iTracking Blog

A Guide to Vehicle Tracking Systems

Posted in: Vehicle Tracking Systems
Date posted: 23 February 2016

Commercial vehicle tracking systems may not be the first thing your company thinks about as it begins to expand its fleet of vehicles, but it could well be one of the most important technologies it ever invests in.

The power and availability of telematics systems have grown massively in the last few years, with increased mobile data speeds and improved GPS accuracy allowing you to reliably track huge amounts of information from a single location.

A realisation that onboard telematics can also lower insurance premiums has also boosted the popularity of these devices with a non-commercial customer base. According to a recent influential report, the global fleet management software market is expected to grow at 21.20% over the period 2015 to 2020.

In this article, I want to give a breakdown on how and why vehicle tracking systems can benefit your business. First though, let’s take a look at how fleet tracking systems actually work.

Fleet Vehicle Tracking Systems

How do Vehicle Tracking Systems Work?

Vehicle tracking systems can be used to track anything from individual vehicles to entire commercial fleets. They work by using global positioning systems but unlike the GPS device you might find in your car, specialist vehicle tracking systems like the TomTom Link 410 and Link 510 can transmit real-time data back to a central computer, showing you where your fleet of vehicles are and where they’ve been.

Collating and processing historical vehicle tracking data can give businesses deeper insights into journey times, as well as time spent on location as well as mileage and routes taken. Modern vehicle tracking systems also go beyond the limitations of GPS devices to give businesses data on driver behaviour by monitoring things like fuel consumption, speed, driving patterns and accelerator and brake usage.

Tachograph Management and On-Board Diagnostics

Tachographs have been around for a long time (they were first introduced for use on the railways in 1844) but since the early 1980s have been mandatory in Europe. Traditionally tachograph data was analogue in nature and recorded on a wax coated paper disc from a device mounted on the vehicle’s gearbox. Since 2006 though, digital tachographs have become the favoured medium, with data on the vehicle being recorded and stored on a small flash device instead of a paper disc.

The technology on board many modern vehicle tracking systems allows the collection and real-time transmission of digitally stored tachograph data back to a central tachograph management system. As mentioned already, many modern tracking systems also collect on board diagnostics from the vehicle’s computer. Combined with the mandatory tachograph data, this allows companies to access and analyse a huge amount of information on driver behaviour and performance information such as RPM, seatbelt utilization, airbag deployment, fuel level monitoring, over breaking, throttle position, etc.

You might be asking yourself, what do I need all this information for and how can it benefit my business?

Commercial vehicle tracking

The Benefits of using Vehicle Tracking Systems

The reasons companies use vehicle tracking systems go way beyond regulatory compliance (although this is obviously a very important consideration). Below I have broken down the distinct benefits into four distinct areas:

  • Driver safety
    By monitoring things like speed, seatbelt usage, throttle position, over breaking, etc, vehicle tracking systems can help businesses ensure their drivers are acting safely on the roads. This will help them identify drivers who may be a potential risk to other road users as well as the business itself. Far from a big brother culture, the use of tracking systems will help companies create appropriate training programs and engender a culture of safe and sensible driving that will ultimately benefit the business as a whole.
  • Productivity cost savings
    The cost savings associated with productivity include increased route efficiency and fuel savings through the monitoring of driver behaviour. The ability to track and correct driver behaviour can also lead to lower accident rates which can represent a significant cost saving for companies, including lower insurance premiums. Re-routing vehicles to avoid traffic congestion can also offer significant cost benefits and better customer service. Finally, better management of driver time can lead to less driver overtime.
  • Operational cost savings
    Having access to onboard vehicle diagnostics allows for significant savings in operational costs through the identification of vehicle problems before they get worse or lead to breakdowns and roadside recovery. They also allow companies to manage the logistical requirements of sourcing parts, enhancing mobile resource productivity.
  • Regulatory compliance
    It has been a requirement in the EEC since 1986 for companies to have tachographs fitted in their vehicles. Since 2007 this has needed to show the driving and resting times for professional drivers. The ability to remotely collect this information makes it far easier for companies to meet their regulatory commitments.

There is no doubt that fleet tracking systems, such as TomTom WEBFLEET®, combined with effective onboard diagnostics, can lead to significant savings and represent very good ROI. According to Doug Peters, telematics analytics leader at GE Capital Fleet Services: “an integrated, enterprise-wide approach to telematics use will enable a business to apply quality process disciplines to mobile operations – much like a manufacturing organization applies to an assembly line.” We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.

At iTracking we’re passionate about the benefits in both operational efficiency and cost savings that vehicle tracking systems can bring your business. For more information on any of the points raised in this guide, or any of the products we supply, please call us today on 0333 2000 670 or email us to arrange your personal demo.