GPS technology is an unsung hero of our modern digital times, a backbone on which many innovative applications have grown to rely on. With commercial GPS companies can navigate, track and locate more effectively. GPS has been quietly changing technological landscapes in businesses across different industries. The impact is notably felt, though often understated: GPS improves efficiency, productivity and precision; ultimately helping companies save costs and maximize profitability.
GPS is at the heart of the infrastructure governing many aspects of operations in the fields of communications, transportation (courier, aviation, maritime, railways, etc.), supply chain management, farming, constructioni and more - functioning either in the capacity of precision in timing or geolocation - without which these industries couldn't modernize as effectively. These industries and many more have assets including their own fleet of vehicles, industry instruments and equipment connected with GPS.
GPS and geolocation services have made possible much of the rise of the on-demand economy, often termed the ‘Uberization’ of commerce. Consumer devices like smartphones and dedicated GPS devices have delivered GPS technology into the hands of the masses, revolutionizing how daily things can be done with increasing ease, speed and mobility. Many digital applications offer consumers services with immediacy and convenience, relying on GPS to function. At the same time, the on-demand business model offers companies the opportunity to leverage GPS technology to be more effective, lean and innovative.
These are the 10 main ways GPS saves - and makes - money for companies:
1. Increased Navigational Efficiency and Productivity
- Driver's get lost less often.
- Driver's get to their destinations more quickly.
- Traffic apps powered by GPS enable diverting around bad traffic areas.
- Dispatchers or automated services can assign closest vehicles to targets.
- Better efficiency reduces overtime needed per workweek.
- Better operational efficiencies reduce wasted materials.
GPS fleet solutions provide companies with a digital platform to efficiently manage dispatching and routing. Companies can quickly locate and dispatch vehicles closest to the point of service for maximum efficiency, especially for on-demand dispatch. Companies can also generate plans for the most efficient routes between locations for dispatches that involve making several multiple stops. Efficient dispatching saves time and lowers fuel consumption as drivers get to their destination faster in the shortest route.
While on the roads, GPS navigation helps drivers get to the destination without getting lost for direction. This is especially useful when drivers are dispatched to small roads in rural areas they may not be familiar with. Some solutions also provide current traffic conditions to help drivers estimate time of arrival, manage their schedule and reroute if necessary. When employees get ahead of schedule, it leaves them more time to complete even more work orders, improving productivity and ultimately improving profitability.
GPS fleet solutions can help keep fleet operations optimized by identifying vehicles that are stationery and deploying them accordingly. Idling can be unnecessarily costly on fuel consumption. An hour spent idling can consume up to a full gallon of fuelii. Underutilization of resources lowers ROI on assets.
GPS technology is widely used for technical precision in various businesses. It is most useful for applications that require geolocation data. One such application is in surveying and mapping in different businesses. For one, GPS precision instrument is widely used in precision farming for ‘farm planning, field mapping, soil sampling, tractor guidance, crop scouting, variable rate applications, and yield mapping’iii. With GPS solutions, farmers can quickly identify precisely where to apply pesticides and fertilizer, and then disperse them in controlled ways.
This way GPS technology help farmers employ assets to work only on the targeted land, thereby reducing labor and operational expenses and also cut unnecessary input wastages. This is because imprecision and inefficiencies in farming operation can have negative exponential impact on costs and labor as crop field can be very vast. For example, without tractor guidance, a tractor that is slightly off track inwards could result in double inputs of seeds, water, fertilizer, and pesticidesiv. This error could be costly as it means imputing resources on long strip of land across long distances that can accumulate to very large land. The error will also result in loss of production due to sub-optimal condition farmingv. Instead, farmers can rely on GPS navigation to allow tractors to drive automatically, helping farmers drive in straight lines without much effort, and work in low visibility field conditions (rain, dust, fog, and darkness).
In mining, GPS tracking is used to track mineral movements in the different level of earth, helping miners mine accurately on targeted minerals.
