A Comprehensive Guide to Fleet Tracking Systems
It should come as no surprise that the fleet management industry is on the rise. With all the benefits that these systems give to fleet managers and businesses, forward-thinking companies are scrambling to get into the action. In fact, ABI Research reports that fleet management systems would represent a $27.61 billion industry globally. The industry earned $9.08 billion in 2013. ABI Research also identifies several companies that have reached, 100,000, 200,000, and 300,000 customers. The report also shows that fleet management systems would not be confined to delivery and trucking companies.
ABI also states that the growth of the global fleet management industry would hinge on truck manufacturers putting these systems in their trucks, the rise of specialized services, the increased demand for fleet tracking even in companies outside of delivery and trucking, and the increasing familiarity of business owners to the fleet management systems and their benefits.
ABI also said that the industry would branch out into other markets as well, with Russia, Latin America and Asia showing strong promise.
Now, let us take a look at the different markets, starting with North America.
According to data collated by FleetLogik LLC, the number of fleet management systems using GPS is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of more than 12%, and there were 2.1 million units installed in the last quarter of 2010, while there would be an estimated 3.8 million units by 2015. That is in North America. Latin America expects a much higher annual growth at close to 21%, increasing from 0.9 million in 2012 to an expected 2.3 million in 2015.
That estimated growth rate actually shot up to 15.9%, according to Berg Insight. By 2016, it is expected that fleet management systems would be found in around 5.9 million commercial vehicles.
Meanwhile, Berg Insight reports that they expect to see consolidation in the European fleet tracking market, while it is still a growing industry that would last for years. Berg Insight forecasts the industry to grow at a compound annual growth rate of around 18%, growing from 2.5 million units at the end of 2011 to an estimated of around 5.7 million units in 2016.
Furthermore, another Berg Insight report shows that fleet management systems that are found in commercial vehicle fleets in Eastern Europe and Russia totaled 2.2 million at the end of 2012. They expect the market to expand at a compound annual growth rate of a whopping 23%, leading to forecasts of around 6.1 million units by the year 2017. The Russian and Eastern European markets enjoy a diverse set of players from Belarus, Turkey, and other countries.
So it is apparent that no matter where you look, the fleet management industry is getting bigger and bigger. And we should expect it to expand more as newer technologies come out and as the demand from companies get stronger.
The World’s Top Players / Providers of Fleet Tracking systems
1.1 Teletrac Navman
Teletrac Navman gives you the opportunity to easily manage your fleet by grouping your drivers and vehicles.
You can track the exact location of your vehicles, while also getting access to historical route information. The systems also allows you to see the location of multiple vehicles and compare these locations with live traffic feeds. This way, you can know for sure if a driver would be late or not, and you can give tips to your drivers on how to avoid roads that may be congested. On top of that, you can also track mileage, maintenance, and fuel usage.
The reports you get are simply excellent. But if you need to customize the reports you get, that is possible as well. You can also generate the reports with just a click of a mouse and you get all the data you need right there. For example, if you need to know idle times, you can just generate a report detailing your vehicle’s idle times ready at a moment’s notice.
Teletrac offers phone and email assistance, but they do not provide live chat support. It is also a little disappointing that the company Web site does not offer any FAQs or articles to help customers.
Geotab makes its own hardware, but the software works well with any third-party device. Even so, the hardware seems to be much better than other devices in the market because it combines accelerometer technology with GPS. That is how it is able to give you a more accurate feedback when it comes to hard braking at low speeds, distracted drivers, and other metrics. The hardware takes three minutes to install and you can do this just by plugging it into the truck’s data port. You can also add more sensors into the device to extend the functionalities that you can get from it.
Telogis gives you fleet tracking software with a robust set of features and management tools. Telogis allows you to create custom reports and notifications and it also comes with mobile capabilities.
Telogis can help you track your vehicle’s mileage, idling time, fuel consumption, engine fault codes and other metrics. You can get location data and updates in real-time, as well as get historical route information for each vehicle. You can also keep track of driving behavior because the systems tells you about bad driving behaviors as soon as it happens. You can immediately correct harsh braking and fast swerving, and minimize traffic violations and unauthorized stops.
The systems can also give you full reports based on drivers, vehicles and the fleet. You can have reports on the entire fleet, on a team of trucks or just on specific vehicles. Reports also include maintenance, fuel consumption, routes, and others. And if you want to customize the report, you can do so.
