GPS Fleet Tracking Explained

GPS Fleet Tracking

Fleet tracking is one of the many responsibilities of a fleet manager. However, it may be the most important as the fleet is likely the most valuable asset of many transportation and logistics companies and also integral to their day to day operations. A GPS tracker itself merely transmits location data. Thus it is important to equip fleets with other IoT-enabled sensor technology that can provide additional insights to the fleet manager.

What is Fleet Tracking?

Fleet tracking is a key component in fleet management. In order to understand what fleet tracking is, who is responsible for it and why it is so important, we need to elaborate on the responsibilities of a fleet manager.

Fleet management

The term fleet management refers to the management of a vehicle fleet (be it planes, ships, trucks, cars or escooters). Regardless of the size of the company and the number of vehicles, a fleet management system offers many advantages. Because active measures are taken to make the fleet more efficient and less expensive. Today, fleet management is largely automated, allowing employees to concentrate on their main tasks and increasing the productivity of logistical processes.

Modern fleet management nowadays works mainly with the support of special GPS transmitters, which are attached directly to the vehicle. With such a GPS system, the dispatcher can track the fleet exactly and coordinate the vehicles and routes better.

Who is responsible for fleet management?

For small companies, their own office typically manages the fleet. Above a certain fleet size, a separate fleet manager is required. For larger fleets, it is also possible to hand over the fleet management to an external service provider. These could be, for example, large car rental or leasing companies.

What are the responsibilities of a fleet manager?

  • Tour and route planning
  • Repair Management
  • Time management of drivers
  • Data evaluation and data archiving
  • Dispatcher and order management
  • GPS tracking of the fleet

How does Fleet Tracking work?

Fleet tracking is a management system that uses GPS to check the activity of goods (vehicles, workers, equipment). The fleet usually consists of such assets as cars and lorries, as well as field workers and various types of equipment, both powered and non-powered (e.g. trailers).

Fleet tracking uses telematics technology to collect data from a vehicle fleet. This data is usually collected in near real-time, making it useful for fleet managers. Based on the data, you can make strategic decisions such as which vehicle to use for the new job? Which crane is nearest? What’s the number of generators on the construction site right now? Has a particular worker returned from the construction site?

For effective fleet tracking, you need fleet management software that intelligently interprets the vast amounts of data coming from the fleet and converts it into user-friendly reporting dashboards.

How does GPS work

People, vehicles or other means of transport, machines as well as objects that are equipped with a GPS receiver can be located around the clock. It is possible to determine their position, direction and speed to the nearest metre. How does it work?

In space, in orbit around the Earth at an altitude of approximately 20 000 kilometres, there are 24 satellites that can be used free of charge. They send out coded radio signals and thus information about their position, time and orbit at the speed of light. The operation of the positioning function can be explained in broad terms as follows:

The GPS receivers can calculate their position and speed from the propagation times of the signals transmitted by at least 4 GPS satellites. Of course, the more satellites a GPS device is in contact with; the more accurately its position and speed can be determined. Nowadays, the system can determine the position of the GPS receiver to an accuracy of fewer than 10 metres.

The GPS receivers compare the timestamps of signals from several satellites and compare the time of their transmission with the time of their reception. Based on the position of individual satellites and the time comparison, distance circles are calculated. The place where the distance circles overlap is also the place where the GPS receiver is currently located.

The received position data is transferred from a GPS receiver to the server. It is then passed on to the fleet tracking system, where the data is stored, and the user receives it in the form of a report or a map with marked locations where individual vehicles are located at that moment.

GPS positioning is based on the recognition of signals detected by the GPS satellites. GPS tracking is, therefore, possible thanks to satellites, control stations that determine and correct satellite orbits and times, and GPS devices that process the information received and transmit it to the user.

GPS and IoT complement one another

A fleet manager needs to track more than just the GPS location of his fleet. This is where many other IoT-enabled sensors come in handy. While GPS provides the location data, IoT-sensors are able to supply real-time data about the fleets’ operations and condition. Thus, an efficient fleet tracking solution needs to incorporate, both IoT and GPS.