2. Better Accountability
- Vehicle speed and braking monitoring equals better speed consistency resulting in lower fuel consumption (reduced fuel costs is often the number one and most visible cost savings from GPS tracking).
- Less reckless driving via vehicle speed, braking and location monitoring.
- Reduces non-work related side trips with company vehicles, reducing mileage and required working hours.
- Track record of employees' locations for automatic billing and customer's audit.
GPS fleet solutions can help companies manage driving behaviors more effectively. Good driving behaviors can tremendously improve work productivity, prevent accidents, help maintain a functioning fleet, reduce chances of getting fined unnecessarily for traffic offences, and improve fuel efficiency, etc.
Companies can monitor behaviors and score performance of the fleet or the individual drivers based on predefined metrics such as: mileage, braking, acceleration, idle time, speeding, use of seat belt, etc.vi Companies can review daily report cards to identify undesired behaviors and subsequently identify drivers that need coaching and disciplining. Some solutions can automatically notify drivers to act on it immediately. For example, when drivers are on a particular site for too long or having a break too long, they may receive notification to start workingvii.
Companies can also coach drivers to be more fuel efficient by driving more consciously. For example, drivers can be trained to reduce accelerating and braking erratically to lower fuel consumption. Drivers can also be trained to drive at certain optimal speed limits to take advantage of maximum fuel efficiency. The fuel savings can be significant as a 10 mph increase in speed from 65 to 75 mph can increase a single vehicle’s fuel use by up to 20%viii.
In addition, by tracking the fleet in real time and retrospectively, companies can easily detect suspicious use of vehicles. If drivers know they are being monitored, it will deter drivers from doing side jobs and will limit unauthorized use of company vehicles for unproductive or personal use. And to better operate and manage crisis in ad hoc situations, some GPS fleet solutions offer an easy one-touch platform for managers and drivers to communicate and give live feedback to each otherix.
GPS employee tracking solutions can help improve employee accountability on work performance and compliance with company policies. It can be useful for specific cases or as part of regular company policy compliance auditing.
For example, with GPS tracking solutions, companies can verify in real time or retrospectively where employees say they are at a particular time via timestamps and geolocation records. This ensures that employees are not deliberately idling or taking long breaks during working hours.
Automatically tracking employee working activities can be useful when companies need to calculate and verify work compensation and bonus incentives accurately. It can also be used for general disciplinary purposes, for example for couriers to check drivers against route deviation, unauthorized use of assets, vehicle fuel thefts, company asset thefts and miscellaneous fraud cases.
3. Better Customer Service
- Faster arrival to client's locations.
- Customer's have access to tracking information from service providers resulting in less ambiguity.
- Customer data can contain deeper information enabling more streamlined and tailored services.
Customers increasingly have higher expectations with regards to customer service – and it is a challenge to keep up. After all, in the world of internet economy, processes move faster and more conveniently; consequently, modern customers are conditioned for instant gratification, particularly with the on-demand business model. Punctuality is important especially for businesses that involve field visits and deliveries. With many competitors available to choose from, customers can be unforgiving.
GPS fleet management help couriers dispatch more efficiently and navigate with ease without having to call the recipients for direction, thereby improving punctuality of deliveries and the overall customer experience. Furthermore, drivers can also confidently communicate with recipients directly, informing them on the schedule and confirming availability with more certainty, so that recipients are not left in the dark without information and waiting frustratingly. Indeed, surveys have shown that if the service is running late, 73% of consumers will continue to engage the company again if they had received notifications on updated arrival-timesx.
And GPS technology not only powers on-demand businesses but also complements it to provide better customer service. For example, when customers order a car on Uber, they would have an expectation for the car to arrive almost immediately. Powered by GPS, customers can see the location of the car and the estimated time of arrival which can subtly help customer adjust expectations, reducing any dissatisfaction or tensions. Trivial efforts like these can add up to protect customer service reputation.
