How Modern Vehicle Tracking Systems Improve Transport Efficiency

17-09-2018 |   |  By Christian Cawley

Simply loading up and driving off with a delivery is thankfully a thing of the past. Even a lone ranger "white van man" knows that time sensitive deliveries need optimized navigation and a close eye on fuel costs.

But this is just the default position for 21st century haulage and fleet vehicles. Modern tracking systems can improve efficiency considerably, from data management and tracking to gathering data on driver performance and style.


What Data Is Collected?

On board computers (usually secreted out of sight to avoid tampering or theft) are designed to monitor a wide range of data. The depth of this telematics data will depend on the requirements of the business, and the capabilities of the software. Typical data collection focuses on vehicle location and tracking, speed, the distance travelled, and mechanical status.

Thanks to developments in data management, however, other information can be recorded. Integration with satellite navigation and GPS, for example, can aid the collection of data that records and analyses traffic.

Data can also be sent. Enhanced driver communications are common, such as text to speech, and improved job organization (live updating of driver schedules), and even in-cab scanning, enabling drivers to scan documents, record signatures, and more.


Types of Tracking System

Such data has historically been recorded locally, but increasingly logistics businesses and departments are using the internet to gather the data for live analysis.

Currently, three types of vehicle tracking are employed:

  • Cellular uses the cellular network, and is simpler to set up than the other options.
  • Wireless is a passive system, without the recurring cost of cellular, but with no live data; instead, most data is downloaded when vehicles return.
  • Satellite is often used for taxi and shipping firms, and other fleets where pinpoint accuracy is required.

While the end result is largely identical, the different solutions come with provider-specific added features. Many provide complete reporting on a single vehicle, group, or an entire fleet, at the push of a button.


Efficiency Advantages of Vehicle Tracking

Ultimately, it doesn't matter which method of vehicle tracking is selected. The aim is improved performance, and as near to maximum efficiency as possible.

The ever changing price of fuel is a big concern for haulage and freight. Being able to eliminate waste from the main outlay is vital until (if ever) fuel prices stabilize.

Similarly, vehicle tracking enables the optimization of navigation. Very specific routes can be selected, and altered slightly as the day progresses, overcoming roadworks, traffic incidents, and bottlenecks.


Lexus Gen V navigation system By Enigma3542002,

For instance, if the delivery is 256 miles by the shortest route, and the records reveal that the vehicle travelled 332, then there's clearly something going on. Perhaps it was the result of following a diversion after an accident; however, the speed and vehicle location tracking will easily be able to establish if this was the case, or if the driver took a detour for a social purpose, or to carry out some delivery moonlighting.

This data can then be shared with other drivers where necessary, ensuring blackspots don't impact the entire operation. Meanwhile, driver performance can also be monitored, as can the style of driving. If braking is too heavy, for example, this can have a cumulative effect on the overall efficiency of a vehicle.

All of this contributes towards reducing delays for delivery, ensuring the customer or partner receives goods in top condition, when promised.

It isn't all about navigation and finding the most cost effective route, however. Vehicle tracking telematics enable the logistics centre to receive alerts for deviations, while logs are automated, updating in real time. Such systems can also detect when vehicles have been stolen.


Don't Fail on Freight

Advanced telematics systems deliver the type of efficiencies many sectors can only dream of. Total monitoring and control of transport units, micromanagement of activity; this is 21st century telematics.

The difference between a company surviving and failing is often the performance of a single department. With the right efficiencies, it shouldn't happen in freight and fleet.


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By Christian Cawley

Christian Cawley is a freelance technology writer, with a background in healthcare and financial services industries. He writes extensively online, and contributes to print periodicals and specials.

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