Fleet tracking solutions are built on complex technology, but they deliver cost savings and actionable insights that are plain to see and easy to understand. This glossary is designed to help small business owners understand the technology behind these big business benefits, and how they can leverage it to improve their bottom line.
Keep reading to learn all about:
- GPS tracking
- Fleet tracking
- Asset tracking
- Fleet maintenance
- Vehicle downtime
- Driving behavior
- Real-time tracking
- Fuel management
- Tracking devices
- DTC codes
- Fleet management
- Fleet management software
- Fleet dispatching
- Route optimization
- Small business fleet
- Commercial vehicles
- Fleet safety program
- Hard driving
- Vehicle idling
- OBD-II port
- DOT regulations
- Electronic logging
- ELDs (Electronic Logging Devices)
- CAN bus
- Data visualization
GPS tracking is a form of location monitoring that uses satellite technology to tell you the real-time location of vehicles that have GPS tracking devices installed. These devices are equipped with a GPS receiver and some way to record its current location at regular intervals. They then connect to a series of satellites to determine location using a process called trilateration that uses the position of satellites to determine the latitude, longitude, elevation, and time.
GPS tracking devices in vehicles pick up on the signal transmitted by the GPS satellites that are in range, and they use that information to determine the accurate location of the vehicle. Fleet tracking systems that use GPS technology tend to be more reliable than those that rely exclusively on cellular networks for geopositioning.
💡Dig deeper into how GPS tracking works with our primer for business owners.
Fleet tracking is a vehicle management system that uses GPS and telematics technology to collect data from fleet vehicles. Using a GPS tracking device attached to a vehicle (often either hardwired into the vehicle or plugged into an OBD-II port) this data is normally collected in near real time, to equip fleet managers and business owners to make data-driven decisions about their operations.
While GPS location tracking is one important part of the story, an effective fleet tracking solution can also help improve driving habits, reduce fuel usage and related costs, improve vehicle dispatching and customer satisfaction, vehicle health and maintenance, and compliance. Fleet tracking is valuable for both small businesses and enterprise fleets, and solutions like Force by Mojio deliver big business value to small and mid-size home-service based companies.
Asset tracking is the collection of real-time data from assets using GPS trackers, barcodes, RFID tags, QR codes, or scanners. Tracked assets can range from large equipment or tools on a construction site to pallets in a warehouse.
Assets tracked using GPS transmitters send their location data using cellular or satellite networks (or a combination of both) whereas other methods require either manual scanning of barcodes, or beacons and transmitters. Asset tracking software displays data, including location information and asset status, on a map or dashboard for inventory and asset management.
Geofencing is an important aspect of both asset and fleet management technology. A geofence is a digital perimeter on a geographic area–it’s a boundary that can be closed off for monitoring. The use of a geofence is called geofencing, and geofenced areas can be as simple as a radius or customized to satisfy any number of business rules.
Geofences are used in lots of different ways, from location-based promotional messaging to location-based alerts. With a GPS tracking system, business owners can create a geofence of any size, and the system can send notifications when fleet vehicles enter or exit the specified area. This functionality can be used to track travel, ensure vehicles are where they need to be, monitor after-hours or unauthorized use, and alert owners to vehicle theft.
Fleet maintenance is the practice of keeping a company’s vehicles operating safely and reliably. A good fleet maintenance program goes beyond fixing things when they break; it goes beyond reactive maintenance and embraces preventative and proactive maintenance to reduce fleet downtime.
A good fleet management system will include vehicle health and maintenance features that communicate mechanical issues, recalls, and DTC codes as they happen, in plain English. This means you’re not relying on drivers to remember to tell you about a light on the dash, an issue which compounds with the number of vehicles in the fleet. The more vehicles you have, the more it’s a challenge to keep them all running smoothly. Force’s small business maintenance solution shows you a picture of each vehicle’s mechanical health, and sends you an alert as soon as something needs your attention.
Vehicle downtime is deadly for small businesses. When something goes wrong mechanically, whether it’s a breakdown, unscheduled maintenance, or the result of a driving accident, when your vehicles are out of commission, it means there are jobs not being finished, customers being disappointed, and dispatchers scrambling to keep it all together.
Using Force’s vehicle health and maintenance features, driver safety features, and a proactive maintenance schedule, small business owners can reduce fleet downtime by scheduling maintenance in advance, coaching drivers and technicians against driving dangerously, and scheduling jobs and managing deadlines around maintenance.
Good fleet management software supports driver management and the monitoring of driver behavior. Aggressive and dangerous driving behavior is one of the most expensive risks to your business. For small companies, even a single accident or speeding ticket can be a huge financial setback with maintenance and insurance costs.
Since you can’t manually observe all of your operators at once, driver management software allows you to monitor driver behavior without stepping into a vehicle yourself. Force’s driver management system helps you stop aggressive and dangerous driving behaviors immediately with driver RoadScores, speeding alerts, crash detection, and alerts for harsh braking and rapid acceleration.