From tracking sales promotions of consumer brands in retail stores, to tracking engineers servicing on-site customers, to tracking sales force of manufacturers distributing samples and taking ordersxi, to healthcare givers visiting patients on scheduled appointments, GPS employee tracking solutions help companies manage operations of large on-field workers, which would otherwise be overwhelming to manage without digital management platforms.
With GPS employee tracking solutions, companies can access real-time visibility into field activities and movements by tracking and monitoring field employees, in the hope of operating more efficiently and productively. Solutions like dayTrack are designed with comprehensive features to specifically assist field workers to perform tasks such as: meeting customers, distributing samples, creating sales orders that can be submitted to main office in real time, collecting payments, taking client feedback, distributing advertising material at customer's locations, tagging new client's GPS locationsxii, etc.
Companies can further record business expenses and mileage, validate movements with reports via notes and geo-tagged photos, take attendance on geo-tagged timesheets, record daily visits and their durations, access client's business history, access product lists, and access product catalog to execute marketing campaignxiii, etc. With such a platform, employees are well equipped to plan and organize the day and focus on actual conversion of sales.
4. Better Supply Chain Management
- Automatic asset tracking and Supply Chain Management (SCM) solutions minimize over and under stocking.
- GPS asset tracking and SCM help detect and correct inefficiencies in the supply chain.
- GPS SCM solutions help ensure timely and cost efficient deliveries.
It is critical to ensure consumers have access to products at all times so as to maximize sales opportunities. An efficient supply chain management helps companies manage an effective level of inventoryxiv, preventing an under or over stock situation. GPS Supply Chain Management (SCM) solutions can be used as an effective supply chain toolxv to increase chain visibility, improve punctuality and increase certainty of successful supply delivery. For example, GPS tracking detects vehicles that are broken down, helping companies manage delays and communicate such concerns to clients.
GPS Supply Chain Management (SCM) solutions can be used as an effective supply chain tool to increase chain visibility, improve punctuality and increase certainty of successful supply delivery.
With GPS SCM solutions, companies can also better understand business operation for strategic management. These solutions can gather data on inventory items, across the supply chain network, whether in transit(on truck, train, ships, planes, etc.) or in warehouses or fulfillment centers. For example, companies can use GPS tags to track specific items or containersxvi. These GPS tags can report on location, time, speed, G- force, shock and motion tamper, tilt, temperature, humidity, etc.xvii. From these data, companies can analyze and monitor the movement of their goods and status of storage environment – helping companies anticipate breakages, and unsuccessful deliveries. Consequently, companies can decide on best way to ship goods.
Some perishables, frozen or refrigerated items need to be shipped in cold storage. GPS SCM solutions for cold storage units would feature storage temperature monitoring, door status monitoring and alarms. When temperature conditions are not ideal in storage, an alert will be notified to companies. When doors are unexpectedly opened or closed, it can also trigger alerts and sound alarms to help prevent damage to goods or theftxviii. The GPS tracking of said storage helps maintenance find the issue to fix most quickly.
5. Lower Maintenance Costs
- GPS enables automatic mileage recording, keeping a closer eye on maintenance schedules.
- Better driving habits by employees via GPS tracking results in less wear and tear on vehicles.
- Advanced monitoring of vehicle status and fault code warnings can prompt preventative maintenance.
Fleet maintenance is critical to ensuring a fleet operating in top condition, to prolonging the life of vehicles and thereby enhancing ROI, and to lowering the overall maintenance costs. With GPS fleet solutions, diagnostics on vehicles can be done to assess the condition of specific vehicles via monitoring the fuel level, carbon exhaustion, odometer, fault codes in engines, etc.
Such solutions can help managers track past maintenance service done and automatically schedule the next routine maintenance or recommend specific repair schedule when necessary. Furthermore, some GPS solutions like Fleetio can help manage and monitor vehicle spare parts inventory. These inventory solutions can track and remind companies to reorder items low on stock. Managing inventory quantities can help save costs by reducing stocking and storage of unnecessary partsxix.
