A Comprehensive Guide to Tracking Your Trailer Loads

April 27, 2021

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Key Takeaways

Tracking trailer loads is critical to meeting and exceeding customer expectations. In this guide, we explain how trailer tracking works and what you should look for when considering a trailer tracking solution.

Trailer tracking offers a number of benefits that enable you to streamline driver and customer updates. By closely monitoring your trailers, you can reduce detention and delays and provide real-time ETAs to your customers. 

How does trailer tracking work?

Trailer tracking uses GPS technology to monitor your trailer and your trailer loads in real-time. This includes everything from load temperature to trip progress and more. The visibility afforded by trailer tracking enables you to streamline driver and customer updates, benefiting your business in a number of ways.

Whether you are an owner-operator or a massive corporate fleet, you can exceed customer expectations with live updates. Furthermore, you can increase margins by reducing operating cost and increasing trailer utilization.

Trailer tracking solutions can benefit every type of trailer in your fleet. This includes, but is not limited to: 

  • Dry van trailers:  Enclosed dry van trailers are often used to transport goods and products that are stable and do not require a controlled environment set at a specific temperature.

  • Flatbed trailers: Typically used to transport oversized and heavy equipment or supplies, this trailer has no roof or sides. 

  • Seasonal trailers: These trailers are often rented out when not in use or are only used during certain times of the year, including particularly busy periods.

  • Specialized trailers: Specifically constructed to support the transportation of specialized cargo, these trailers come in all shapes and sizes, for a variety of purposes.

  • Reefer trailers: This trailer often looks similar to a dry van trailer but features a refrigeration unit. Reefer trailers are used to keep products in a temperature controlled environment and loads transported in reefers require additional monitoring.

What features should your trailer tracker include?

All trailer trackers are not created equal. With the right tracker, you can streamline your fleet routing, keep your vehicles running their best, and give your customers peace of mind. To make sure you get the most out of your trailer tracker, here are some features to look for:

  • Trailer assignment: Tools like the Samsara Driver App let your drivers select or be assigned a trailer, navigate their route, and complete and upload DVIRs in seconds.

  • Maintenance alerts: Receive automatic scheduling notifications based on DVIRs, trailer mileage, service intervals, or using diagnostics and fault codes from specialty trailers and reefers.

  • Dispatcher routing tools: View and update routes for drivers while they’re on the road to avoid traffic and weather delays and ensure on-time delivery.

  • Cargo monitoring: Get real-time alerts via email and SMS when wireless sensors detect that a trailer door is opened or a load is outside of temperature range.

  • Real-time ETA: Give customers access to a live sharing link to check the progress of their delivery on demand without having to make a phone call.

How does a GPS trailer tracker improve your fleet management?

While you may have cab-based GPS trackers in your vehicles, there are a number of unique benefits to tracking your trailers. Here are some of the ways that trailer trackers can improve your supply chain and transportation management:

  • Real-time location information: GPS trackers use a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) network that transmits location, speed, time, and direction data, giving fleet managers a quick and easy way to locate and protect your trailers.

  • Partner visibility: On-time delivery is essential to shippers, so you can provide your customers peace of mind and visibility even if you don’t have vehicle tracking.

  • Rightsized fleet: Considering how much trailers cost in terms of maintenance, insurance, and storage costs, having GPS tracking information can let you know how each trailer is measuring up against its potential so you can streamline your fleet.

  • Trailer protection: Geo-fencing — a virtual perimeter that you set around your trailer— can help protect your trailers from theft or unauthorized use by alerting you and anyone you designate if the trailer goes past the boundaries. Some geofence solutions like the ones in Samsara’s trailer trackers can actually contact you when the trailer isn’t connected to a power source.

  • Optimized trailer scheduling: Transportation management can be challenging with large fleets, but with GPS trailer tracking metrics, dispatchers can easily see which trailers are working which jobs and creates schedules of your leased trailers so you’ll never underutilize trailers or accidentally double book machines you need.

  • Inventory management: For yards with hundreds of vehicles and trailers that span miles, GPS trailer tracking improves yard and dock operations, automates inventory tracking, and can even drive functionality that matches the right trailer for a specific load and prepares it ahead of time, saving time and money.

  • Reefer monitoring: An unbroken cold chain is critical when cargo comes with temperature requirements. Record-keeping is essential, which is why fitting satellite trailer tracking onto your reefer helps provide peace of mind that perishable goods will stay at a certain temperature in-transit.

And all of this adds up to serious time and cost savings. Blue Lightning Logistics, for example, used Samsara’s live GPS to track down 3 stolen assets worth $200,000 in value. KeHe Distributors, meanwhile, eliminated 1000 hours of unnecessary check calls by using live GPS to track arrivals and departures instead of calling drivers. This is why it’s so important to find the right trailer tracker for your needs.

What is the best way to track refrigerated trailer loads?

When transporting perishable goods, your reputation depends on product quality. Food spoilage accounts for $35 billion in losses and 1.3 billion tons of waste, with about 12 percent of this waste coming from changes in room temperature. When food spoils on the truck, it hurts your reputation, but more importantly, it hurts your customers’ businesses.

This is why temperature data loggers can be the difference between several hundred pounds of food spoilage and peace of mind. Temperature monitors, like Samsara’s Environmental Monitors, offer automated and continuous temperature logging so fleets can eliminate manual recordkeeping and make it intuitive to provide accurate temperature readings in real time.

Not only does this help carriers communicate effectively with customers, but it also ensures Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) compliance. Because temperature and humidity information is continuously logged, fleets can easily pull historical data as proof of product quality to regulators.

Samsara’s reefer monitoring offers a number of solutions that give you even more control and insights into your refrigerated trailer loads, including:

  • Real-time temperature tracking: Constant temperature reporting means you can spot and correct fluctuations before they become a problem.

  • Thermo King and Carrier refrigeration unit compatibility: Turn reefers on and off, change run mode, clear alarms, and adjust set-points from the Samsara dashboard.

  • Service and quality improvements: Win more business by providing temperature data in Proof of Delivery (POD) documents, and improve customer service with more predictable delivery times.

  • Automatic alerts: Reduce temperature-related loss claims with notifications when temperature is out-of-range so you can avoid spoilage and protect your bottom line.

How do Samsara trailer trackers offer even more value?

The Samsara Asset Gateway — our GPS trailer tracking device — integrates with our complete sensor system to combine trailer tracking, fleet management, safety tools, and compliance solutions in a single platform. Whether you’re a food distributor aiming to improve cold chain efficiency or a cargo carrier who needs to keep track of loads, the Samsara trailer tracking device can provide valuable insights and cost savings.

Samsara’s Asset Gateways are built to work with your specific trailers and their needs. Samsara's trailer tracking solution is real-time, giving you the power to adjust the connection rate so that you can receive updates as frequently as you need, up to full live metrics. Our solutions work with powered and unpowered trailers, and thanks to their compact size, they can attach to almost any trailer. Additionally, each device includes:

  • A durable, waterproof shell built to outlast the harshest conditions

  • Anti-theft screws and a custom screw bit

  • Long-lasting 4-year battery life 

  • Fully wireless accessory sensors that integrate seamlessly with Samsara gateways

To learn more about how Samsara asset tracking can help you successfully track your trailers, reach out for a free trial or learn more about the technology today.

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