One of the areas where the company falters is in customer support. The company’s Web site does not have that many resources that clients can refer to if they need assistance. As such, if you need help, you would need to rely on live chat, e-mail, or telephone. It would be better if the company could come up with a company blog, FAQ or testimonials to help customers.
1.4 Verizon Networkfleet
Verizon Networkfleet gives you real-time updates on your vehicles’ locations. You can track your drivers and your vehicles in order to make sure that good driving behavior is observed and that they stay on their routes. You can also get detailed reports on your vehicles and their drivers, as well as alert when a driver exhibits a bad-driving behavior.
Using GPS, the systems gives you your vehicles’ current locations and the stops that were made. It also helps you save on fuel costs as well as aids you track idle times, miles per gallon, and fuel consumption. You can also benefit by getting engine diagnostic error codes alerts, by being on top of preventive maintenance schedules, and by receiving recall notices.
But what really sets Networkfleet apart from the competition is the roadside assistance wherein you can rely on Verizon to help out any of your vehicles that run into problems while on the road. The roadside assistance service comes free with the fleet management package.
Moreover, you have administrative options as well. You can have multiple users, and be able to manage their access levels so that they could obtain the data they need without gaining access to other parts of the fleet management systems. You also have access to several types of reports and you can export these reports into an Excel sheet or a PDF file. You can also have these reports sent via e-mail.
If you do encounter a problem with Verizon Networkfleet, you may be turned off by the fact that customer service might be a little slow and unresponsive.
Navotar is built specifically for car rental companies.
Navotar’s pricing starts at $50 per month per user, and if you want to try their service out, you can avail of a free trial. Navotar helps you with mileage tracking, accident tracking, fuel management, inspection and inventory management, vehicle location and vehicle information, and maintenance tracking and scheduling.
But one thing that differentiates Navotar from others is the license verification tool that allows you to test the validity of the driver’s license without the customer knowing that you are doing it. Navotar is the only car rental company software that offers this functionality in real-time.
The company claims that their product is easy to install and use, so there is no need for extensive training. But if you need help, they have a newsletter where you can get updates, and you can get help online by completing their form. You can also e-mail or call for technical support.
Navotar is relatively new and their focus on car rental companies could be a plus or a minus to their service, depending on your business. There have been reports that while the systems is easy to use, it is not free from glitches just yet. Customer service might be a little slow in replying, with reports of response time ranging from two to four days.
Fleetistics is one of the best fleet management systems that you could find in the market today. It gives you all the features and functionality that you have come to expect out of a fleet management service. You get real-time location information, detailed trip histories and high resolution GPS vehicle tracking that is updated by the second. It also logs the last 30 seconds leading to an accident, which you can use to determine who is at fault.
You can also track drivers to ensure that bad driving behaviors are kept to a minimum. The systems uses near field communication (NFC) technology to identify the drivers operating your vehicle. This is done using an NFC tag on the key fob of the vehicle. This tool is an add-on feature that could be perfect for those fleets that do not assign drivers to the vehicles beforehand.
You will also benefit from the dispatching options that come with the software, and get alerts on vehicle and driver activity. These alerts are sent to your mobile phone, via text message or as a pop-up on your desktop computer.
In short, Fleetistics gives you all the functionalities that you are looking for in a fleet management systems and it offers some great additional features that can tremendously make your life easier.
Fleetmatics gives you the tools to track and monitor your fleet easily and quickly. You get real-time location information on your vehicles, as well as the routes and stops made. You can also keep track of several vehicle information, such as fuel consumption and mileage. You can also check on your drivers to see if they are observing good driving behavior, their speeds and driving habits. That includes idle times and the number of minutes spent at every stop.
Fleetmatics offers you several reports that you can use to gain insights on your fleet. It also allows you to get alerts for any undesirable driving behaviors. These alerts are sent via SMS message or email.
However, it has some limitations. One of the downsides of using Fleetmatics is that it does not report on or monitor engine error codes. Another drawback is that you cannot create custom reports.
Your drivers get their own key fobs, so authorized personnel will be able to know which driver is operating which vehicle.
Furthermore, Fleetmatics has excellent articles and support resources on their Web site, which includes a blog, testimonials, FAQs and videos. You can also take advantage of support specialists via telephone, live chat or email.
NexTraq gives you the tools to monitor your drivers and vehicles. They have several options for fleet tracking and you can get real-time location data, and maintenance and fuel management information. You can also monitor driver behavior.