Moreover, some solutions like Geotab can detect potential breakdowns and give notifications in real time. They can detect engine issues in advance by monitoring the engine fault codesxx. Companies can attend to engine issues before they become costly repairs, saving on vehicle inspection time and costs and on opportunity costs due to vehicle downtime. Such savings, in the context of a large fleet can easily add up and become significant. Underutilization of vehicles can be stifling to the growth of business.
6. Lower Administrative Costs with Increased Digitalization
- Automated tracking of vehicle mileage.
- Automated recording of employee's work hours spent at customer's work sites
- Employees can automatically clock in and out of work.
GPS fleet solutions often come with digital productivity features, creating better workflow and reducing administrative work load - ultimately improving employee productivity. For example, couriers can use digital billing on work to reduce paperwork, to ultimately save time on doing mundane administrative work.
With online digital timestamp, drivers can log their worktime easily and quickly. Administrative staff can view it without having to do further manual data entry.
7. Worker Safety
- Prevention of workers working too many hours and being over legal working hours limits.
- Workers in remote areas remaining connected to the company.
Small GPS tracking devices with emergency buttons can be outfitted to field workers working in high-risk areas such as oil fields, war zones, natural disaster areas, etc. to help manage their safety. In the event of emergency, the worker can trigger the button to request a rescue mission, increasing their chances of survival.
8. Lower Insurance Premiums
Insurance premiums for an expanding fleet vehicle can quickly become significant business costs. One way to lower insurance premiums is to track fleet vehicles with GPS tracking solutions. In the US, insurance premium discounts on GPS tracked vehicles can be very attractive: AAA Insurance, Liberty Mutual and USAA Insurance offer discounts that range from 18 to 33% respectivelyxxi. Tracked vehicles are deemed to be of lower risk in many ways.
Intuitively, GPS tracking increases the chance of asset recovery while lowering the chance of vehicle theft in the first place. Without GPS tracking, stolen vehicles take time to recover or may not even be recovered. Furthermore, GPS tracking solutions can reduce likelihood of accidents through the monitoring of drivers’ behavior and detecting reckless driving. When drivers are aware they are being monitored, they are less likely to speed and drive dangerously. They will also be less likely to misuse the vehicles, and less likely to drive outside work time, reducing exposure to accident risks.
Lastly, GPS fleet solutions can help upkeep vehicle maintenance by tracking maintenance and repair schedules. A well maintained car can prevent accidents due to car tire blowout and mechanical malfunction. The lower the risk of accident translates to lower insurance premiums.
9. Theft and Loss Prevention
- GPS tracking is a theft deterrent.
- GPS tracking helpful for valuable asset recovery.
GPS tracking solutions can be a powerful tool for businesses to track expensive assets (vehicles, equipment and instrument) or high value cargo (such as novelty items, artworks, etc.) to ensure against losing them as part of risk management and anti-theft strategy. Companies can track database of assets such as vehicles and equipment in great details, recording information such as year manufactured, model, serial number, etc. This is useful for identification and verification of assets during asset recovery or for general item check.
When an asset is stolen, companies can rely on GPS trackers to easily locate where it is, greatly improving the probability of recovering stolen asset. GPS tracking decoys can also be installed to trick thieves from believing they have removed tracking devices, leaving an actual covert device intact on the assetsxxii. Geo-fencing can track assets within a certain predefined zone and get timely alerts whenever an asset is out of the zone.
Sensors can also be preset to notify companies on misuse and harsh handling of assets to warn against possible abuse of assets or theft. For example, sensors can automatically alert companies if a door of a vehicle has been forcefully opened. In addition, fingerprint readers can be installed to verify and validate the identification of the personnel using the asset.
10. The Future
The world is at the advent of mass automated delivery by robots and drones, made possible by artificial intelligence and GPS technology. Domino’s Robotic Unit (DRU)xxiii has started pilot delivery their pizzas with robots while Amazon Prime Airxxiv is in mature stages of piloting drone parcel deliveries. We can expect these technologies to go main stream soon. Automation offers many advantages: it can be efficient and economical. For example, drone and robot deliveries can be integrated with systems in fulfillment centers to deliver goods automatically upon orders, throughout the day and night. Drones can also fly almost anywhere in the shortest route.
