Leveraging GPS Tracking for Automated Fleet Maintenance - Global Trade Magazine
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  January 12th, 2022 | Written by

Leveraging GPS Tracking for Automated Fleet Maintenance

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  • Fleet managers and dispatchers can use the information to improve their decision-making.
  • An automated preventive maintenance strategy can help any business keep its fleet on the road.
  • This data can help managers identify behaviors that harm vehicle health the most.

Maintenance is one of the most important parts of fleet management. A good maintenance strategy can help a business cut repair costs, improve fuel efficiency, and eliminate vehicle downtime.

Scheduling vehicle maintenance can be difficult, however, especially for businesses that don’t know exactly where their fleet vehicles are.

GPS tracking technology is one of the best tools that fleet managers can use to streamline maintenance — or even completely automate it.

Why Businesses Use GPS Tracking for Fleet Management

GPS tracking is a fleet tracking strategy that uses networked GPS systems to provide managers with the real-time location of each vehicle in the fleet. Location data is often used to streamline scheduling and routing, allowing administrators to make more informed decisions when they need to dispatch a vehicle or schedule a new job.

GPS data may also enable a system to track driver behavior, including unnecessary idling, speeding, and harsh braking events. This information can be provided to fleet managers and dispatchers, as well as passed on directly to drivers.

Fleet managers and dispatchers can use the information to improve their decision-making while drivers can learn more about their own habits and practices — allowing them to identify potential areas of improvement.

These tools are popular among businesses in parts of the country where idling laws may mean hefty fines for businesses that allow drivers to leave vehicles idling. They are also frequently used by businesses that want to track and reduce dangerous driving habits that can harm vehicle health, reduce fuel economy, and make drivers less safe.

The benefits of a GPS tracking system can vary from business to business, but most will see noticeable improvements to vehicle fuel efficiency, overall driving hours, driver behavior, compliance, and safety.

Many GPS tracking systems are also part of a larger telematics system that can provide managers with even more fleet data. These systems may also include dashboards and data visualization tools that help fleet managers better understand the data they’ve collected.

With the right solution, it can be much easier to predict fleet expenses and implement new business policies that help improve fleet performance.

Automating Maintenance With GPS Tracking

The most effective maintenance strategies are preventive. Long before small problems with a vehicle become serious issues, the business takes action to keep the vehicle in the best operating condition possible.

For example, a business may hire a mechanic to regularly inspect brakes, check oil levels, change filters, or check tire tread. These simple checks allow businesses to prevent most common vehicle issues, like brake failure, frequently seen in vehicles like semi-trucks or tractor-trailers when they’re not properly maintained.

The simplest maintenance tasks aren’t usually expensive or time-consuming, and they can help keep vehicles on the road while providing other benefits — like better fuel economy and a lower risk of breaking down.

Preventive maintenance can be hard to implement, however — especially for businesses that have relied on a reactive maintenance strategy in the past.

The time and money needed for preventive maintenance are usually repaid over time, as maintenance reduces the need for repairs or the frequency of breakdowns. Typically, preventive maintenance only becomes challenging when a business doesn’t have enough information on its vehicles, drivers, or maintenance providers.

This information could be a shipping estimate on essential replacement parts, a mechanic’s availability, or the current status of fleet vehicles.

Without the right information, fleet managers can struggle to coordinate the different parts of a preventive maintenance strategy — like the business’s mechanics, tools, replacement components, or the vehicles themselves.

How GPS Tracking Makes Maintenance Automation Possible

GPS tracking provides a valuable source of information on fleet vehicles’ location and driving conditions. The system is continuously updating managers on the position of each vehicle and how drivers are operating those vehicles.

With a GPS tracking solution, it’s typically possible to create automatic maintenance alerts that instantly notify managers when maintenance is needed.

These maintenance alerts are customizable, meaning managers can configure them to appear after a certain number of hours have passed, or when a vehicle passes a number of miles driven.

Many of these solutions also track how employees are driving their vehicles, allowing managers to draw connections between driver behaviors, maintenance costs, and specific repairs.

This data can help managers identify behaviors that harm vehicle health the most, allowing them to track driver behavior and maximize vehicle lifespan while minimizing maintenance costs.

A more advanced system could also provide additional benefits — for example, by automatically scheduling maintenance when it’s needed. Using information from the GPS trackers, the system could automatically schedule maintenance and generate a route to the maintenance garage based on the vehicle’s current location, the driver’s job status, and the distance to nearby maintenance locations.

Over time, information from GPS tracking systems can also help managers understand their fleet’s schedule. With this data, managers can know exactly when business tends to be slow or when specific vehicles are available, allowing them to schedule maintenance in a way that won’t disrupt work.

They may also be able to provide better availability estimates to customers and help their team dispatch vehicles more effectively.

For businesses that have struggled with creating driver schedules or meeting client needs, these tools could help them create better schedules for their team, making it easier to dispatch drivers and complete jobs.

Integrating GPS With Other Maintenance Automation Tools

Fleet managers that benefit from using GPS to automate fleet maintenance will probably also benefit from many of the other fleet maintenance automation tools available.

Many of these tools are built with technology like GPS tracking in mind, meaning they may integrate easily with existing GPS tracking solutions or be able to utilize the real-time data these solutions provide.

For example, a comprehensive telematics and maintenance automation system may be able to provide managers with automatic alerts based on both miles driven and data collected by vehicle components — like tire pressure sensors, brake system sensors, and the engine control unit.

Using GPS to Improve and Automate Fleet Maintenance

An automated preventive maintenance strategy can help any business keep its fleet on the road. Implementing preventive maintenance without the right information may be difficult, however.

GPS tracking systems provide real-time updates on fleet vehicle locations that managers can use to make preventive maintenance much more practical. These tools can also help managers identify reckless driving or bad habits, like idling.

Combined with other maintenance and telematics solutions, GPS tracking can also help make automating maintenance much easier. The right solution can provide automatic notices when a vehicle hits a major milestone or number of hours driven.