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What is trailer tracking and why do you need it?

What is trailer tracking and why do you need it?

GPS trailer tracking gives you an instantaneous overview of your trailer fleet, can help reduce theft and unauthorized use, and can help increase asset utilization.

  • Trailer tracking devices are battery-powered and work in all kinds of weather
  • Most devices work internationally for fleets that enter Canada or Mexico
  • Real-time tracking means dispatchers know exactly where their trailers are located 24/7

Why track your assets?

Your trailers and the accompanying cargo they carry are some of the most valuable assets your company has. Knowing where they are at any given moment is paramount to an efficient operation. A trailer tracking system can do just that.

From a small fleet to one with thousands of trailers, trailer tracking systems can instantly let you know location and other critical data using GPS technology. Depending on your needs, the data can be transmitted in real-time, or on a predetermined set of time intervals.

What are trailer tracking systems and how do they work?

Trailer fleets are growing. As of 2019, approximately seven million trailers are scattered throughout North America and that number is expected to grow by about seven percent over the next five years.

Commercial trailer tracking systems generally consist of two elements

The first is a battery or solar-powered device attached to the trailer itself which emits a GPS tracking signal that communicates with the backend through the use of a cell modem. This allows the user to ascertain where the trailer is at any given moment.

The second part of the system is the software on the receiving end, which can translate the signal from the trailer tracker graphically onto a map, showing the exact location, whether the trailer is stationary or moving, and in some cases, whether or not it is tethered to a vehicle.

Fleet managers understand the importance of providing real-time visibility of their trailers whether they’re in the yard or on the road. The use of trailer tracker hardware and software can not only make their job easier, but it can also improve the company’s bottom line.

Why asset tracking is important

Asset tracking is carried out with the goal of improving the use and security of valuable items, in this case, your trailer fleet and the valuable cargo they carry. In addition, routine physical audits are required by many companies to ensure that their finance departments can verify the existence of all of the assets listed on their balance sheets. Companies that fail to track assets correctly could be losing vast sums of money on an annual basis.

Theft of trailers and their cargo costs corporate victims huge amounts of money. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NCIB) estimates that equipment losses in 2017 were upwards of half a billion dollars.

Trailer tracking modernization

It wasn’t that long ago when trailer fleets were counted by hand. Employees would have to go out into the fleet yard and manually write down the trailer number, note where it was located, and record any cargo that was onboard. That meant less time for asset utilization, which in turn means less time on the road making money for the company.

If trailers were on the road, manual counting was more difficult and often required phone or radio calls to give a general location. If a trailer was unaccounted for, very often days passed before the company could find out if it was in transit or perhaps even stolen.

Electronic trailer tracking systems changed all that.

What trailer tracking options are available?

When it comes to deciding on a trailer tracking system, many factors are at play, and most of them affect cost. For example, if real-time tracking isn’t critical to your fleet, a money-saving option may be to choose a battery-powered system that sends back location reports on an hourly basis, or even less frequently.

On the other hand, if real-time reporting is critical, premium solutions are solar or battery-powered and reported in real-time.

The many different options available for trailer tracking devices depend on the brand you choose and may include:

  • A cloud-based system
  • Tracking in real-time, every few minutes or once-a-day
  • Fully weatherproofed devices
  • Battery-only trackers
  • Rechargeable trackers with tethered options
  • Movement-based
  • Low-cost monitoring options
  • Detect cargo changes
  • Interface with Google Maps
  • Movement and geofence alerts
  • Internal antenna for concealed installation to thwart tampering
  • Over-the-air programming and firmware updates
  • 4G Network to allow for use in the US, Canada and Mexico
  • Can handle any weather conditions
  • API Integration with your systems
  • Certification by wireless carriers to ensure reliability
  • Accelerometer for motion sensing and reporting
  • Historical views for retroactive tracking
  • iOS and Android compatibility
  • External power with battery backup
  • Solar-powered
  • Geofencing

For those unfamiliar with geofencing and its applications for trailer tracking, it’s very simple.

A geofence is an invisible barrier set up by using GPS coordinates around a selected area. Predetermined geofences can be set up around your trailer storage areas or other venues so if a trailer ends up outside of the specified area, the departure will trigger an electronic alert at the dispatch office.