In fact, retailers are also trying to manage supply chain better with automation. For example, there are now smart fridges with sensors that can automatically detect and be set to reorder milk when it is running out. And these can be sent out with drones and robots.
Robots and drones are also more economical than human resources especially for non-skilled based chores and low value deliveries. Employees can be costly to maintain in the long run as costs of labor including employment benefits continue to rise. On the other hand, robots and drones are becoming cheaper to use as the technology matures and become main stream. Automation can be more productive and a better investment than human resource in the long run as machines can work 24 hours and belong to the company for as long as its service life.
GPS technology is an endless source for innovation transforming the many ways businesses are modernizing. In the process, GPS helps businesses save on costs, become more efficient and improve their services in many ways. This is particularly evident on its impact on the logistics businesses and in fleet management. In fact, GPS technology is a core part of infrastructure in transportation and communications, including the very foundations of what makes the digital economy work. As more businesses become digitalized, more processes will involve the need to process geolocation data, and we shall see an ever increasing use of GPS technology.
- GPS Application, Nov 25, 2014, http://www.gps.gov/applications/
- Jessica Stoddard, 7 Ways GPS Tracking Makes You a Better Fleet Manage, Sep 12, 2016 http://www.linxup.com/blog/7-ways-gps-tracking-makes-better-fleet-manager/
- Agriculture, 12 October 2016, http://www.gps.gov/applications/agriculture/
- Peter Murray, Precision Agriculture High Technology Invades the Farm, 13 Mar 2011, https://singularityhub.com/2011/03/13/precision-agriculture-high-technology-invades-the-farm/
- Peter Murray
- Carol Birkland, How fleets are gathering data for better asset management, http://www.fleetequipmentmag.com/fleets-gathering-better-asset-management/
- Carol Birkland
- Jessica Stoddard
- GPS tracking features, http://www.titangps.ca/gps-tracking-features/
- Krysten Powers, Study Shows How GPS, Dispatching Software Can Improve Efficiency , April 20, 2015, http://blog.hcss.com/study-shows-how-gps-dispatching-software-can-improve-efficiency
- dayTrack - Sales Employee Tracking App, http://www.daytrack.in/android-mobile-app-based-sales-employee-location-order-tracking-service.html
- Integrating supply chain management (SCM) and global positioning system (GPS) FAQ, http://searchmanufacturingerp.techtarget.com/feature/Integrating-supply-chain-management-SCM-and-global-positioning-system-GPS-FAQ
- Using GPS Tracking as a Supply Chain Tool, 26 August, 2013, https://www.geotab.com/blog/using-gps-tracking-as-a-supply-chain-tool/
- Supply Chain Tracking & Security, http://www.tracks360.com/tracking-applications/supply-chain-tracking-gps-tracking-devices-damage-logger-gps-tracking/
- Supply Chain Tracking & Security, http://www.tracks360.com/tracking-applications/supply-chain-tracking-gps-tracking-devices-damage-logger-gps-tracking/
- Cold Chain Transportation Management Systems, http://www.bofan.cc/gps-industries/cold-chain-transportation-management-systems
- Parts inventory management, https://www.fleetio.com/solutions/inventory-management
- Optimize Your Fleet & Fuel Efficiency, https://www.geotab.com/fleet-management-solutions/fleet-optimization/
- Reduce Insurance Costs by using Insurance GPS Tracking, https://www.telogis.com/blog/cheaper-insurance-gps-fleet-tracking
- GPS Tracking Decoy Device, http://www.goldstargps.com/gps-tracking-decoy
- DRU – Dominos’s Robotic Unit, https://www.dominos.com.au/inside-dominos/technology/dru
- Amazon Prime Air, https://www.amazon.com/Amazon-Prime-Air/b?node=8037720011