7 Ways Real-Time GPS Tracking—and Other Real-Time Data—Helps You Run a Smarter Fleet

December 18, 2019

Understanding where your drivers and assets are is an essential part of creating and maintaining an efficient fleet, but not just any GPS tracking data will do. GPS tracking devices that only offer breadcrumb data can’t provide full insights into where your fleet is in real-time, making it difficult to prevent theft, dispatch drivers, and provide customers with accurate ETAs. 

Some telematics devices, like the Samsara Vehicle Gateway, include a real-time GPS tracker that provides live-to-the-second data. This lets you see the vehicles in your fleet moving in real-time, so you always know exactly where they are.

But the value of real-time data goes well beyond GPS information. A telematics device that collects and integrates other real-time data—such as engine fault codes and harsh driving events—can be instrumental in helping you improve the efficiency, safety, and reliability of your entire fleet. 

Here are seven important ways you can use real-time GPS tracking, and other real-time data, to run a smarter fleet: 

1. Reduce theft with geofencing

2. Dispatch the right drivers at the right time

3. Share real-time locations with customers

4. Easily adapt to changes in traffic and weather

5. Improve driver safety

6. Avoid Hours of Service (HOS) violations

7. Reduce maintenance downtime



1. Reduce theft with geofencing

Where are my vehicles right now? That’s the question GPS breadcrumbs can’t answer. But real-time GPS tracking allows you to see the live location of your vehicles and assets at all times. Beyond the value of always knowing where your fleet is, combining real-time GPS tracking with geofencing can help you prevent theft. 

By setting up geofences, you’ll be automatically alerted if your vehicles or assets unexpectedly move outside of working hours or across your yard’s perimeter so you can take immediate action to stop theft. If a vehicle that shouldn’t be moving moves, a GPS tracking solution like Samsara can provide you with instant access to a real-time “helicopter view” of your vehicle, which you can share with authorities to retrieve your stolen property. 

With Samsara’s real-time GPS tracking system, Blue Lightning Logistics has recovered three stolen tractor-trailers. When they discovered a theft had occurred, they were able to see their assets’ live locations through the Samsara Dashboard. They shared the real-time GPS location of their assets with local authorities and were able to retrieve their trailers, saving them nearly $200,000 in replacement costs. 

2. Dispatch the right drivers at the right time

Only having a partial view into your fleet can make dispatching drivers a frustrating, time-consuming process. Coordinating pickups and route changes often involves multiple phone calls between drivers and dispatchers, which can be extremely inefficient. 

By tracking your drivers’ locations in real-time, you can make informed decisions on how to most efficiently dispatch them. When new work orders arise or unexpected pick-ups are needed, GPS tracking data will show you which driver is closest and should be dispatched. 

Real-time fleet tracking is especially helpful for passenger transit companies who measure their success by how quickly they can get to customers. 

Windy City Limousine is one of many customer-first fleets that rely on Samsara’s real-time vehicle GPS trackers to improve their dispatching efficiency. Before Samsara, Windy City spent more than 500 hours each month manually calling drivers for their location. By using real-time GPS vehicle trackers, they reduced their call volume between drivers and dispatchers by 30%. Knowing the real-time location of their vehicles allows them to provide accurate ETAs to their customers, which serves as a competitive advantage in attracting new business. 

3. Share real-time locations with customers

On top of improving dispatch efficiency, real-time GPS tracking is crucial for accurate ETAs. And providing customers with real-time ETAs is key to improving their happiness with your company. Instead of calling back-and-forth between your drivers and your customers, a solution like Samsara’s Live Sharing Links lets you share GPS location updates directly with your customers. With these links, your customers can track your vehicles on their smartphones in real-time and know exactly when to expect your driver to arrive. 

Providing customers with accurate ETAs can increase their trust in you. And the more your customers trust you, the more likely they are to continue partnering with you. 

Telecommunications company Uniti Fiber relies on real-time GPS tracking to update their customers during critical outages. By sending out Live Sharing Links, Uniti Fiber gives their customers visibility into where their technicians are and what they’re doing to restore connectivity. With real-time GPS, their customers now have a better understanding of when service will be restored, which has provided a boost in customer satisfaction for Uniti Fiber.   

4. Easily adapt to changes in traffic and weather

Conditions on the road, especially weather and traffic, are often out of your control. But real-time GPS tracking can give you the power to quickly understand and respond to changing conditions so your drivers can stay on schedule. 

Some GPS tracking services, like Samsara, provide real-time weather and traffic overlays, allowing dispatchers to see if drivers are impacted and redirect them to faster routes. Additionally, with a solution like the Samsara Driver App, dispatchers can easily communicate and send new routes to drivers through text-to-speech messaging. 

