Vehicle fleets are a core component of every industry. Whether you are a transportation company, a manufacturing or even a service-based company, vehicle fleets play a crucial role in day-to-day operations.
However, tracking fleet vehicles can be challenging, considering the numerous business-specific variables you must consider. The value or nature of consignments you are shipping, the type of fleet you use (market, dedicated), the route you take, network, and geographical complications are some parameters every business needs to consider.
Well, the first thought that comes to mind with respect to tracking vehicles is GPS, right? But did you know that only 40% of commercial trucks in India have GPS integrations? Depending upon whether these are market fleets or dedicated fleets, extracting this tracking data can be a herculean task!
So, how do you track fleet vehicles?
SIM-based tracking, GPS-based tracking (wired/portable), and mobile app-based tracking are some viable options for you to track fleet vehicles.
In this blog, we delve into the nitty-gritty of fleet vehicle tracking, exploring the various solutions available and figuring out the ideal tracking solution for different use cases. But before that, let’s first understand what a vehicle fleet is.
What is a Fleet Vehicle?
A fleet vehicle refers to any motorized vehicle owned and used by a business, organization, or government agency and is primarily used for transporting either goods or people. This could include delivery trucks, service vehicles, or even a company's sales cars.
Having said that, efficient fleet vehicle management is crucial for operational success, cost-effectiveness, and timely delivery.
Exploring Different Fleet Vehicle Tracking Solutions
Visibility is the most crucial cog in transportation logistics. Depending upon the aforementioned variables and parameters, here are the best vehicle fleet tracking solutions that would be ideal for your business.
SIM-Based Vehicle Tracking
Tracking vehicles via SIM cards requires only a basic cell phone and a cellular network. This technology leverages the existing cellular infrastructure to triangulate real-time location updates every 15 minutes and with an accuracy of 100-150 m. All you need is the driver’s consent, post which we can procure the data directly from the respective service providers.
Capture driver’s whereabouts in real-time and keep checks on disruptions across logistics
Track fleet vehicle idling or overuse issues on a unified dashboard
Record delivery time to keep tabs on SLA breaches and levy appropriate penalties when required
Ideal for tracking long-haul movements like inter-state transportation
Works best when using market fleet vehicles for shipping needs.
Zero-dependency on Internet availability for real-time tracking
Low-cost tracking solution with zero hardware cost
Tracking accuracy is comparatively low (up to 100-150m)
Tracking stops when the driver switches off their cell phone
Errors in cell tower codes at ground level can cause data issues, especially when using SIM-based tracking that triangulates locations based on nearby towers. This happens if a tower has the same code as one far away, resulting in sudden location jumps.
A basic backend logic can be used to analyze vehicle speed and negate unrealistically distant pings to fix this.
GPS Tracking Software
Three different forms of GPS trackers can be used to track fleet vehicles.
In-Built GPS Trackers
A huge chunk of commercial vehicles come with built-in GPS that the vehicle owner can use to track vehicle whereabouts. This tracking solution leverages data captured by GPS satellites and provides real-time visibility accurate up to 20 meters in urban areas and up to 50 meters in rural areas with low reception.
However, for shippers who arrange vehicles from vendors, it is very difficult to access this tracking data, considering a major chunk of their vehicles could belong to market fleets.
Wired GPS Integration
Wired GPS is a highly feasible and accurate means of tracking vehicle fleets. They are easily integrated with the shipper’s Transportation Management System/Fleet Management System, and data points are captured as soon as the ignition is on.
Provides real-time visibility with heightened accuracy
Captures ignition data that helps identify vehicle idling issues
Provides accurate time stamps to and vehicle usage data like overspending, halts, ignition data, and more
Cost-effective as it entails zero hardware cost
Zero dependencies on drivers for capturing tracking data
Not an ideal solution for market fleet vehicles that are used only for a short period of time
Portable GPS Devices
Portable GPS Installation (Expensive) uses internal SIM cards for network connectivity and tracks location data from GPS satellites
Real-time accuracy of under 20m in urban areas to under 50m in rural areas
Ready-to-use portable devices that are easy to carry around
Seamless integration with ERM platforms for channeling data captured from GPS devices
Historic Pings could cause minor delays in curating tracking data. This mostly occurs when the vehicle passes through a no-network reception zone and cannot push the data forward. So, it collects the location data from the GPS satellite and stores it within the device until network reception is re-established.
Not ideal for market fleet vehicles
Mobile-Based Vehicle Tracking Solution
Mobile-based solutions use apps that leverage the GPS capabilities of smartphones to track vehicles. While convenient, this solution may suffer from accuracy issues due to potential signal loss, especially in areas with weak network coverage. Mobile-based tracking also poses challenges in terms of battery life and the need for employees to have a smartphone with them at all times.
No additional hardware expenses for integration
Heightened accuracy of up to 10m
Easy-to-use interface (can be used by non-techies as well)
App-device compatibility is the biggest challenge for tracking fleet vehicles via mobile applications. (A major chunk of Indian truck drivers do not use smartphones)
Drains mobile battery at a rapid rate
Tracking stops if the device is switched off or shut down in the background
Not sure which method is ideal for you to track fleet vehicles? Compare them at a glance!!
SIM v/s Mobile v/s GPS-Based Vehicle Tracking Software: A Detailed Comparison
Who Wins by Comparison?
Tracking fleet vehicles via each of the three solutions—SIM-Based, GPS-Based, and Mobile-Based—brings its own set of advantages and considerations. SIM-based tracking could be a reliable option for you if you prioritize consistent visibility, cost-effectiveness, ease of use, and seamless integration. GPS-based tracking excels in scenarios where pinpoint accuracy is critical, even if it comes with potentially higher initial costs. Mobile-based tracking, while cost-effective and accurate, may face challenges related to connectivity or device compatibility.
Whether it's the seamless integration and consistency of SIM-based tracking or the precision and ease of use of GPS-based and mobile-based tracking, the choice ultimately hinges on the specific priorities and operational requirements of each enterprise.
So, what’s your inclination?? Need help figuring out what works best for your business? We could be of help!