While there are a lot of things to think about when talking about your fleet, the hardware you choose to pair with your fleet management software is probably a low priority. I mean it's just a commodity at this point, right? Well, the real answer is that it is a little more complicated than that.
In the past, the user was responsible to setup and configure each GPS device to talk to the fleet management server and were on their own if there were connectivity issues. These days there are more options like a cloud solution where the hardware is preconfigured before shipment and all the data, firmware updates and debugged are managed for you. While this means you will spend less time troubleshooting and maintaining servers, it will typically cost you more for these services. Ask your provider if these are included in the monthly or annual subscription fee.
Something to look for is if the vendor has an API in order for other applications like your fleet management software to access the data. APIs allow software to integrate with one another and share the same data. This way you can choose your routing software and fleet management software to both use the same location data. Ask your vendor if they offer an API and what other software can use the data from your hardware.
Looking inside the cab, are you looking to expand beyond basic GPS tracking like hooking into the engine data for fuel use, diagnostic trouble codes and safety alerts. Many devices now also integrate with in-cab ELD tablets for electronic driving logs, timecards, driver workflow and other productivity applications.
As you may know, there are big changes coming on the wireless data front as major carriers and MVNOs are shuttering legacy cellular technology like GSM (3G) and CDMA (1x RTT) for the newer LTE network. This means the millions of OBD GPS devices out there now will need to be swapped out for the new network called CATM1 LTE before the end of 2019.
This new network has been designed specifically for Internet of Things or IoT (also called M2M) devices to allow low power and low data costs with excellent network coverage and long service life.
While this is last on the list it is often asked first, how much does it cost? That might not be the best question, perhaps a better way to look at it would be what investment are you willing to make on an annual or monthly basis for properly functioning data collection. You will need to factor in the expected lifetime of the hardware, ask your vendor how long the warranty period is and what will it cost to service outside of warranty. Some vendors even have a lifetime warranty for the hardware as long as you are subscribed to the service. Taking the unit cost and dividing it over the number of months of expected useful life will give you a better idea of system costs as a whole.
If you have questions for your fleet or are looking for a CATM1 LTE OBD GPS device to integrate with your fleet management or routing software, contact our solutions team to see if CarmaLink would be a fit.