This is tremendously helpful in reducing loss by theft, since most trailer trackers will transmit in real-time, letting the dispatcher know that a trailer is not where is it supposed to be. That information can be used to help recover the asset.

When your trailer is sitting idle, it’s not delivering cargo and making money for your fleet. Trailer tracking technology tells you when your trailer is unloaded, when the door opens, and what the load capacity is.

These capabilities allow you to let your drivers know when their trailer is ready to go. The end result is the creation of more efficient and intelligent strategies that better utilize driver time. This can not only increase profits, but it can also reduce the amount of time spent deliberating whether the trailer is actually ready to roll.

More benefits of trailer tracking

The use of a reliable trailer tracking system can deliver so many benefits to a fleet of any size. Most importantly, it can provide essential information to trailer operators on several different fronts, including trailer status, location, door activity, history and scores of other options, depending on the device chosen.

Trailer tracking systems use the information sent back to the dispatcher to provide reliable and protected services to shippers of anything from construction materials to perishable commodities.

Why asset tracking matters

Trailer (and cargo) management is an integral part of your company’s supply chain operations. Lost or late cargo translates into lost dollars. By integrating your trailer tracking and management system into your entire enterprise systems, management can have a better and clearer picture of exactly where everything is, and where it is going.

Trailer tracking can also prevent mix-ups that might occur when drivers pick up the incorrect trailer. This not only prevents embarrassment when the wrong trailer is delivered to the customer, it can also save the money you would have spent retrieving the correct trailer and repeating the route.

Those are not the only benefits derived from a trailer tracking system. Other benefits may include:

  • Lower insurance rates due to aiding in trailer theft recovery
  • Ease of installation and configuration of the system on both ends (at the trailer itself and at the dispatch office)
  • Most systems have battery life that ranges from two to five years; some systems have solar-recharge that offers virtually unlimited life
  • The best trailer tracking systems are ruggedized and sealed, meaning they will work in even the harshest weather and road conditions without needing service, maintenance or replacement
  • Software upgrades can be done over-the-air and do not require removal of the device
  • Asset usage is optimized. Fleet operators can take on more new business if they know exactly where their trailers are.
  • Increase asset and cargo security
  • Monitor unauthorized use of trailers
  • Increase driver and tractor productivity
  • View a detailed list of trailers that are in your yard
  • Improve customer service with accurate and timely information

Trailer tracking companies

In addition to KeepTruckin, several other companies provide trailer tracking equipment and services. Some serve their local markets, while others are nationwide.

When you evaluate providers, look for one that meets your specific needs. You will need to ask yourself and your colleagues some important questions as to what equipment and services you will need, and which ones aren’t as critical.

For example, if your fleet is strictly local, you may not need to pay for a system that is designed to work across North America.

On the other hand, if you have a big fleet that covers a large geographical area, you may want a trailer tracking system that can handle a large number of vehicles and a wider monitoring zone.

Other important considerations:

  • How often do you want reports? Real-time, every few minutes, every hour?
  • What conditions will the device be operating in?
  • Where will the device be mounted?
  • What software features do you want?
  • Do you value having a single platform to track both your vehicles and your trailers?

The most important thing to remember is to choose a company with a track record of success.

KeepTruckin’s Asset Gateway provides many of the benefits we discussed earlier, such as the ability to geofence, real-time alerts, continuous operation either by solar-powered batteries or drawing power from the trailer itself, and fully ruggedized construction designed for trucking stresses and outdoor use in various types of weather.

The best trailer tracking devices

The best tracking devices are ones that have the following features:

  • 24/7 real-time location tracking
  • Theft detection
  • Easy installation
  • Long battery life
  • Solar-power
  • Instant reporting capability
  • Over-the-air serviceability
  • FCC and wireless carrier certification
  • Cloud-based system
  • Interface with mapping systems such as Google Maps or other product
  • Historical view capability

KeepTruckin seamlessly connects vehicles, drivers and management with state-of-the-art trailer tracking technology. Give us a call at 844-325-9230 or send us an email at support@keeptruckin.com.

Our 24/7 active customer support team is always available to help you.

Author


Jeff Miller

Jeff Miller is an award-winning writer in the energy and transportation industries, a playwright and actor/director, and the author of an Amazon Top 100 book. He is certified by the Department of Homeland Security and Michigan State University in Incident Management and Crisis Communications. He and his wife Beth (also a writer) live in Texas.


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