When a driver exhibits bad driving behavior, such as over-speeding or unsafe acceleration, you can be notified immediately. There are more than 30 types of driving behaviors and alerts that you can get.
It does not matter how small or how big your fleet is, NexTraq can help you. You can know where your fleet is going any time you want, and see all the stops that they made. You can track route mileage, manage fuel consumption and even get on top of maintenance needs for each vehicle.
It does not, however, keep track of engine fault codes.
You would love the dispatching feature that they have. You can set up new routes and jobs, and send them to your drivers. You can dispatch the closest driver or vehicle to a customer or a new stop. And your drivers will never get lost because they can get detailed directions on their dashboards to make sure they know where to go.
The company also has several online resources to help customers use their service. If you need further help, you can talk to a service representative via live chat, email or telephone.
1.9 US Fleet Tracking
US Fleet Tracking sells everything, from GPS tracking devices to accessories and even services such as their Live GPS Tracking.
You can opt between 10-second updates, five-second updates or second by second updates. Monthly rates for these services range from $30 to around $130. The standard 10-second live GPS Tracking service allows you to get tracking information without needing to sign any contracts. Just pay for every month that you use the service. You get 90 days of historical playback, email alerts, SMS alerts and e-mail reports. You can check your vehicle locations using any browser on a computer with an Internet connection.
Depending on the tracking device you get, you can track and monitor fuel efficiency, fuel usage, mileage and other vehicle data. You can also integrate US Fleet Tracking’s devices with Garmin dezl and nuvi series devices.
As far as customer support goes, you can get several white papers, read client testimonials, or pore over their FAQs, product manuals and even get video training and how to videos. This ensures that you can get the information you need on how to use their products without even talking to a live person. But if you need to, you can call or chat with their technical support.
Are you leaving your current telematics provider or switching to a new one? How to do it right and is it worth it?
There are a lot of reasons why one would want to leave their current fleet telematics provider. It could be that you have found a better service provider with more features and functionalities. Or maybe you want functionalities that your current provider cannot provide you.
Fleet telematics, software and tracking devices all fall under a category of technology that is new and dynamic. It is very reasonable to think that something better, much improved or altogether new is just around the corner. This might be a driving force to switching to a new telematics provider or leaving your current one.
If your business needs something that your current service provider cannot give you, then it would be a good idea to leave. But what should you know and do first before you do so?
- First, check out the contract that you have signed with your service provider. Are you out of the lock in period? When you sign up for a lease with your fleet management service provider, you are agreeing to be locked down for a certain number of months or years. That means that you cannot terminate their service unless the contract period lapses, or you will have to pay a pre-termination fee and even reimburse the service provider for the amount of the equipment that they have installed for your systems. If the contract period has lapsed, then you generally are free from liabilities and pre-termination charges.
- If you’ve opted for renewable contracts, then be sure to communicate with your current service provider that you are no longer interested in continuing with them. In general, it is advised that you do not enter into a long-term contract with any telematics service provider. As we have indicated above, fleet telematics technology is always changing. Having a long-term contract would mean that you would be stuck with obsolete equipment that would not give you all the latest functionalities that newer devices can offer. Contracts that are renewed automatically are no better.
- Then check out who owns the data. This is especially true if you do not store your location and telematics data on site. Ideally, you should be retaining ownership of all the data and information that the fleet management systems gathers. If the data is stored with the service provider, you should know how this is going to be handled after you have left.
- Be sure to export, back up and download your data. When you terminate the services of your current telematics service provider, it is always better to have a digital and hard copy of all the data, reports and other information, no matter who owns the data. This way, you can continue to have historical information on your fleet even when you have a new service provider. That means that your current efforts will not be all for nothing.
- Lastly, check who owns the tracking devices and the software. If you are leasing your equipment, then the devices should be de-installed from your vehicles and returned to your service provider. But there are “leasing to own” set ups being offered by some providers. In this case, you might want to retain the devices and just replace them when the budget allows or sell them.
Fleet tracking market size and forecast. What are the total number of fleets in the US and other major markets?
Ever wonder just how big the fleet management and fleet tracking systems market is? To say that it is big would be an understatement. The industry includes several solutions, applications and devices.
One of the many reasons why fleet management and fleet tracking systems are such a success is because of the huge number of commercial fleets. In the United States, Latin America and the rest of North America, you have millions upon millions of vehicles being used by companies for their own operations.
