Every business that dabbles in the logistics and fleet management wants to increase its productivity and traceability. And, of course, the GPS technology is a perfect tool for the job. Global Positioning System (or GPS) is a satellite tracking system that is increasingly used in businesses for commercial and personal purposes. The benefits of using GPS are wide ranging and provide a multitude of competitive advantages in a crowded marketplace. To understand what GPS can do for your business, we offer you to dive into a sea of GPS tracking and monitoring solutions and business-productivity tools engineered to help with your logistical woes.
How Does GPS-Tracking Help A Business?
GPS monitoring allows you to collect a large amount of different reliable data points for reports and statistics. This innovative technology assists with tracking resources, and in many study cases allows for a full return on investment in just a few months. Today, with low cost entry point as well as all of the benefits and conveniences that GPS tracking brings, it has become an essential part of many logistical businesses. It solves several problems and increases general business efficiency. Here are just a few things that GPS can offer to your organization:
- Constant 2-way communication with your fleet;
- Optimization of your logistical operations;
- Increase of security;
- Reduction of administrative resources;
- Monitoring of driving safety and behavior;
- Quantifiable improvement of performance and efficiency;
- Cost analysis;
- Theft prevention;
- Audits of mileage, driving speed, and fuel consumption;
- Improvement of client satisfaction by the way of increasing quality of customer support.
GPS tracking solutions
Nowadays, the increasing choice of the GPS hardware and software packages and the ability to choose the complete GPS tracking solution is greater than ever before. The essentials are all there to carefully consider in order to find the exact fit for your business needs.
Use ready-made solutions
Begin your search by looking at the ready-made solution from the top providers in the industry. 2020 has a lot to offer in this regards:
- Azuga – This GPS fleet tracking includes driver visibility, gamification, rewards, and tools to improve the operations. The service provides a full picture of the road’s situation and fleet status, including such details as idling, stops, speed, hard braking, and the possibility of risks and accidents. It also allows you to see the updates on vehicle health and diagnostics. The software is easy to install, and it suits all types of businesses and enterprises.
- GPS Trackit – This tracking software is perfect for businesses that would like to try their first GPS tracking system. It provides flexible solutions with no required long-term contracts and a 30-day money-back guarantee. GPS Trackit stands out as a service with high reliability for a reasonable price. It offers a range of safety reports including, but not limited to video telematics, temperature monitoring, driver behavior reporting, and other critical metrics.
- Qaurtix – With Quartix, your business can be up to date with real-time metrics and increase fleet productivity. It allows for fuel consumption analysis, fleet live tracking, driver analysis, vehicle history, engine hours monitoring, and many more. All these metrics are great for those who would like to boost their analytics. Quick web access and precise controls make the system very simple to use. The provider boldly claims that you will love the solution so much, you’ll stick with them for years to come.
Integration your services with third-party logistics companies (UPS, UPSP, FedEx)
Another possible avenue is to look for the development or purchase of ready-made modules that integrate with your existing ERP, WMS, or other software packages that you already run in your organization. The logistics industry is growing, and so is the number of delivery companies. FedEx, Railway Express Agency, UPS, Trucking companies of the United States are some of the most popular in the USA but there are many others. That’s why nowadays, there are many ready-made specific logistical software solutions that integrate with these popular delivery services. These may cover some if not all of your tracking & analytical needs.
SenseAware from FedEx
SenseAware offers to rent GPS trackers for each package. This allows you to track not just the transport, but the parcel itself. In addition to tracking, there are options of monitoring temperature and humidity, as well as keeping tabs on how many times and where the parcel was opened.
All information is available through the web interface. Unfortunately, there is no API for integration with other software.
What does USPS offer?
USPS also uses GPS to track packages,
but it processes it in a slightly different way. During each scan of a barcode, the scanner transmits the coordinates. UPS does not stop there, though. Since 2010 UPS has equipped all of its last mile delivery vehicles with GPS sensors and now provides its customers with the Follow my delivery service. This allows UPS customers to track parcel deliveries in real time, which can be especially useful for eCommerce B2B customers.
As we can see, not all delivery services provide every available GPS tracking function. But if you decide to integrate these solutions into your ERP, we advise you to pay close attention to a few very important points:
- Does this module support all the services you need, including FedEx, UPS, DHL, UPSP, etc.?
- Will you get all the necessary information through this module? Make a list of the information you need and make sure the solution meets your needs.
- How often is the module updated? Do developers of this module keep up with the ERP updates in a timely manner? For example, when ERP releases its update – how long does it take to receive an update for your delivery service module?
From our own experience I can bring up a case where the FiduciaSoft engineering team had to integrate Acumatica ERP with a DHL delivery service. This case doesn’t show the GPS integration but is very good as an example of implementing delivery tracking with an ERP. Our US based client was shipping goods to its European clients via DHL, but the ready-made solutions that existed for Acumatica didn’t cover DHL service, thus falling short for this client’s requirements. Here is an example how careful examination of your “must have” list and comparing those to existing marketplace solutions can reveal a shortcoming.
Does Amazon or Walmart provide GPS tracking for parcels?
