The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a satellite-based navigation system made up of a network of 24 satellites placed into orbit by the U.S. Department of Defense. GPS was originally intended for military applications, but in the 1980s, the government made the system available for civilian use. GPS works in any weather conditions, anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day. GPS satellites circle the earth twice a day in a very precise orbit and transmit signal information to earth. GPS receivers take this information and use triangulation to calculate the user's exact location. Essentially, the GPS receiver compares the time a signal was transmitted by a satellite with the time it was received. The time difference tells the GPS receiver how far away the satellite is. Now, with distance measurements from a few more satellites, the receiver can determine the user's position within feet.
GPS enabled Tracking combines a GPS reciever with some form of communication technology such as satellite or cellular modems and a small computer chip. The computer has a small program running on it that reads data from the GPS, formats the data and sends it out through the modem based on preferences that determine how often to do so. The preferences also direct the data to a server that accepts the data, parses it and displays it on a map and in reports.
There really isn't a better or worse solution between the two. Satellite communication cost more than cellular so they are mainly used in applications that require less data or non real-time scenarios. The main reason for using Satellite in this market previously was a lack of continuous cellular coverage but these days there is exceptional coverage in most areas.
There are many manufacturers of GPS tracking devices. You mainly want to get the latest and greatest equipment that will last a few years. There are many tracking companies that buy in bulk from one manufacturer to lower the cost of the units. This can be a problem as technology advances they are unable to financially justify going to the new units when they have a lot of stock on the old units.
Figuring out the right solution for your needs can be a difficult task. Your best bet is to compare all aspects of the various solutions in the market place. While price can be the ultimate factor you should also verify that the company that you are working with owns the technology! there are a lot of companies that are merely resellers. They have a marketing web site but pay someone else to use their tracking services. This present multiple issues; if you need customization of reports, alerts, maps etc. you are not likely to get the support. Also, if the marketing company goes out of business you are out of business! A quick way to tell is to ask for a live demonstration. If the web page (URL) that you start on changes to another domain name after you log in then you are dealing with a marketing front company.
There are 4 factors that make up the total cost. The hardware is a one time cost and can range from $395.00 to $550.00. This cost may or may not include an external antenna, cables, relays etc. depending on the vendor. next, Installation cost. This is also a one time fee that can range from $35.00 to $100.00 again depending on the vendor. If you have your own mechanics on staff, they can be trained to do the install. Some companies will also charge an activation fee. You should not pay an activation fee. Also, web site service. This is charged per device and recurring monthly and is paid by the month or quarter depending on your arrangement. Lastly, the data charge. This is also billed on a per device monthly basis. The data usage varies depending on how often the device reports and how many hours per month the device is opertating. Normally, if you want to get 2 minute reports and your vehicles are on the road 8am to 6pm you would need a 2 megabyte data plan. This usually runs 11.95 per device per month. An example for a company with 10 vehicles: hardware - $395.00 ea. X 10 vehicles = $3950.00, installation - $40.00 ea X 10 vehilces = $400.00, monthly data charge (based on 2 meg plan) 11.95 per month ea X 10 vehicles = $119.50, web site charge $12.00 per month ea X 10 vehicles = $120.00 Total one time cost: ($3950.00 + $400.00) = 4350.00 and total monthly: (119.50 + $120.00) = $239.50 per month.
What are the ROI Calculations?
Return On Investment (ROI) studies show savings from the use of an AVL or Realtime GPS tracking system show a benefit in a relatively short time. The primary categories are Increased Productivity, Improved Corporate Risk Profile, and Reduced Fleet Operating Costs.