In North America, there are close to 13 million vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 3 to 8, or those weighing from 10,001 pounds to above 33,000 pounds. These vehicles include anything from a Ford F-350, Hummer H1, to GMC Topkick Trucks, to tractor trailer trucks. In Latin America, the estimated number of commercial vehicles on the road is around 20 million, around 5.5 million of these are heavy trucks, while the remaining are considered light commercial vehicles.
What’s more, experts and industry watchers are saying that the fleet management market in North America and Latin America are on the rise for the next few years. Berg Insight estimates the compound annual growth rate for the North American market will be 12.6%, which would translate to about 3.8 million units fitted with fleet telematics systems by 2015. That means that fleet management systems will be in close to 30% of all non-privately owned vehicles in the region. Meanwhile in Latin America, the compounded annual growth rate is currently pegged at 20.6%, or reaching 2.3 million units in 2015. That would mean a market penetration rate of around 11.6%.
In Europe, there are 35.5 million commercial vehicles that are in use in 2008. More than 6 million medium and heavy trucks accounted for more than three quarters of all inland transports, which all in all is an industry that is worth 250 million euros. Berg Insight reports that they think that the European fleet management market is now in a growth period, and that it will keep growing for the coming years. Berg Insight estimates the number of fleet management systems and fleet tracking systems in use in Europe by the end of 2011 was around 2.5 million, and that is set to grow at a compound annual growth rate of around 18% to reach more than 5.7 million in 2016. Total penetration rate therefore in 2016 will be around 20%.
Looking at the Eastern Europe, CIS and Russian markets, the total number of heavy and medium commercial vehicles in the region – including around 14 million light commercial vehicles that are part of commercial fleets – is sustaining a growth period for the fleet management industry that equals to a compound annual growth rate of around 15.7%. In fact, Berg Insight estimates that around 2.9 million heavy and light commercial vehicles were fitted with fleet management systems by the end of 2013. They expect it to grow to close to 6 million by 2018. The Russian market in particular will double its fleet management installed based to 2.6 million in five years’ time.
Meanwhile, there were 17.9 million trucks in China in 2011. This helps fleet management systems enjoy a steep growth in the coming years, to the tune of a compound annual growth rate of close to 23% from 2.1 million units at the end of 2014 to close to 6 million by 2019. Penetration rate is pegged at close to 20% by 2019.
Industries that could benefit from fleet telematics
Fleet telematics is really coming into its own and has proven its worth to a variety of companies that have their own fleet of vehicles. Fleet managers certainly can gain a lot from having a fleet management systems to rely on. It seems that every company with a fleet of vehicles can benefit. But what are the industries that stand to benefit from fleet telematics the most?
Service and Manufacturing Industries
Those in the service industry could obviously benefit from fleet telematics. Fleets belonging to any company that is not involved with manufacturing, but is serving a customer would be able to gain from the reduced fuel costs coming from changing bad driver behaviors, such as over speeding to idling too much. Or they would be able to maintain safer vehicles and ensure the best service to customers. Maintaining your fleet is typically very costly but cutting corners could mean that your vehicles would break down while on the road. For passenger-centric business, such as buses and taxis, that could mean lost revenues and for freight and forwarding companies that could mean delayed shipments and missed deliveries.
In any case, all of these would result in unhappy customers. With fleet management systems in place, you could easily know when your vehicles would need maintenance. And if your operations involve dispatching vehicles to different customer sites, then fleet telematics can help in that area as well. Fleet telematics can tell you where all your vehicles are and you are able to dispatch the nearest available vehicle to your customers.
For those who have technicians in the field, fleet telematics could also help in making sure that you bill and invoice your customers accurately. You get complete information on where your technicians are, and how much time they’ve spent at a client’s site. Should there be any questions, then you could easily justify your billing by showing the client your telematics data.
Those in the construction business will also benefit from fleet telematics by being able to track the location and usage of heavy equipment. You can dispatch the right equipment to the right construction site because you know where everything is. You can even have an inventory of what equipment is being used and what is not, and then dispatching the unused equipment to job sites where they can be utilized. Moreover, you will know when equipment are used without authorization, and even monitor them while they are in unsecured locations. And of course, you can improve your preventive maintenance on these heavy equipment as well as improve the accuracy of your billing when you have fleet tracking systems in place.
Fleet tracking systems also benefit insurance companies. It allows you to track your mobile workforce anytime, anywhere. This helps you be assured that appointments with customers are being met. In fact, choosing the right fleet management service provider, you can do this on a national, local or regional basis. You can dispatch the nearest claims office or agent to your customers when they are needed. You can even integrate weather, disaster and location based information to help your agents assess situations better.
