According to Automotive Fleet Magazine, fleets of 300 or more tend to adopt GPS tracking systems more frequently than smaller fleets. However, while smaller fleet owners may be reluctant to make the investment, the savings over time in terms of reduced maintenance, improved route efficiency, and higher driver safety will more than pay for themselves.
While many vendors provide all-in-one hardware plus software solution packages, a growing trend is to provide software that works on common smartphone/tablet platforms or retail GPS consumer devices. This could be an ideal approach for a small-to-medium business that doesn't have complex logistical routes and/or a large number of vehicles.
Keep in mind that cellular-based systems are most effective in urban areas. Satellite systems are preferred when a vehicle travels out of cellular network ranges. There are also hybrid systems with both options.
Here are a few general tips to consider when selecting a GPS tracking system that will best fit your needs.
How are you going to use it?
What kind of environmental conditions does your fleet operate under? For example, do you need water-resistant cases for the devices? How frequently do you need reports? (The number and frequency of reports help you determine both hardware and software needs.)
Are you getting a charge out of it (what type of battery)?
You want a long battery life. Most external battery packs operate for weeks at a time. Options for extending battery life include extended-life batteries (which also carry extended costs, but may still be less expensive than repeatedly replacing cheaper batteries) or technologically more sophisticated batteries that "go to sleep" when not in use.
What is your budget?
Keeping in mind that a GPS fleet tracking system can pay for itself with improved cost efficiency, be aware that a fully integrated system can cost several thousand dollars. When you're spending that kind of money, look for a reputable dealer that can provide you with extended-service agreements and warranties, as well as on-site and telephone technical support.
There are numerous vendors to choose from in this industry, as well as solutions for vehicle fleets of all sizes. The checklist below can help you keep track of what different vendors offer.