How is Mobile Technology Transforming Fleet Tracking?

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mobileFleet tracking has proven to be very beneficial to businesses that need to manage their vehicles.

Fleet tracking has enabled businesses to use their fleet efficiently, often able to determine which vehicles and drivers are not that busy to be deployed to customer sites.  For example, a forwarding and courier company could track its fleet and when a customer calls in something for pick up, a dispatcher can easily see who is nearby and whether that driver has his or her hands full already.  The dispatcher can then schedule the pick-up with the driver who is not that busy and will be in the neighborhood for some deliveries.  This way, the company has saved gas and time while also increasing revenues and keeping the customer happy. A win-win-win solution!

Fleet tracking also enables companies to reduce vehicle-related downtime and basically improve their operations.  It has also enable companies to keep close tabs on their drivers’ behaviors, correcting those behaviors that may be considered wasteful or unsafe.  More than that, with fleet tracking, the company can now easily and conveniently gather all the data they need to make difficult decisions about their operations and their fleet, something that they would not get otherwise. And all of these are made possible because of mobile technology.

It started with just being a communications solution.  Companies provided their drivers with cell phones, two-way radios or pagers in order to communicate with them while on the road.  It was a breakthrough in convenience.  Drivers were now just a page, an SMS message or a call away.  But as phones that could only text and call gave way to smartphones that are loaded with features, mobile technology has now contributed more significantly to the fleet tracking and management industry than any other technology.

No more expensive hardware

The very first fleet tracking service providers typically sold tracking services along with hardware.  Back then, in order for fleet tracking systems to work completely, you should first fit every vehicle in your fleet with a GPS device.  Then you have to pay a steep fee for the use of a satellite. No longer is this the situation today!

Smartphones nowadays already have a built in GPS that businesses can use for their fleet tracking initiatives.  This means that when a company buys smartphones for its fleet and its drivers, it is not only getting a way to communicate with personnel and employees on the field, but it is also getting GPS hardware for its vehicles.  What’s more, a good smartphone comes with an accelerometer and other sensors that might prove valuable to fleet tracking.

If your company uses a system wherein your drivers and employees would need a pass key to log into their computers or tools, you can get a smartphone with near-field communication chips in them and just let your drivers tap their smartphones to the vehicle’s tracking system.  Aside from that, there are a lot of technologies out there that are enabled by smartphones.

For example, a barcode reader may be installed on a smartphone to make it easier to scan QR codes and other two-dimensional barcodes to help track cargo and shipment.  You can also outfit a smartphone to accept payments.  Plus, each smartphone is a Wi-Fi hotspot, able to get on the Internet to transmit data.

Back in the early days of fleet tracking, you need to use a satellite to help you determine your vehicle’s location.  But now, pinpointing the location largely rests on ground-level cellular towers and technology.  That means that you no longer have to pay expensive fees for the use of a satellite.

You can also use your smartphone’s connectivity to transmit data from your vehicles to your office in real time, making it easier for your dispatchers to schedule work for your fleet. You do not even have to install an onboard computer now, because smartphones have the computing power of the usual personal computer.

Another way that smartphones and tablets are revolutionizing fleet tracking is the ability to get apps for it.  And there are several apps available out there that can help you understand tracking data and how you could improve the performance of your entire fleet.

And these mobile apps can help you in other ways, thereby extending the functionality of your fleet tracking smartphones.  For example, you can get an app that lists down the gas prices in a certain area.  This way, you can instruct drivers to gas up at these gasoline stations where the prices are cheaper.  Not only that, you can use a smartphone app to find the shortest and fastest routes available in order to save on time and fuel while making deliveries or going for pickups.

Tough environment

But wait! Be warned that it’s not always a smooth ride.  One of the concerns that most people have about using smartphones for fleet tracking is that these smartphones might prove delicate for the road.  Not a problem, because as smartphones become cheaper they also become stronger.  There is a range of durable Android devices available in the market, including Samsung Galaxy S4 Active, Rugby Pro, Sony Xperia Go, Android Rhino and NEC Terrain.  And for iOS devices, there is always the LifeProof case for you.

But even if you have to buy specialized and ruggedized mobile devices, you would be surprised to learn that these also run on Android operating systems and other mobile OSes.  For instance, mobile device manufacturer Zonar has the 2020 remote terminal that runs on Android.

Smartphones are revolutionizing the lives of its many users – why should it stop there and not become a much valued asset for your business and your fleet?  As you can see, you could lump together all the equipment you need in a smartphone: GPS, barcode scanners, Internet connectivity, data logger, data analyzer, communications tool and data transmitter.  You no longer have to spend on specialized hardware, so it pretty much cuts down costs as it also cuts down on complexity.

And lastly, a smartphone is cloud ready.  You could easily use a smartphone to get on the cloud.  In the future, most of the data will be stored on the cloud, and most of the data processing and analysis will be done on the cloud also.  So it helps to have a device that allows you to interface quickly and seamlessly with the cloud.

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Robert Prime launched telematics.com in early 2013 and has over 10 years experience in the financial sector. He specialises in business startups and online marketing with a passion for new technology.