Other industries that can benefit from fleet telematics include pharmaceutical companies, tree service companies, telecom and cable companies.
How to choose the best fleet tracking provider for your business
Because of the sheer size of the fleet tracking market and the number of companies that are competing for your business, it is no surprise that many fleet managers and business owners are finding it difficult to narrow down and then ultimately select the best vehicle provider for their business. It does not help that every company in the space is claiming to be the best there is. So how do you choose?
- Take a look at the features they offer. A good way to whittle down the number of potential candidates is to see what features and functionality each one offers. If a tracking provider does not have a feature that you want, then cross it off the list. You do not need a lot of the features that most companies give their customers, but it would be nice to have just in case you want to scale out your business at a later time.
- Sit and quantify the benefits. Now that you have narrowed down your list to companies that would be able to deliver everything you need for your fleet management efforts, examine each of the features and benefits to see if it has quantifiable returns on investment for your business. This would help you realize just how much savings or revenue you could get from each provider, and not be lost in a sea of useless features.
- Assess the reliability of the providers. You would need to research on the reliability of each provider. For instance, if they offer software as a service (SaaS) to help you make sense of the location data and vehicle data you get from the systems, then you must know if their servers have suffered from frequent outages in the past. Are their tracking devices any good, or have they been known to easily break down? Can you call their customer service representatives and get the answers you need right away?
The last one is very important because no matter how high-end and top-of-the-line your fleet tracking devices and software are, you are bound to have some issues with them over time. Try calling the providers’ technical support hotline at different times of the day to see how fast they pick up the phone.
- Do insist on warranty. Check out the warranties that the provider gives you. Just to be on the safe side, assume that there will be something going wrong with your systems and insist on having the tracking units covered by a warranty for the entire duration of the lease. And be sure that you fully understand what the warranty covers.
- Beware of the hidden costs. One of the best ways to eliminate providers off your list is by specifying a budget that you are willing to pay for the service. But do not just take the monthly service fees as your basis for this. Fleet management systems have a number of potential hidden costs that you should know about. These include installation fees, software license fees, mobile carrier fees, polling fees, callout fees, reinstallation and de-installation fees, software update charges and user licensing fees, among others. If you are not careful, you might end up paying more for fleet telematics with your chosen service with a lower monthly fee than a comparable service with a higher monthly subscription rate.
Aftercare, support and training in using the fleet tracking devices
What happens after you have signed the lease on your fleet tracking devices? Do you hear less and less from your service provider, only to hear from them again come contract renewal time? You might not think much about it now, but after sales support and training are two of the most important areas in working with your service provider.
After sales care and support
Being a new user of fleet telematics in general, or being new to your service provider, it is inevitable that questions would arise. Do you know how to contact anybody from your service provider that could help you? Does the service provider have a Web site that has an FAQ that you could consult? Do they share articles on how to use the systems, or perhaps offer tips on how to get the most out of your fleet management systems?
Some fleet tracking and fleet management service providers even go further and give you a printed welcome kit, or send you an electronic one via e-mail. This welcome kit would have all the information you need to know in order for you to start using the systems, as well as log in credentials such as user name and password if necessary. It will also have the contact information, such as contact persons, e-mail addresses and telephone numbers that you need to know to make sure that you have somebody to answer your questions.
If possible, you may want to opt for a service that gives you a dedicated account manager who would proactively keep in touch with you and other authorized users for the duration of the lease. The account manager would be your point of contact in the company, and would be the best one to ask should you have any questions.
Technical support is also a big consideration when it comes to fleet telematics. Imagine having to struggle with tracking devices that are not tracking properly, or trying to customize the software but getting programming errors and nobody at your service provider is answering the phone. Be sure that technical support is not only available and reachable, but also quick and responsive. They should be able to pinpoint where the problem lies and give you a quick solution.
Nothing is as frustrating as having a systems in place and not knowing how to use it or making the most out of it.
For the most part, new customers of fleet management and fleet tracking systems would have no idea how the devices and the software work. This is why training is very important.
There are some companies that have proactively created training videos and made it available on their respective Web sites. This will surely help you learn more than what you can learn from instruction and users manuals. Some service providers provide in-person training for you and the other employees who would be using the systems.
From learning how a tracking device works, to learning how to generate customized reports, to learning how to use the API, your service provider should be teaching you all these.