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How does vehicle tracking work?

If you are considering protecting your commercial vehicle fleet using vehicle tracking systems, you’re probably wondering how the technology that powers everything works. In this article, we discuss how vehicle tracking works.

Commercial fleet managers use GPS on a daily basis to keep a watchful eye over their vehicle fleets and other critical assets. Using GPS-powered vehicle tracking systems, they can access information that helps them overcome challenges such as compliance, safety, and operational efficiency. But what is vehicle tracking and how does it work?

What is vehicle tracking?

Vehicle tracking makes use of GPS, and we’re going to use the term “vehicle tracking” as a cover-all for it. GPS involves a network of satellites that orbit the Earth and communicate with GPS-enabled vehicle tracking devices that can help determine an object or a person’s location.

Initially developed in the 1960s for military applications, GPS technology eventually became available for public use in 1983, and advances and use cases have increased over the last four decades. Today, GPS has a range of uses, from military applications across the globe to consumer applications that enable us to find our lost electronics and figure out which routes to take on car journeys.

How does vehicle tracking work?

GPS-powered vehicle tracking devices send special satellite signals that are processed by a receiver. These GPS receivers track the exact location of the GPS device as well as work out their time and the velocity they are travelling. These positions can also be computed and represented in three-dimensional views using four types of GPS satellite signals.

Vehicle tracking systems offer benefits far beyond simply being able to track a vehicle’s location, though. Often hardwired into a vehicle’s engine bay or plugged into the onboard diagnostics (OBD) port, they can give fleet managers a deep insight into all kinds of metrics, from routes taken to driving habits and fuel efficiency.

Vehicle tracking, or “telematics” systems as they’re also commonly known, have exploded in popularity in recent years. According to a recent report, the global automotive telematics market is poised for rapid growth over the next few years, with 88% of new vehicles expected to have some form of connectivity by 2025.

What is vehicle tracking used for?

The primary purpose of a commercial vehicle tracking system is to let you know where your fleet vehicles are at all times, and there are many scenarios where this can be helpful.

For instance, if your drivers are running late because of traffic or another unanticipated problem, you can use the information provided by the tracking system to give your customers an estimate of when the driver might arrive.

Some of the other use cases for vehicle tracking systems include:

Efficient route planning

Advanced vehicle tracking systems like those offered by Trakm8 offer real-time map tracking via GPS. Not only does this help you to deter theft by making criminals think twice about stealing your vehicles but it also enables you to carry out proactive and reactive (in the case of unforeseen events such as accidents and congestion) route planning.

Using Trakm8, fleet managers can plan the most efficient routes that are informed by real-time data. In the case of electrified fleets, it’s also possible to plan routes according to available charging infrastructure and mitigate range limitations.

Creating charging schedules (for electrified fleets)

One of the biggest challenges faced by fleet managers when transitioning to electrified fleets is so-called range anxiety and figuring out how to keep vehicles charged up. It’s something that requires careful planning around driver schedules, routes, potential congestion, and even environmental factors such as weather and temperature.

A vehicle tracking solution like Trakm8 makes it easy for fleet managers to plan recharging priorities based on schedules and routes. It also makes it easy for drivers to pinpoint available charging stations to allow them to select the best routes based on current charging needs. If a vehicle’s battery ever depletes to a critical level, fleet managers will also be notified so that they can step in to help.  

Monitoring driver activities

It’s important to keep an eye on your drivers while they’re on the road. This is because with full-time professional drivers, bad habits can easily develop over time and it’s easy for them to become complacent. Given that one accident could send your insurance premiums skyrocketing, it’s something that you want to avoid.

Trakm8’s vehicle tracking systems continuously gather data about your fleet vehicles and provide you with a complete, real-time overview of how drivers are behaving behind the wheel. Information that’s collected and reported by fleet tracking systems can include routes taken, distance travelled, driving time, average vehicle speed, harsh acceleration and braking, and exceptional events such as breakdowns and accidents.

Begin optimising your fleet with Trakm8

Trakm8 offers a range of advanced hardware and software products to help you manage your fleet more effectively and save money. Our innovative telematics products can save you as much as 12% on fuel costs, 50% on vehicle insurance premiums and substantial savings in accident and vehicle maintenance costs.

We’ve worked hard to develop some of the most advanced devices and fleet management software on the market, and we’ve ensured that all our systems are quick to install and simple to use. With Trakm8, you can start tracking real-time vehicle data and transforming your fleet management immediately.

Based in Coleshill, UK, Trakm8 proudly holds the ‘Made in Britain’ marque. Get in touch to find out how Trakm8 can help you manage and optimise your fleet.

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