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What is GPS Fleet Tracking?

The Global Positioning System (GPS) network was developed in the 1970's by the US military and was declassified in 1982 for commercial use. It includes multiple satellites orbiting the earth at a distance of approximately 20,000 miles. The satellites provide detailed time and positioning information. GPS vehicle tracking and fleet management systems use a GPS transmitter/receiver and a small antenna on each vehicle that links it to the GPS network which can then monitor each vehicle's activity 24 X 7 X 365. The vehicle data is then downloaded into the user's master database, providing a permanent history of the entire fleet operation.

GPS-based fleet management systems combine GPS-based tracking data and proprietary software to deliver an informative, cost-effective way to monitor drivers' efficiency and productivity. The systems provide managers with key vehicle data such as start and stop times, number of stops by address per day, time spent at each stop, mileage, speed, idle times, routes traveled and more. The primary goal of GPS-based fleet management systems is to save your business time, money and provide a tool to verify accountability for the employees using your company vehicles. With access to this data, you can better manage drivers' efficiency and productivity, identify "lost time" in vehicle routes and the costs related to engine service, vehicle maintenance, fuel, tires, insurance, customer service, payroll/overtime, etc. There are many ways to customize the data collected to fit any fleet service operation. Special features are easily added that can measure "events." An event feature would track a user-specific activity, such as when a door was opened or closed, or when an onboard compressor was turned on, how long it ran and when it turned off. These readings would capture "real-time" measurements anytime, day or night. Now, you can validate what your vehicle and equipment did, plus when and where it was done.

GPS-based fleet management systems can either be "active," providing a real-time link between a monitoring station and each vehicle, or "passive," automatically downloading accumulated information into a base station whenever the vehicle is at it’s “home” base. The difference comes down to needs and cost. To provide real-time data, an “active” system uses a data link, such as a cellular connection, from each vehicle back to the base station. This involves a monthly monitoring fee through a cellular provider. Passive systems require no interaction from a dispatcher or vehicle operator. Information is downloaded automatically whenever the vehicle returns to its home base. Therefore passive systems do not require a monthly monitoring fee. Fleet tracking systems collect information in a database format and then use software to present the information in an easy-to-read report format. The software allows companies to analyze productivity of individual drivers, or the entire fleet, against established benchmarks. Nearly all companies immediately see direct cost benefits. In short, this application of the GPS technology is all about accountability and verification. The value of a GPS fleet tracking system goes beyond managing the vehicles. By having records that can demonstrate the fleet stays within speed limits and determined geographic areas, many users find that their overall cost of fleet insurance is reduced. In summary, the benefits to a company are obvious--including detailed records of vehicle usage, better route management, payroll verification and decreased fuel consumption.

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