, read our fleet management features breakdown.
ELD Mandate Compliance
Since December 2017, all commercial fleets subject to FMCSA regulation must comply with the ELD Mandate.
The ELD Mandate at a Glance
Here are three things every fleet manager should know about the ELD Mandate:
- Some, but not all, fleet tracking solutions are ELD Mandate-compliant
- Since December 2017, non-compliant fleets risk paying fines and even being ordered to shut down service
- If you're not 100% sure if your fleet is compliant, contact your fleet management supplier immediately
For more detailed advice, consult our dedicated guide.
To request quotes for compliant fleet management solutions, fill out our short webform.
Get started with ELD Mandate-compliant GPS tracking solutions
Fleet Management GPS Features to Look Out For
GPS Tracking Devices for Automobiles
Driver dispatch and scheduling are basic but important functions that car fleet owners shouldn’t neglect. They'll let you keep track of driver job queues and help you set realistic expectations for your customers.
Garmin supplies GPS tracking devices for automobiles that focus on managing resources effectively.
Top tip: Make sure your GPS tracking solution includes dispatch and scheduling features.
GPS Tracking for Vans and Trucks
In an ideal world, you’d optimize vehicle loads for every job. In practice, however, you’ve also got to consider the load weight, dimensions, sequencing, and special handling instructions from customers. That’s easier said than done.
Fortunately, some fleet management solutions can calculate optimal loads for each vehicle. Omnitracs advanced software can even make recommendations about your underutilised vehicles.
Top tip: Pair GPS tracking with load optimization software to find the most fuel-efficient loads for each van and truck in your fleet.
GPS Tracking for Heavy Duty Trucks
Fuel costs are the biggest operational expense for commercial truck fleets. Enter fleet management software that not only cuts your fuel bill, but helps you complete your IFTA fuel tax returns at the end of each quarter. In particular, managers of interstate motor carriers find combined trip and fuel reporting helpful. According to Nick Hann, President of JWH Transport, Verizon Connect’s fuel tracking saves a whole day of office admin each week. This frees drivers and other employees to focus on more important work.
It’s as simple as running a quick report to show you the mileage and fuel consumption by vehicle in each state.
Top tip: Trip and fuel reporting are fleet management must-haves for heavy duty fleet owners.
Hopefully you’re better equipped now to ask the right questions of fleet management GPS suppliers on the phone. When you’re ready, you can save time by completing our supplier contact webform. It only takes a few seconds, and we’ll use your answers to match you with the best suppliers for your needs.
By the way, the companies covered on this page aren’t the only fleet management GPS providers in the US. Trimble, Verizon, Quartix and many more deserve credit for their excellent fleet management products. If you’re already a customer, congratulations. You’re probably saving tons of money on fuel and impressing customers with your speedy service. If not, don’t worry - there’s never been a better time to start.