💡Stopping idling alone could save your small business thousands. Calculate your potential savings.
Real-time tracking is when a device transmits the live location of an asset or vehicle to a dashboard or application that visualizes location data in the context of a map. Tracking is the cornerstone of Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) and Internet of Things (IoT) applications that use geolocation data to automate various processes or trigger different alerts and updates.
In the context of fleet management, real-time tracking is the process that gives business owners and fleet managers visibility into the location of their vehicles at any given moment. Different fleet tracking systems will have different refresh rates, impacting just how ‘real-time’ a tracking system is. A refresh rate of 10 seconds is typically considered ideal, with anything greater having too much of a lag to be meaningful in the moment, and anything faster than 10 seconds being overkill for most use cases (and more costly).
💡Force lets you track your fleet vehicles with an industry-leading 10-second refresh rate at no extra cost.
One of the most immediately felt benefits of fleet tracking is the impact it has on fuel management. With visibility into driver behavior and real-time vehicle location, business owners are able to reduce fleet fuel costs by dispatching vehicles more effectively, identifying and mitigating costly practices like idling, taking the scenic route, and speeding, all of which add up to big expenditures.
Even tire pressure and check engine lights can impact your fuel consumption, and with a fleet tracking system like Force, small businesses can cut these costs.
Telematics is a field that combines the power of telecommunications, vehicle technology, electrical engineering, and computing science, in order to improve operations in commercial fleets. Telematics systems are built upon vehicle tracking devices that are installed into vehicles that permit sending, receiving, and storing telemetry data. These devices are typically connected via the vehicle’s onboard diagnostics OBD-II or Electronic Control Unit with a SIM card and a modem that communicates vehicle data through a wireless network.
The device collects GPS and other vehicle status data and transmits it to a centralized server. The server then interprets the information and enables it to be displayed for end users on secure websites and apps. When telematics data is analyzed, it provides business owners with in-depth insights that can be actioned to improve fleet operations, fuel efficiency, and service.
Tracking devices are devices that transmit location data, but it’s important to note that not all tracking devices are built equally.
There are three main types of tracking devices, and they all work differently. Installed GPS devices are hardwired directly into vehicles, making them tamper-proof, but also difficult to move between your fleet. OBD-II trackers are small devices that plug into your vehicle’s OBD port, providing access to all the vehicle’s diagnostic data. Their accuracy and consistency makes them very reliable, which is why Force by Mojio uses them for industry-leading fleet tracking. Finally, there are Bluetooth trackers, sensor tags that use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to emit location data, but are only locatable when they’re picked up transmitting to a Bluetooth network.
💡 Force’s plug-and-play GPS tracking devices are included in the cost with no hidden fees, shipped directly to you within 2 days, for free.
DTC stands for Diagnostic Trouble Codes, which are also sometimes called engine fault codes. They trigger lights on the dashboard like your standard check engine light when something is wrong with the vehicle. In order to find out what the cause of the problem is, a scanning tool is usually plugged into the OBD-II port to display the code. The five-digit code includes one letter usually followed by four numbers (e.g. P1234), which is generally unhelpful if you don’t have the codes memorized.
Force’s tracking devices connect to the OBD-II port and not only alert you when a DTC code pops up, Force also translates the DTC codes into plain English for small business owners to understand and identify the issue. This can save lots of money on mechanic visits to try to find out what is causing the mystery light on the dashboard.
Fleet management refers to all of the processes and jobs that need to happen in order to keep a fleet of commercial vehicles running efficiently, on time, and within budget. It boils down to finding cost savings using the practice of monitoring fleet activities and making decisions about dispatching and routing, maintenance, and driver management.
Fleet management software
Fleet management software like Force exist to make it easy for managers and small business owners to make strategic decisions about how best to manage their vehicles and drivers. Good fleet management software gives visibility into all of the locations and statuses of a business’ vehicles as well as driver behavior. For example, Force goes beyond vehicle location and provides information about speeding, aggressive driving, harsh cornering, braking, disturbance alerts, and other valuable information about how a fleet is operating.
💡 Force’s fleet management software is ideal for small to mid-size businesses, allowing you to better manage your vehicles, reduce vehicle downtime, and give your customers a 5 star experience.
Fleet dispatching is a critical process whereby someone decides which technicians (and their corresponding vehicle) should be sent to which job site and when. Having visibility into your fleet’s real-time location is integral to making smart dispatch decisions.
Efficient routing results in better business operations and real cost savings. Sending the closest vehicle means less travel time, resulting in lower fuel expenses, and the ability to complete more jobs in a day. More money saved and more money earned, thanks to better dispatching.
Another important aspect of fleet management is route optimization. Route optimization is the process of making smarter data-informed decisions about which vehicle to send to which job, and using which route. When done successfully, route optimization reduces fuel consumption and driving time. Less time driving means less fuel expenditures and more jobs done in the day, which is especially important for smaller home-service based businesses.
