September 11, 2019
As trailers continue to outnumber trucks on the road three to one, it's becoming increasingly important for fleet managers to have GPS trailer tracking in place as an additional layer of visibility. With nearly 6 million trailers in use in the United States alone, trailer tracking devices present a quick and easy way for fleet managers to locate and keep track of these important assets.
By providing real-time location updates, GPS trailer tracking gives fleets a cost-effective way to maintain customer and employee visibility, accurately right-size fleets, reduce time spent on yard hunts, and increase security with geofencing.
Though many fleets use telematics in their own vehicles, some trucking companies rely on independent owner-operator contractors to complete a portion of their hauling. This can put fleet managers in a tough spot if the contracted trucks don't have vehicle tracking in place, especially when employees or customers rely on this type of visibility.
To remedy this, fleets can simply use their own GPS trailer tracking solution as a stand-in in the scenario that a contractor doesn't have vehicle tracking software or simply partners with a different provider. This way, customers and employees can remain in the loop no matter what. This also provides trucking companies with more control over trailer utilization and prevents fleets from turning down work simply because a partner uses a different telematics solution.
For many fleets, this removes any concern about accessing a contractor’s telematics solution. For example, fleets can use Samsara trailer tracking to gain location information about their trailer even when the trailer is in use by a truck that’s not part of their fleet or uses a different fleet management solution. This can be particularly useful when a third party is making deliveries for a fleet or if a fleet is working with a maintenance provider.
GPS fleet tracking also allows fleets to provide the same level of uninterrupted service to its customers, regardless of whether a different trucking company is in the picture. Fleets can simply depend on their own trailer tracking to provide customers with a Live Sharing link that communicates real-time vehicle locations and up-to-the-minute ETAs from a shared URL.
Trailers are expensive to own and manage, especially when factoring in maintenance, insurance, and storage costs. Though these costs are ideally offset by incoming business, what happens when a trailer’s expenses outweigh the money it's bringing in for the company? For this reason, it’s incredibly important for a fleet to have the right mix of trailers and drivers to meet the needs of the business.
To effectively rightsize a fleet, a fleet needs to undergo a utilization analysis. This is typically done by determining a threshold for miles driven or hours used, and identifying if a vehicle or piece of equipment falls above or below that number. But the problem with these thresholds is that they often disregard vehicle type or the kind of job performed, making it difficult to accurately monitor utilization–especially when there might be hundreds or even thousands of them to keep track of.
But with GPS trailer tracking, fleet managers can actually see how each trailer is measuring up against its potential. To help fleets drill down on this information, Samsara’s Utilization Reports secure the percentage of usage by segmenting trailers by type, location, and date used. This can help fleets improve trailer-to-tractor ratio and even grow revenue by redeploying under-utilized trailers to areas with higher demand.
Phillip Deckers is the Director of Operations Initiatives & Analytics at Maines Paper & Food Service, a distribution company that operates in 37 states across the US. GPS trailer tracking is critical for him to understand his fleet’s trailer utilization, particularly for forecasting utilization and in some instances, substantiating existing models."Samsara trailer tracking has validated our utilization models," Deckers said. “It justifies how we do what we do.”
Trailer tracking systems provide fleets with real-time location information, but fleet managers can choose to instead be alerted via ping at specific intervals. This amount of visibility can often be sufficient, especially for an unpowered trailer or asset. But in certain instances—like theft or unauthorized use—there's a real urgency to identify a trailer's location as soon as possible. That’s when geofence alerts can prove to be incredibly valuable to fleets.
Geofences allow fleet managers to draw a virtual perimeter around an area they do not want a trailer to exit, whether that's a yard or job site. If a trailer does for whatever reason cross that virtual boundary, the fleet manager will be automatically alerted and have access to a real-time location ‘helicopter view’ of that trailer. This removes any guesswork about the trailer’s location and can be useful to share with police authority in case of theft. Samsara geofence alerts also allow fleets to designate who receives an alert and how they get it (email or SMS) to make sure the right people are contacted via their preferred or most-responsive method of communication.
The parking lot at Maine's distribution center spans nearly half a mile in each direction. If a yard spotter is looking for a trailer, it might require a long walk before realizing the desired asset is actually located in the opposite direction.
But with GPS trailer tracking, Deckers can direct a yard spotter to exactly where the trailer is before he even begins his search. "If you are looking for a specific trailer and you know it’s on the right side, you don't need to turn left," Deckers said. "You can know where it is before walking outside of the building."
With GPS trailer tracking, fleets can not only improve yard and dock operations but also automate inventory tracking by allowing fleet managers to easily search trailers by location. And though this might not seem like a substantial time commitment, Deckers is swift to note how quickly the time adds up. "It's a couple of minutes here and a couple of minutes there,” Deckers said. “But if over the course of my career I got back the time I spent aimlessly meandering yards looking for assets, I'd probably be a year younger!"
Is your fleet looking for GPS tracking devices to help manage its trailers? Samsara’s Asset Gateway is seamlessly powered by the 7-way cable, with a battery and solar-powered backup that integrates with Samsara’s complete sensor system to combine trailer and asset tracking, fleet management, and compliance solutions in a single platform. Whether you’re looking for ways to rightsize your trailers or simply need a better way to track heavy equipment, the Asset Gateway can provide valuable insights and peace of mind for your fleet.
To start tracking with Samsara's GPS trailer tracking, reach out today for a free demo or free trial today.
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