Business fleets use fleet monitoring systems to track, dispatch, manage, and maintain fleets of all sizes. Very large national fleets, such as FedEx and UPS, have been using advanced fleet monitoring for decades. But these powerful tools have increasingly been adopted by mid-sized and smaller fleets, internationally, and in the U.S. nationally and regionally. As the hardware, software, and network technology have improved, prices have come down, simplicity has increased, and overall risk of launching a fleet monitoring program has decreased.
Certain field service fleet industry segments have led the way in adopting fleet monitoring. Shipping and logistics fleets led adoption, but as the fleet tracking and monitoring capabilities became more advanced, the tools made sense for a wider array of industries, such as Oil and Gas, Agriculture and Construction. Currently, small field services fleets, such as Plumbing/HVAC, Landscapers, Pest Control and Inspection, and Local Shipping fleets have begun using GPS and cellular enabled fleet monitoring extensively.
These small and mid-sized fleets have been attracted to the technology by its key benefits, including knowing the location of every truck, trailer and equipment asset, monitoring speed and status, and monitoring diagnostics and fuel level.
Fleet monitoring systems include a combination of 1) connected devices (also known as trackers) installed into trucks, trailers, and equipment, 2) a platform that centralizes the data collected from the connected devices, and 3) an application or dashboard to view the data, often on an embedded Google map. These systems are sometimes interchangeably called “telematics.”
The most common technology used in fleet monitoring is GPS, or Global Positioning System. But that’s only part of it. Additionally, most GPS monitoring devices use a combination of satellite-based GPS systems to track location, along with a cellular network to communicate that information to the platform.
In addition to the two basic communication technologies, many fleet monitoring devices also have on-board processing capabilities, security layers, and embedded device logic such as power management and communications protocol management. Many GPS monitoring devices come equipped with an on-board accelerometer, to detect motion. Optionally, connected devices may also offer additional communication technologies, such as Bluetooth or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), to support added features.
Some fleets rely on apps shared with drivers to manage their workflow. While this addresses some of the workforce management needs of fleet managers, its general application is limited. Dispatch apps typically are hand-held in smart phones, and thus, are dependent on drivers to implement them. Drivers may turn off or misplace their phones, or not install the apps, or go into “airplane mode” at the wrong time.
Additionally, most advanced fleet monitoring gathers valuable vehicle data, such as speed, idling status, fuel level and diagnostics. Finally, an installed in-vehicle fleet monitoring device can act as an “independent third-party” signal to confirm on-time arrival, hours of service, site exit/entry and other important workforce operating requirements.
In particular, advanced security has recently become an added differentiator among fleet monitoring capabilities.
Advanced fleet monitoring systems are able to use GPS and cellular to locate an asset within 1.5 meters. This can vary based on network performance, and accuracy typically can be reduced in rural environments, and in covered areas, such as parking garages. Typically, fleet monitoring devices using 4G LTE are able to penetrate into parking garages with better accuracy than 3G devices.
Additionally, fleet management systems are able to detect movement using an accelerometer, as well as engine diagnostics. They are able to provide real-time and reported vehicle speed, mileage, and idling, and breadcrumb pins every 10 seconds during a trip. Each breadcrumb shows a vehicle’s speed, direction of travel, and timestamp.
Fleet managers and owner/operators of small fleets evaluate competitive providers on both price and features. Some things to consider are:
Buyers should certainly review the features and prices of the major fleet monitoring systems providers, including Verizon Connect, Geotab, Samsara, and more. A comparative table of major fleet monitoring systems is provided here.
Additionally, here are some key risks you may not have considered.
In addition to the general features and benefits that most fleet managers use, there are specific use cases for fleet monitoring, including IFTA tax reporting, and meeting requirements set by local Controlled Goods Transportation Laws.
Your fleet may also deploy a workforce management solution. In that case, fleet managers may desire to export telematics data from fleet monitoring into these systems, using webhooks and APIs. Momentum IoT provides the industry’s most advanced and well-documented API for developers.
Momentum IoT has won several industry awards and analyst accolades: