How to use GPS to Track Routes and Logistics

May 6, 2022

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Key Takeaways

Modern GPS trackers are designed to offer location data, but some offer so much more. With the right solution, you can optimize routing and dispatching, save money, improve asset security, and even offer customers real-time peace of mind.

The days of navigating with paper maps are long gone, but for businesses that rely on fleets of commercial vehicles, GPS does far more than track vehicles and help drivers navigate. Modern GPS trackers, when part of a comprehensive fleet management system, can provide more efficient fleet tracking, routing, and asset management. Let’s take a look at how your GPS can change the way you look at routing and logistics.

How can GPS help with route tracking?

A GPS tracker is a device that uses the Global Positioning System to determine and track a vehicle’s location, speed, time, and direction. Through GPS satellite data, businesses get access to both real-time and historical navigation data on the vehicles in their fleet. And some GPS tracking devices, like the Samsara Vehicle Gateway, include real-time GPS tracking with live-to-the-second location data so you can monitor your fleet operations in real time while also providing customers with ETAs for a more seamless experience.

Probably the most notable benefit of GPS technology is logistics. With vehicle tracking systems, you keep track of where your drivers are and can determine which would be best suited to send to the job site. Some devices—like the ones offered by Samsara—also offer real-time GPS tracking, advanced analytics, and intuitive reports, giving your dispatchers deeper insights into your drivers’ locations and capacity for more informed dispatching.

What features should a GPS tracking solution include?

Consider a GPS tracking solution that goes beyond simple location identification. A comprehensive solution will provide your business with benefits, including:

  • Optimized routing: Certain GPS tracking solutions, like Samsara, provide route optimization tools to monitor your fleet and inform more streamlined route planning. 

  • Reduced costs: GPS vehicle tracking devices can save costs, including reduced fuel costs and time spent idling with more efficient routing by giving you more information about your vehicles, helping you make more impactful decisions.

  • Improved security: With GPS technology, you can use location data to find and recover stolen or misplaced assets faster, and some GPS truck tracking systems even let you set alerts if a vehicle is used during off-hours or if an asset leaves a pre-designated area.

  • Retain customers: Whether your fleet is delivering products to people's homes or is part of a more intricate supply chain, customers appreciate real-time updates — like those sent by Samsara’s Live Sharing feature, which lets them follow a truck's route and ETA in real time.

  • Mobile tracking: Some modern GPS trackers offer mobile tracking apps for Android and iOS — like Samsara’s Fleet app — letting fleet managers on the go can stay up to date with real-time ETAs and vehicle locations.

  • Compatibility with other tools: Third party tools can unlock even more features and functionality when paired with your GPS tracker, so the easier it is to get the tools to work together, the quicker you can enjoy the benefits.

  • Government use: Government agencies across the world use geographic information system (GIS) technology and a range of routing software to manage operations and improve business functions and logistics. For example many use ESRI logistics solutions to help provide service work more effectively and more productive with routing. Samsara’s connected operations cloud has open APIs and integrations with a variety of routing software such as ESRI to help public agencies provide more efficient, safe and sustainable operations to their constituents. 

How can you tell which GPS tracking solution is right for your fleet?

Not all fleet tracking solutions are built equally, and depending on your fleet’s needs, some GPS tracking devices might be a better fit than others. Small business fleets with more limited budgets, for example, might need solutions that help them streamline operational efficiency with features like route optimization that helps reduce fuel consumption by giving fleet managers the data to map out the quickest routes even if they aren’t the shortest. To give you an idea where to start when looking through GPS tracking solutions, here are five key features to consider when choosing a GPS solution:

1. Real-time location tracking: If your business relies on precise, up-to-the-second location data, getting a device with real-time tracking is key. For fleets with vehicles that drive shorter distances or where a ping every 10 minutes would be sufficient, real-time tracking likely isn’t a necessity.

2. Security features: Fleets that have had challenges securing vehicles or equipment could benefit with a GPS tracking system with geofences. With geofences, if a vehicle or piece of equipment crosses your specified virtual boundary, the tracking system will automatically alert you and provide real-time access to the asset’s location, making it easier to track and report to the police.

3. All-in-one fleet management solution: For more complex operations that require a higher-level view of the fleet to consolidate providers, GPS trackers that are part of an all-in-one solution can give you the insights you need. By consolidating your data into a single view, you are empowered to manage multiple tasks, including equipment and vehicle tracking, safety solutions, and fleet visibility. And with easy integration with third party routing software like Transfinder and RoadNet, you can quickly analyze routing and driver performance data for even more informed fleet management.

4. Ease of use: Fleet managers with drivers that aren’t used to or don’t need complicated GPS solutions might want to consider looking for solutions that are simple to deploy and easy to install. Plug and play systems, like Samsara’s, can be installed in minutes without an installation partner, and require minimal training, especially with our mobile fleet app. And when coupled with a system designed with built-in organizational tools—like Samsara’s tag functionality—it becomes even easier to use.

5. Strong connectivity: A GPS tracking system is only as good as its connection, so consider one with high-speed connectivity—since 4G LTE cellular connectivity is about ten times faster than 3G devices—with built-in WiFi hotspots for laptops and mobile devices to connect drivers, applications, and devices. The Samsara Vehicle Gateway license includes up to 500MB per month of WiFi data, improving productivity and customer service while keeping costs low.

What benefits do Samsara’s GPS solutions offer?

At Samsara, we say that we’ve put together a fleet management platform that lets you focus on growing your business. Our GPS trackers offer improved efficiency, combining real-time GPS with weather and traffic data so that you will be able to deliver the best experience for your customers. This fleet optimization—along with benefits like in-device WiFi, fuel management monitoring, and vehicle diagnostics—are designed to save you money and hassle. And this is all just the beginning.

If you’re ready to see how our GPS solutions can work to improve your fleet’s logistics, routing, and overall efficiency, take a look at what we have to offer.

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