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What is a GPS Fleet Management System?

By J.M. Densing
Updated May 23, 2024
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A Global Positioning System (GPS) fleet management system is a network that allows the vehicles in a fleet to be tracked via satellite and with the results available to company supervisors in real time. Each vehicle has a device, sometimes referred to as a "black box," that receives signals from GPS satellites to pinpoint the location; it then transmits the data wirelessly over the Internet, where it can be viewed by the fleet's management staff. In addition to location data, most types of GPS fleet management system variants are capable of keeping track of a variety of other vehicle information including speed, fuel consumption, and engine idling. This information can enable fleet managers to maximize the use of each vehicle.

The primary purpose of a GPS fleet management system is to help the owners or managers of a fleet keep track of where their vehicles are and what they are doing. It can be used in any type of vehicle; examples include public transportation such as buses, delivery services, or taxi cabs. A GPS fleet management system is also very useful in the operation of emergency services, such as police, fire, or ambulances, to enable dispatchers to determine which vehicles are the closest to the location of an incident and can respond quickest.

Each vehicle tracked with a GPS fleet management system has a device placed inside it capable of acting as both a receiver and a transmitter. The device receives data from GPS satellites to pinpoint the location of the vehicle. Acting as a wireless modem, the device also transmits this data along with additional information on cellular networks. The information is then processed in a central location and posted on the Internet for access. This process happens within seconds so that the data is available to the fleet managers in "real time."

Along with the location of the vehicle, the GPS fleet management system is also usually able to monitor and transmit other information including the speed the vehicle is traveling, fuel consumption, amount of time spent idling or turned off, and when the engine is started. This data can be analyzed by fleet managers to evaluate the use of each vehicle and ensure that each one is being operated properly and earning maximum income. It can also keep track of employees while they're on the clock and prevent unauthorized operation of the fleet's vehicles. Some systems are also able to track mechanical information about a vehicle's performance; this can determine when maintenance and repairs should be scheduled, thereby reducing vehicle downtime.

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