Big Data puts fleet managers in the driver's seat.
Big Data puts fleet managers in the driver’s seat.

Fleet managers are well-aware of the shifting technological landscape their industry is undergoing. From ELDs and truck platooning to autonomous commercial vehicles and application-based software, there’s a completely new playing field.

But if some of the more futuristic technology concepts are still years away for the average fleet, there’s one that is in near-ubiquitous use: geofencing.

What is geofencing?

Geofencing is a tactic that uses geo-location (GPS) data to project a virtual fence. The pre-set fence, or boundary, serves as a geographical perimeter for fleets operating in a given area. Each driver, load or pickup is typically assigned a zone.

Using a chip or terminal installed in the truck engine, location data is collected and transmitted to the back office. This allows fleet managers to know exactly where drivers are, when they arrived and how long a delivery took, among other indicators. Additionally, managers receive real-time alerts if a driver goes outside his or her boundary (geofence).

Track trucks, trailers and theft

Geofencing’s primary benefit is that managers obtain real-time oversight of the cargo on the road, the drivers delivering it and the trucks hauling it.

In effect, the distance between the field and the back office is shortened considerably, meaning you have the data you need, when you need it. This level of transparency and insight enables you to make quick decisions, process manifest information, identify inefficiencies and ensure all drivers are operating at full capacity.

But geofencing isn’t just a driver- or tractor-level data capture machine; it’s also an effective deterrent against cargo theft. Statistics published in the American Journal of Transportation show there were 836 instances of cargo theft in 2016. When factoring in supply chain fraud, heavy commercial vehicle theft and other criminal intelligence events, there were actually 1,614 total recorded thefts.

The average financial loss resulting from theft is roughly $207,000 per shipment.

Fleets need visibility into each truck's unique data.Fleets need visibility into each truck’s unique data.

By designating geo zones through GPS, fleets are immediately notified if a truck enters a restricted zone or if unauthorized vehicle activity occurs, which means all assets can be carefully tracked and protected. Armed with this information, you can quickly notify the proper authorities and recoup stolen cargo should thieves intend to make off with a load. This type of intelligence simply wasn’t possible a decade ago.

Isolate time management and accounting failures

Most fleets employ or contract a number of technicians, specialists and drivers that are out in the field for long stretches of time. Simple clerical errors like inputting incorrect data into log sheets, misreporting time-in/time-out or forgetting to communicate updates to the back office can lead to cost overruns and fleetwide revenue leaks.

Geofencing’s virtual boundaries enhance uptime and provide a documented data set to cross-reference should time/pay discrepancies arise.

Automate in-cab driver responsibilities

For drivers, the tedious work of time validation, data transmission and paperwork is reduced through optimized geo-location software.

“You gather data every second, so there’s truly no limit to how this information can be analyzed and leveraged for additional growth opportunities.”

Depending on the functionality and integration potential, geofencing can be paired with additional back-office systems that work seamlessly from the rack to the pump. Processes run more smoothly, communication is quicker and cash flow is automated.

End to end, your operation is in high gear at all times.

Future intelligence through data

It should be noted that intelligence gathered through geofencing and similar ancillary software systems is perpetual: You gather data every second, so there’s truly no limit to how this information can be analyzed and leveraged for additional growth opportunities.

Geofencing data provides the capacity to organize, segment and rank key details, which allows fleet managers to see where they are performing best and where business can be improved. The ROI from optimized route planning, stronger organizational and labor workflows, increased driver accountability and integrated delivery management is infinite in this sense.

Sounds like a win-win, right?

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