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GPS comparison: Your essential guide

GPS comparison like apples and oranges

GPS comparison: Your essential guide

When it comes to GPS comparison we could all take on the wise words of my parents.

“Always read the label carefully”, my mother always said. “Fruit juice is not the same thing as a fruit drink.” Wise words indeed.

And my father? He always said, “Never trust a pretty face”. Well my wife will tell you quite simply that he was wrong on that count. But when it comes to buying “stuff” we do tend to get so blinded by flashing lights and stylish packaging that sometimes we forget to ask the questions that really matter.

 

Finding the right GPS systems can mean asking a lot of questions you never knew you needed to. It can also mean cutting through a bunch a flashy sales jargon to find plain English explanations so you don’t end up with a system that does nothing you want it to and a million things you don’t want it to.

 

So what are the key things you need to look at when comparing GPS tracking solutions?

  • Reporting
  • Cost
  • Live tracking ability
  • Access to data

 

Let’s go through each.

 

Comparing reporting

How much reporting is too much reporting? Or not enough? Every business’ reporting needs are different and so is every tracker’s ability to meet those needs.

The thing to look for is the number of input points on the tracker.

Mid-range trackers with at least 3 input points will provide essential fleet management tools including live tracking, driver panic alarms and driver behaviour reporting.

Trackers with more than 3 input points will have the ability to report on just about anything your vehicles encounter on the road. This might include freight temperature, timesheets, Fringe Benefit Tax reporting or the ability to record driver events such as a client not being home.

Basic trackers with zero input points will give you location and that’s pretty much it.


Comparing costs

Trackers are generally more cost effective if they’re bought outright but it is possible to spread the costs over a year by renting or building it into your vehicle lease.

 

Comparing how ‘live’ your tracker is

Many people assume all trackers are ‘live’ however some will only transmit data to your platform intermittently. When you talk to your supplier here’s how to tell how frequently you’ll receive data:

  • Live: Data is updated every 60 seconds
  • Delayed: Data is updated every 15 minutes
  • Passive: Data need to be manually downloaded

 

Comparing access to data

Whilst PC based tracking software is appealing because of its price, be careful to take into consideration that it will need manual software updates that you’ll have to run yourself. It also means you can only access it from your computer which put serious limitations on receiving business critical information.

Most newer platforms are cloud based. The software is automatically updated for you and you can access the platform and all its features 24 hours a day from any device. If you have equipment, vehicles or workers that you want to keep an eye on around the clock, then this really is the best option to keep you connected.

 

Need a more direct GPS comparison? OK, let’s look at what you want your tracker to do for you and which type of tracker is best suited for the job.

 

1. Managing productivity

The right GPS tracker provides business’ with the tools to better manage dispatch, reduce lag time between jobs, better allocate resources and monitor time on site for accurate billing and staff costs. The right system will automate paperwork such as time sheets and automatically record data for logbook reporting.

 

“It’s estimated that a business with a staff of 10 could save between $4,000-$6,000 a year through workforce efficiencies using GPS fleet management systems.”

If you’re tracking multiple vehicles and looking for a system that tells you where they are, who’s driving and you’ll need either a Standard or Versatile style system. These systems give you solid vehicle and driving reporting and once they’re installed in your vehicles you can pretty much set and forget them.


2. Keep assets safe

Whether you’re in the hire business, plumbing or facilities management the theft of your large and small assets is sure to have impacted you at some stage. There’s the time it takes to recover assets, the time lost on the job, the cost of replacement and the ever increasing insurance premiums to contend with.

 

“The construction industry alone over $390 million is lost each year.”

GPS trackers with geo-fencing capabilities can stop theft before it happens, and if the worst does happen it can reduce recovery time from weeks and months to hours.

Plug n Go type system that can shift between gear as their hired out is an ideal tracker. You’re unlikely to need the extra reporting that comes with the Versatile tracker, but the geo-fencing feature will be very useful.


3. Reduce operational costs

Managing fuel costs, as I’ve discussed before, is one of the biggest challenges facing a Fleet Manager. A Versatile system can provide idle alerts as well as vehicle usage reports that can be filtered down to the individual driver, allowing managers to benchmark behaviour and provide feedback and coaching. It will also provide route planning and dispatch tools and alerts to guard against unauthorised vehicle usage.

“Field service companies that use GPS trackers see, on average, a 5% reduction in fuel costs.”


4. Tracking small assets

If you’re tracking smaller assets (bins, coffee machines, wheelchairs) GPS trackers might have the functionality, but let’s face it, their size might get in the way. The best solution? Bluetooth beacons.
Find out more about choosing the best tracker for your business with our Fast Track to GPS toolkit. Straight up GPS comparison advice with lists of common features and benefits for different trackers and why you need them.

 

Image: Flickr/MicroAssist

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