How Easy Is It To Install Fleet Tracking?

As your fleet grows and expands, you may decide to transition to Telematics for fleet tracking. Telematics refers to the technology used in transmitting digital information through long distances, such as GPS tracking. This technology is beneficial for fleets because it allows management to oversee all vehicles at all times from a single screen.

However, before you start purchasing your GPS tracking devices, let’s look at the nuances that go into device selection and installation and which options are best for the type of business you want to run.

Preparing Your Business For A Fleet Tracking System

Before you start thinking about GPS tracker installation for your vehicles, you must first ensure that your company is ready for GPS tracking. You can’t decide one day to install GPS trackers without any preparation. As a result, you may lose out on the many benefits it can give you. To fully prepare for GPS tracking integration, here are some points you need to consider first:

  • What are your goals for GPS tracking? No company uses GPS tracking simply because they feel like it. What are your main reasons for using GPS? Is it to oversee your drivers? Is it to determine inefficiencies in your business processes? The goals you have should define the additional steps you take.
  • GPS tracking provides a lot of data for fleet managers. Before installing your trackers, create metrics that will determine your new standards for your company. Common metrics will include vehicle activity, idle time, driver work hours, driver safety score, and vehicle efficiency score. Decide what numbers are acceptable for your company.
  • Decide on the people who will oversee the new system. As a fleet manager, you are the obvious first choice. Still, fleet managers have a lot of responsibility and may not have the time to check the GPS tracking app all the time. Next, decide who will assist you in overseeing the tracking map. If your company is data-driven, you should also think about hiring a data analyst to help you organize and consolidate GPS data.

Once your company is prepared for GPS integration, it is time to start looking into GPS devices.

Different Types of GPS Trackers

There are different types of GPS trackers, and the best kind of tracker for your business will depend on your preferences and needs. If you’re looking to purchase GPS trackers for your business, here are the two types of GPS trackers:

  • Hardwired GPS. As its name suggests, this type of GPS device is hardwired into your car’s wiring system.
  • OBD GPS – Also called a “plug and play” GPS, this type of GPS is connected to your car’s OBD port and is ready to use after that.

These two GPS tracking devices are pretty different from each other. Although both are GPS trackers, the specific purposes they serve are somewhat different.

Hardwired GPS Versus OBD GPS: Which is the Best Device?

Out of the two devices mentioned, which is the best one? As stated before, it all depends on what you want for your fleet. So let’s take a closer look at the two and compare their pros and cons.

Hardwired GPS Pros

One of the most significant advantages of hardwired GPS has device security. Because the device is directly connected to your car’s wiring, it is possible to hide the tracking device under the hood of your vehicle. This will make it harder for thieves to find and remove your GPS tracking device. If you’re also worried about your drivers tampering with your device, hardwiring your GPS may be the best option for you.

Another considerable advantage hardwiring has is advanced data collection or telematics. Because the GPS is connected to your car’s wiring, it can provide more information on the vehicle, which is suitable for companies who want advanced and more complex data collection and tracking.

Hardwired GPS Cons

The most significant disadvantage to hardwired GPS is the installation time. The device needs to be connected to your car’s wiring; hence there’s a lot of tinkering involved. Even professional installers take around 30-40 minutes to install a single tracker. If you are running a large and busy fleet, this means many lost work hours for your company. Also, if you are not tech-savvy, it is not recommended that you install them yourself. Many fleet managers have wasted more time and money with DIY installation because they damaged both the device and the vehicle in the process.

This also means that the GPS is difficult to remove because you have to disconnect all the wiring. This means more downtime and more opportunities for human error. This is a significant inconvenience for companies who frequently change their vehicles because they need to repeatedly install and remove their GPS devices.

OBD GPS Pros

OBD GPS is recommended for beginners because of how easy it is to install. You don’t need to connect the GPS directly to your car’s wiring. You only need to plug it into your car’s OBD port, and you’re good to go. Ease of installation also makes the OBD variant a lot more portable, meaning it’s suitable for fleets that change vehicles frequently. When you want to transfer your OBD GPS, you only need to unplug it from your old car and plug it into your new one. Of course, you’ll need to change the vehicle and driver information on the app, but there shouldn’t be any problem other than that.