Small business fleet
Fleets are as unique as the businesses running and relying on them, and there are significant differences in scope and requirements for fleets with a few vehicles in one region and fleets with dozens of big rigs and dedicated fleet managers. Small business fleets are typically composed of 2-20 vehicles that help business owners and their staff get to their job sites and get the job done. Common small businesses with fleets include plumbing, HVAC technicians, and cleaning. Force is a fleet management software designed explicitly for small businesses.
Commercial fleets of leased or owned vehicles drive U.S. businesses to success. All across the world, businesses use commercial fleets to get people and things where they need to be in order to get the job done.
They are especially important for small businesses that provide home-based services like plumbing, cleaning, HVAC, contracting, electrical, and more. After all, you can’t get the job done if your technicians can’t get to the job site.
Fleet safety program
A fleet safety program is a strategic initiative that establishes the policies and procedures that are necessary to ensure a safe work environment for employees. It combines vehicle tracking and safety technology with consistent coaching to improve driver behavior, reduce accidents, and lower overall operational costs. Fleet and driver safety programs can also help protect against liability from vehicle accidents.
There are never any guarantees that an accident won’t happen in your fleet, but the likelihood is greatly decreased when businesses implement fleet safety programs.
Hard driving, also called aggressive and dangerous driving, is one of the most expensive risks to any small business. For small companies, even a single “minor” accident or speeding ticket can be a huge financial setback, and they are often caused by hard driving. Hard driving also causes significant wear and tear on vehicles over time, leading to greater maintenance costs.
By monitoring driver behavior, Force alerts small business owners to harmful habits like hard driving so they can nip these bad behaviors in the bud.
Vehicle idling is when an engine is running but the vehicle isn’t actively driving. The engine is generating enough power to run baseline operations smoothly, but not enough to actually move. While idling is unavoidable in some circumstances–like when you’re stopped at a red light– in most cases, it isn’t necessary, and idling costs you more than you expect. Idling is harmful for the environment, causes excess wear and tear on engines, and wastes more fuel than simply restarting the engine. With Force’s idling reports, you can identify common culprits and take corrective measures that can have a profound impact on your bottom line.
OBD-II ports are access points to a vehicle’s on-board diagnostics system. The OBD-II port is usually located underneath the driver’s side dashboard, often within 18 inches of the steering wheel. Fleet tracking devices that connect to the OBD-II port provide valuable vehicle diagnostics information, like DTC codes and maintenance alerts, in real-time to business owners.
The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) is one of the executive departments of the U.S. federal government. It is headed by the secretary of transportation, who reports directly to the president of the United States and is a member of the president’s Cabinet. They are responsible for everything to do with transportation, including keeping drivers safe. As part of that mandate, the DOT has a set of regulations that are specifically designed to protect drivers and keep them safe on the roads.
Hours of Service mandates that the maximum amount of time a commercial driver can be on duty is 14 hours. Before and after each 14-hour period, drivers must be off duty for a minimum of 10 consecutive hours. The second pertinent mandate requires that many commercial drivers use electronic logging devices to ensure that they’re adhering to the Hours of Service mandates.
Electronic logging is part of a DOT mandate that regulates many American fleets. Commercial drivers in regulated industries must log their time based on the number of hours they are legally able to work in the United States, and they must use Electronic Logging Devices (often called ELDs) that DOT inspectors can access to ensure compliance.
ELDs (Electronic Logging Devices)
For businesses affected by the DOT mandate, ELDs are connected to their vehicle’s engine to record driving hours, with a screen for the driver to monitor their status and print hour logs upon inspection. While primarily designed to monitor Hours of Service, modern ELDs also provide near real-time GPS location information to a logging device or app that DOT officials can check in on.
All modern vehicles have a Controller Area Network (CAN) bus. It’s the internal computer and electronic communications system that allows different parts of the vehicle to talk to each other, including the engine, the transmission, and the brakes. As you can imagine, if something interferes with the CAN bus, it can cause significant problems down the road, which is why you must be very careful that any tracker being plugged into the OBD-II port doesn’t cause any issues to that system. Since Mojio has a decade of history working in this space, the Force solution has the most extensive vehicle data library in the industry, meaning it’s the least likely to cause a nasty surprise and affect your vehicle’s command center.
One of the many benefits of a fleet tracking system is the incredible visibility and expansive data that comes from utilizing GPS fleet tracking. However, data is only as helpful as it is comprehensible. If you can’t interpret and glean actionable insights from it, it isn’t all that meaningful. That’s why Force’s fleet tracking software includes data visualizations that are easy to understand and equip business owners with the information to make real decisions with powerful impact–no data analysis degree necessary.
Feel the full force of fleet tracking
The easiest way to dive into fleet tracking and all its benefits is to apply it to your business and let the results speak for themselves. That’s why Force offers a 30-day free trial for your fleet, and we’ll throw in our industry-leading GPS hardware for free. After 30 days, Force costs just $20 per vehicle per month with no contracts or hidden fees, and has saved small businesses thousands of dollars in their first year.