In between simple passenger car tracking and truck tracking systems, small business delivery fleets are more likely to need simple van tracking devices. Providing useful information to locate the vans or freight, but also on mechanical diagnostics, fuel consumption or driver behaviour, tracking systems fall into two broad categories: active or passive systems.
Two types of technologies can furthermore be identified with GPS trackers and RFID trackers.
Van tracking system type: active or passive?
As with any other type of vehicle, vans can be equipped with ether active or passive systems, the difference laying in the data retrieval technology.
Active tracking systems
Active tracking systems are the most advanced tracking systems for any van, as they aow real-time monitoring through wireless data transmission. Data coming from all vehicles in the fleet can be gathered immediately in one single place, which can be very useful for fleet management, rerouting, or immediate localisation of the van which would be the nearest to the delivery point in case several bases are controlled.
Unlike active systems, passive tracking systems cannot retrieve collected data automatically and on the go. Data transfer and inspection are done after the trip is finished, when a technician accesses the tracking unit, or at regular intervals when the data is uploaded to the server remotely, possibly by the van driver if a connection can be accessed. Although this is a significant inconvenient, passive systems also have the advantage of being able to provide data on more parameters than active systems.
GPS and RFID tracking technologies
Depending whether it’s tracking the vans themselves, or tracking the goods that matters more, RFID or GPS technologies can be preferred. Both have their respective advantages and disadvantages, and very different costs, so it is better that interested businesses clearly know just exactly why they need to install van tracking systems so that they can make the right choice.
Van tracking with GPS systems
GPS trackers enable active van tracking through satellite positioning and wireless data transmission. The GPS units are now fairly small and can fit in any van, while providing useful information to both the fleet manager and the van driver in real time. GPS tracking terminals, but also the related data plans, server, installation and maintenance are often included in complete packages by specialised vendors, and can be as cheap as £8 a month.
RFID chips are small contactless transmitters which can be read by scanners so as to retrieve related information into the system. Such trackers will more often be used in warehouses, as RFID chips are fitted onto the vans but more frequently on the cargo itself. RFID tracking therefore represents a passive van tracking technology.
While the price of the chips is marginal, the cost of building a RFID system, including scanners, terminals, servers and related software may represent a significant investment for a company starting from scratch.