Fleet managers who don’t have a lot of technical know-how will find installation easier with OBD GPS. Because you only need to plug it into your OBD port, there is minimal to zero chance of messing the installation process up. This also means that installation will only use up to around 5 minutes of your time so that you can plug it in, and your driver is ready for their day. There are no lost work hours. The additional steps of connecting the device to the app and labeling your trackers can be done at your convenience.

OBD GPS Cons

The device is plugged into your car’s OBD port, meaning it is highly visible and exposed. Ease in installation and removal means anyone other than you can take it from the vehicle easily. Car thieves, and even shady employees, can easily find the GPS device and throw it away. Because it is exposed, it’s also easy to remove accidentally. For example, your driver might unconsciously loosen the device while they’re entering or exiting the vehicle.

Some drivers may not feel comfortable knowing that they’re being tracked. In addition, because the device is visible, it might be a source of discomfort or distraction to drivers while they are on the road.

The OBD port is directly connected to the engine, so the GPS has direct access to engine and vehicle data. However, because it is not connected to the car via wiring, it cannot pick up data on other car parts and accessories such as car doors, windshield wipers, seatbelts, etc. Another disadvantage of OBD GPS is that your vehicle may not have OBD ports if manufactured before 1996.

Which Device is the Best?

If you want your GPS to be more secure and provide more data on other car parts, hardwired GPS might be better for you. However, if you prefer the convenience and your data needs to focus more on the car’s engine, OBD GPS is the best choice.

Different Ways To Install A Tracking System Into Your Vehicle

There are different ways of installing a GPS tracking system into your vehicle, depending on what device you have. As stated earlier, a hardwired GPS takes more time to install. Therefore, there are a lot more steps involved in GPS installation:

  • Look for the red wire on your GPS device and connect it to the 12V power supply.
  • Attach the wiring receiver to the wiring harness.
  • Look for wire with the car’s power source and remove the insulation, revealing at least 1-inch worth of wiring inside. Use a sharp object to help you poke the middle of the exposed wires, creating a hole.
  • Remove the insulation for your GPS tracking device’s red wire the same way you did to your car’s power source wire.
  • Instead of creating a hole, twist the exposed wiring of the red wire and thread it through the hole you made with the car’s power source wiring.
  • Press the hole to close it and loop the exposed wiring from your GPS’ red wire around it.
  • Secure the connection with electric tape to prevent grounding.
  • Find the white wire on your GPS tracking device and connect it to the car’s ignition wire.
  • Look for the ground wires on your vehicle and your GPS device and connect the two.
  • You can secure your GPS tracker using screws, double-sided tape, Velcro, or Zip ties to hide it and stop it from moving around, which can sever the connections.

Installing a hardwired GPS is somewhat complicated. If you don’t feel confident enough, it is better to leave the installation to professionals.

Compared to a hardwired GPS, installing an OBD GPS is relatively straightforward:

  • Find your car’s OBD port. This port is usually located underneath the steering wheel area.
  • Plug the OBD GPS device into your OBD port
  • Install the companion app on your PC or mobile phone, go through the account registration process, and connect your GPS tracker to your account.

GPS Fleet Tracking Installation Tips

When installing your GPS devices, remember the following installation tips:

  • Always secure your GPS devices so they don’t move around or can’t get knocked loose from their connections.
  • As stated earlier, it’s better to hire professionals if you don’t know how to install them yourself.
  • To lessen the effects of installation on your company’s productivity, schedule it outside of work hours or in conjunction with the vehicle’s planned regular maintenance.
  • Remember to secure your companion app or software, as well as a stable data connection. Even the best GPS technology will be useless if it can’t transmit data correctly or if there’s no proper software to receive and translate all the data you gathered.

The Final Word

Is GPS tracking easy to install? Unfortunately, there’s no single best answer to this question. It all depends on the type of tracking device you use and the skill level of the person installing it. Overall, GPS tracking installation is straightforward if you have a lot of automobile knowledge. However, installing the device is just one part of the process – to fully integrate GPS tracking for your fleet, you need ample expertise in navigating the companion software and translating the data sent over by the trackers into practical and valuable information for the business.

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