Commercial vehicle tracking continues to grow as customers seek increasing visibility of their fleets for a variety of factors. Applications range from simple GPS vehicle location tracking to integrated solutions that provide detailed information on a vehicle’s performance. The value of these solutions ranges from visibility of a vehicle’s location, monitoring driver behavior, better utilization information and improved vehicle management. The financial benefits potentially include reduced maintenance costs, savings on insurance premiums, improved asset utilization, and overall operational and capital expense reduction.

Typical solutions involve the installation of a tracking device, which based on the type of device can be either inside or outside the vehicle, and connection to a diagnostic port for reporting information on vehicle performance. Depending on where the vehicle is operated, the device will require a monthly subscription to a cellular or satellite network in order to report the information that is being collected. The benefit of this solution is that information can be reported back on a real-time basis. Analytics software is then used to report information and provide insights into optimizing performance of the tracked vehicles. In addition, alerts and alarms can be triggered based on pre-defined business rules.

Sophisticated software applications, such as Visi-Trac Analytics, enable the inclusion of IoT sensor data and inputs from other data capture technologies, to expand uses beyond just tracking the vehicle and driver. For example, sensors and RFID readers can be used to monitor cargo or inventory that is being delivered or used by commercial vehicles. This enables customers to gain greater benefits from implementing a vehicle tracking solution because a single cellular or satellite device which reports information, combined with the analytics software, can support both vehicle/driver information as well as cargo and inventory data.

One noteworthy point is that the more data that is captured and needs to be reported, the higher the costs for a monthly cellular or satellite data plan. As a result, while data costs continue to decline on a per bit basis, it is important to understand the costs of transmitting real-time data.

To better manage costs, it is key to determine whether it is critical for data to be transmitted real-time. For customers whose vehicles return to a centralized location at the end of a day or trip, attractive alternatives exist where data is stored on the device installed in the vehicle and downloaded automatically when the vehicle returns to the centralized location. This solution negates the need for a monthly cellular or satellite data plan and can result in significant savings when evaluating data demands from large fleets over time.

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