Paul Drake, the Distribution Manager at Clover Dairy, uses Samsara traffic data to help reduce the stress of dealing with questioning customers when delays occur. Before Samsara, he couldn’t provide customers with an explanation if his drivers didn’t show up on time. Now, he keeps his Samsara dashboard open all day. When customers call, he can quickly see if his drivers are delayed by traffic and provide updated ETAs.  



5. Improve driver safety

In addition to real-time GPS tracking, some telematics devices, like the Samsara Vehicle Gateway (VG), have the ability to collect other real-time data, like harsh driving events. With a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope, the VG can help you improve fleet safety by tracking sudden braking, aggressive acceleration, and sharp turns. You can even set up cell phone alerts to be notified via email or text message when a harsh event is detected. 

While these alerts can be helpful on their own, to truly leverage real-time safety data, you’ll benefit from pairing your telematic device with an AI-dash cam solution that has real-time video retrieval. Instead of waiting weeks for video footage you can instantly be alerted and retrieve video when drivers brake too quickly or are using their phones while driving. By continuously and proactively coaching drivers on how to improve their driving, you can prevent collisions from happening in the first place. Meanwhile, if your drivers are in an accident, this real-time video retrieval allows them to show footage of the accident to law enforcement so they can be exonerated at the scene. 

KS Industries, an oil and gas construction company, uses real-time video retrieval to prevent accidents and fatalities on job sites. Before Samsara, they had to wait two weeks to review footage of their workers. Now, they watch video footage the same day so they can instantly correct any unsafe practices, like distracted driving. Real-time video retrieval gives KS Industries peace of mind that their drivers are safe and less prone to accidents. 

6. Avoid Hours of Service (HOS) violations

Electronically tracking your drivers’ Hours of Service (HOS) is now mandated, but not just any ELD solution will do. To gain accurate insights into your drivers’ shifts and avoid HOS violations you need to tackle the ELD mandate with a solution that has simple, efficient, and real-time tracking capabilities.

With a solution like Samsara’s real-time HOS tracking, you can see at a glance how long drivers have been on the road, the time until their next rest break, and how many hours are left in their driving period. Drivers receive reminders through their smartphones of when to take breaks and pull off the road, which makes it easy for them to avoid violations. Your dispatchers also receive alerts when drivers are approaching their breaks and the end of their shifts. Combined with real-time GPS data, dispatchers can use this real-time HOS tracking to make decisions on how to route drivers to avoid violations. 

Stokes Trucking uses real-time HOS and GPS tracking to help match drivers to nearby loads. When a new pick-up is needed, their dispatchers use the Samsara dashboard to see which driver is closest and has enough time left in their shift to collect the load. Having real-time visibility into the status of their drivers allows Stokes Trucking to efficiently route their drivers while preventing HOS violations.  

7. Reduce maintenance downtime

The easiest way to keep your fleet healthy and on the road is by giving your vehicles the maintenance care they need—and the easiest way to ensure that happens is by continuously collecting real-time engine data. With a telematic device like the Samsara VG, you don't have to rely on manually tracking mileage or engine hours. Instead, the VG uses your OBD port to constantly pull real-time usage data. You can use this real-time tracking to automatically create preventative maintenance schedules based on mileage, engine hours, or previous breakdown history, and your mechanics can be alerted when a vehicle is due for a visit to the shop. By collecting real-time usage data, your mechanics can also spot and correct smaller issues ahead of time, like low batteries or engine faults, before vehicles need major repairs. 

If your drivers run into problems on the road, you can receive email or SMS alerts when a vehicle issue is detected. Using real-time vehicle tracking, you can see where your driver is and send them to the closest mechanic for repairs—that’s how motorcoach operator Holiday Tours leverages real-time usage data. 

With Samsara, they’ve been able to pull engine fault codes before their buses’ indicator lights even turn on. This allows them to safely route drivers to a close mechanic for repairs and gives their mechanics time to prepare the necessary tools before the bus even arrives. By using real-time engine data, Holiday Tours saves at least 10 hours every week in vehicle downtime. 



 

Why real-time tracking really matters

Real-time GPS tracking is a powerful tool on its own, it allows you to have a holistic view of your fleet’s locations so you can efficiently manage your vehicles to improve your revenue. But it’s through combining real-time GPS with other real-time data—like harsh events, preventative maintenance alerts, and driver HOS—that you can truly maximize the efficiency, safety, and health of your entire fleet. The Samsara Vehicle Gateway combines real-time tracking with other real-time data so you can confidently take informed actions to build a smarter fleet. 

If you're not currently leveraging real-time GPS tracking and other real-time data, request a free trial today or read more about Samsara’s GPS tracking solution.

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