Recently, it became popular to sell your products through 3rd party online marketplaces such as Amazon, Walmart, and others. Some marketplaces deliver orders on their own, while others use third-party delivery services. And depending if you’re utilizing your own warehousing, or employ other distribution companies in a 3PL arrangement, tracking client orders and individual parcels can quickly become a really complicated task. If tracking information can also be imported into your ERP or CRM and extend to your eCommerce solution, it can be extremely beneficial in improving your client’s experience as well as make wonders for your customer service department. Most of the marketplaces have deployed APIs that potentially allows their B2B customers to integrate with their system to update or track order status.
Developing custom GPS tracking system
Large companies with specific demands often ask for custom software development for critical functions. For example, in one of our cases, we developed GPS tracking for Telecom Company. In these next few paragraphs we’ll try to explore how to get started on the development of your ideal GPS tracking system.
How to choose a GPS-tracker
Checking specifications of a GPS-trackers
To understand how to choose the GPS tracker, you need to understand how the device works and what primary functions it is capable of supporting. There are different kinds of GPS trackers, but you have to check if it fits your environment, intended purposes, and your desired specifications. Most tracking softwares offer various features, but some are considered to be the standard. They include:
- Integration with fuel checks
- Tracking of driver safety
- Dashboards with key metrics reports
- Delivery and navigation
- Data processing server
- Customer support
- Alert system
- Real-time tracking
Some hardware vendors also offer additional options for an extra cost that may include mobile access, geo-fence zone features, alerts for driving behavior, excessive speeding, entering unwanted geographical areas, various mapping features, etc.
GPS tracker vendors often offer their own software to go with the hardware. The true benefits for you business then would be to integrate GPS tracking data together with business data and get a full picture of your logistics in one easy to access format. Otherwise, logging in to different services and manually compiling your reports where you combine your GPS data with your Customer order data can be cumbersome and timely.
While choosing the GPS Vendor, look for how easy it is to programmatically access their own services (Programming API’s, others) to complete such integration.
There are various types of integrations and data access techniques:
- API’s: With APIs, the data about your fleet can be pushed between the servers and backend systems, like ERP, CRM, WMS, Dispatch, etc. For this kind of integration, you need a specialist on your end with a good knowledge of systems.
- Map overlays: These are GIS (geographic information system) maps that stores in a platform’s mapping. It allows you to observe the power lines and your fleet at the same time.
- Data connect: This kind of integration requires high technical expertise and includes custom development and programming to ensure your apps’ communication. Some businesses don’t use this integration, as it results in an abundance of received data.
- Data dump: It is used to transfer the information into two systems and connect them to the user’s final report. For example, If you need to get a telematics data report, all the telematics data will be sent to the GPS tracking provider and put together with the location data.
Development and implementation of GPS tracking
Determination of needs and creating a list of tasks
While considering different GPS vendors and tracking options, It is vital to list out all of the needs your business has and carefully compare which GPS selection fits those needs. The timeline, costs and terms of your project will depend greatly on your choice in this very step.
While thinking of the ideal solution for your business, you may apply different approaches:
- Identify the level of automation in day-to-day operations and in data collection that you would like to see. Then, start thinking of how much tracking you want to do along each step of the order lifetime and how much automation you want to see.
- Think about different levels of automation that you want to see. How about having inventory scanned on the floor by the workers with a mobile device? This automation level separates one modern logistical software, manufacturing solution, or warehouse management system from another.
- Make a list of things you’d need your systems to support that you cannot live without. Make a separate list of automation options you’d like to see in your day to day operations.
- Bring it all together and shop for the off-the-shelf logistical software solutions that closely fit both “must-have” and “automation” lists, taking into account your “running” costs- yearly support fees, subscription fees, maintenance fees, as well as downtime for patches, upgrades, etc.
Development cost and implementation
The final cost of GPS tracking and monitoring software greatly depends on the choice of features you would like to implement and the number of vehicles that the system will support. In general terms if you found an off-the-shelf software that fits your needs perfectly, be prepared to spend around $10,000 for such a solution. If you plan to develop a multi-functional GPS tracking software, be it in-house or with a qualified development partner, it will take anywhere from $40,000 all the way up to $150,000. The complex development solutions can take more than a year, but you can first start with implementing most needed pieces first and progress further into the weeds later on.
Apart from the development, get ready for the product maintenance cost. You need to find a team experienced with logistics software development (shameless plug), GPS tracking system development, and a quality management service. As each case is individual, we advise you to define your needs clearly and carefully document them into BRD (Business Requirements Document). In the end, you need to be sure that the development partner you’ve chosen shares your vision, budget, timeline, and specifications.
FiduciaSoft provides a wide variety of product development, customization, and integration services in such industries as e-commerce, warehouse management, manufacturing management, and automation, and many others. We will be glad to become your development partner.
As our clients will attest, FiduciaSoft team is extremely competent in delivering customized ERP software plugins and modules for Acumatica, Sage 100, Sage 300, Sage 500, MS Dynamics AX, and MS Dynamics 365. You can read more about our experience of customizations for Acumatica in the «cases» section on our website. And if you have similar projects, let’s discuss them and find the best solutions for your next project!