Managing a fleet of trucks, or even a handful, is challenging. It’s difficult to see all the moving pieces and get a handle on the big picture. One way to increase your visibility is with real-time GPS tracking.
If you’re still depending on manual processes for scheduling and dispatching, it’s time to dump the clipboards, whiteboards, phone calls and little yellow sticky notes. Replace the clutter and chaos with the insights and efficiency gained through this versatile digital tracking tool.
GPS Tracking 101
Before we dive into the five ways GPS tracking of your trucks in real-time can give you more visibility, let’s get a basic understanding of how GPS technology works.
GPS stands for Global Positioning System. A network of 24 satellites orbiting Earth are linked with special devices on the ground. They work together to produce three kinds of data: navigational, positioning and timing.
As the satellites continually transmit their location and status, a Master Control Station monitors them, checking for accuracy and making corrections if anything is in error. A GPS device here at “ground” level receives the signals, triangulates the data and pinpoints a location. It’s a little more complicated than that, but you get the idea.
Although GPS was originally created in the 1960s for military use, nowadays its use is widespread. First responders rely on GPS tracking every day to do their jobs. For search and rescue teams, it’s a vital technology. And millions of people punch in an address where they once used a map to get to an unknown place.
Real-time GPS Tracking for the Trucking Industry
It didn’t take long for fleet managers and dispatchers to see the potential of using GPS technology to oversee their daily operations and keep tabs on their vehicles.
In the early days of real-time GPS tracking, devices had to be installed into the vehicles. Fleet owners could either shuck out a lot of money for each truck to have its own GPS device or they could save costs (but increase hassle) by switching the tracking devices between trucks.
Today, many GPS tracking service providers use mobile devices like smartphones and tablets instead of installed telemetrics. Whether you choose to go with a system that uses installed or mobile devices, tracking your trucks in real-time will open your eyes to a new way of managing a crucial part of your business.
Truck tracking not only tells you the location of your trucks but can give you other valuable data points. Miles traveled, fuel usage, speed, idle times, bad driving patterns such as hard cornering and abrupt acceleration--all can be revealed through tracking.
Five Ways Real-Time GPS Tracking Improves Visibility for Dispatchers
1. Know the location of all of your trucks in real-time
Without the benefit of real-time GPS tracking, dispatchers can only estimate where their trucks are. Phone calls and texts are not always answered immediately, and too often dispatchers aren’t aware of road conditions which will impact drive times.
With a truck tracking system in place, dispatchers can know the precise location of all their trucks in real-time. They’ll also be able to reroute drivers if conditions change--whether it’s from a customer’s order, weather, problems with other trucks in the fleet, or congestion on the road.
Being able to reroute drivers on the fly leads to increased efficiency by reducing unnecessary idling and delayed deliveries. It also results in much better customer service. Imagine being able to pick up the phone when a customer calls and having the accurate info they want right at your fingertips.
2. See how your drivers are really driving
Some fleet owners and others who regularly depend on trucks to conduct their business may worry that their drivers will be offended by using real-time GPS truck tracking--that playing Big Brother will hurt the professional relationship.
Actually, those worries rarely become realities. Even when they do, they can be overcome by thoughtful, proactive communication. Most importantly, the benefits of having the data that GPS systems collect far outweigh a little grumbling from the ranks.
GPS truck tracking can let dispatchers know when drivers are speeding, braking too hard, accelerating too quickly and hard cornering. Curbing these undesirable driving practices can mean reduced fuel costs, decreased wear and tear on vehicles and lowered risk of accidents. It could even have a positive effect on insurance rates.
Geo-fencing, or virtual boundaries, can let you know when a truck enters and exits certain areas. And those unapproved coffee breaks and side trips that you suspect are happening but don’t have the proof? With truck tracking, you do.
3. Get a jump on planning a schedule
Anyone who’s ever had to coordinate the pick ups, deliveries and routes of all the trucks required for a construction project, knows it can be time-consuming and exasperating. The headaches multiply when you’ve got more than one project going on at the same time.
To most dispatchers, the idea of planning in advance seems too good to be true. However, it is possible with a real-time truck tracking system in place. Dispatchers can look ahead and stagger arrivals which increases efficiency and reduces wait times. They can be proactive or quickly react to weather conditions that may affect routes.
With the right data collected, identifying the most efficient, cost-effective routes is simplified. Maybe there’s a route drivers typically take, but it’s full of turns or often is jammed with heavy traffic. Armed with real-time and historical information, dispatchers can determine alternative routes that avoid those pitfalls.
And here’s a little perk for dispatchers if the real-time GPS tracking solution they use has a mobile app feature. Instead of staying late or reporting for work on a Saturday, you can plan, monitor and reroute from wherever you happen to be--whether that’s from the backyard deck or your kid’s game. You can take the visibility with you.
4. Keep an eye out for misuse of vehicles or theft
Many GPS tracking solutions let you know if a truck has left the yard during off hours, or if it makes an extra unauthorized trip during the day. In either case, whether the truck is being driven by your driver or flat-out taken by someone else, you’ll want to know.
Unauthorized use increases the risk of accidents and wear and tear on the vehicle. In addition, the breakdown in trust is damaging to work relationships. Because GPS tracking is a fair and professional way of monitoring drivers, it can prevent both the costly misuse of vehicles and the uncomfortable situation of having to question a driver’s whereabouts.
5. View the big picture with historical data
Real-time GPS tracking becomes historical data which can give dispatchers valuable insights. Many truck tracking solutions are just one part of robust platforms with useful reporting features. You decide what data you want to analyze and the software pulls it together so you can easily identify trends, make policy changes, create trainings to address safety issues and the list goes on.
Historical data can also provide the proof you may need if you have a dispute with a driver, customer, insurance provider or regulatory agency.
TRUX Customers Reap the Benefits of Increased Visibility and More
Real-time GPS tracking is only one of many features of the TRUX all-in-one trucking logistics platform for dump trucks. Like most real-time GPS tracking systems, the solution increases visibility for dispatchers by showing the location of trucks as they move along their routes or are parked in the yard. Dispatchers will also know if a driver is stopping for a break or making a side trip.
Planning a few days or even a week ahead is possible with truck tracking. TRUX has an easy-to-use dashboard and drag and drop technology to make creating a schedule, reordering and handling change orders a breeze. Dispatchers can use historical data to optimize routes for increased efficiency and reduced fuel costs.
Because GPS tracking with TRUX is done through mobile devices that stay with the drivers (who punch in and out digitally each shift), it offers flexibility that other systems can’t. And although you won’t immediately know if one of your assets is stolen, you can still monitor misuse of your trucks throughout the day.
Finally, the data that the GPS tracking system collects in real-time turns into historical data that you can use to make adjustments to your operations and to resolve disputes more quickly with the proof to back you up.
In addition to all the benefits GPS truck tracking offers, TRUX customers appreciate white-glove onboarding service, digital ticketing, automated and consolidated invoicing and access to the nation’s largest network of technology-enabled dump trucks.
If you’d like to learn more about how real-time GPS tracking can drive up your visibility, give us a call or schedule a demo today. Our team of industry experts love talking trucking logistics and efficiencies.
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