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What is Trailer Tracking?

 

Telematics technology, in addition to tracking cars and light commercial vehicles, is increasingly being used to track Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGV) and their articulated trailers.  These trailers are regularly and often hitched and unhitched to numerous lorry tractors.  Although both solutions often share common ground when it comes to technology, articulated lorry trailer tracking presents unique challenges.  Both types of solution may also deliver similar benefits, but companies who utilise trailer tracking often talk in the terms of ‘load visibility’ not time sheet validation or fuel usage. 

A semi-trailer truck, also known as tractor-trailer or (in the United Kingdom and Ireland) articulated truck or articulated lorry, is an articulated truck or lorry consisting of a towing engine (tractor in the United States, prime  mover in Australia, tractor  unit in Ireland and truck in the UK, Canada and New Zealand), and a semi-trailer (plus possible  additional trailers) that carries the freight. - Colloquial terms for semi-trailer truck include truck and trailer, transfer truck, 18-wheeler, semi, Diesel, Mack truck (named for a prominent brand), big rig (US), transport (Canada), artic (UK and Ireland), and juggernaut (UK).  Source: Wikipedia

curtain sider trailer

The benefits of trailer tracking.

  • trailer tracking will deter and prevent cargo theft
  • tracking provides customers with real-time shipment tracking
  • fleet managers know where trailers are at all times so valuable assets and shipments do not get lost.

Many users of trailer tracking are quoted as saying ‘Before we tracked trailers, we'd spend hours or even days on the phone trying to locate our trailers or get a rough idea of where they were on a particular run. Now we get the location almost instantly."

The return on investment gained by having trailer tracking is straightforward to calculate; it is often difficult for the fleet manger to know the location of its trailers once they leave the depot. With trailer tracking, a fleet manager has immediate visibility of the location of all his trailers without having to call anyone. This allows the trailers get recycled back in to the operation quickly, making them more productive and ensuring that opportunities are not missed to generate revenue.

Trailer tracking also helps an organisation determine if its trailers are being used for unauthorised ‘side jobs.’  Without trailer tracking fleets have no reliable way to track their assets.

 

One fleet manager is quoted as saying "All it [trailer tracking] is really about is giving the fleet, more so than their customers, the ability to keep a constant eye on their trailers; unless you can see where it is and know what it is doing during the day, there's now way you can get higher productivity out of it.  Many customers say they want it, but most rarely use it.  The real benefit of trailer tracking is purely internal - fleets do not have to hunt for trailers anymore. That has been a big issue in transportation. It also translates into less hassle for drivers. They can be directed much more quickly to empty and/or loaded trailers; that capability can be a vital retention tool."

Trailer tracking has helped many companies not only automate much of the process used to find trailers, it has helped them be more efficient, and thus make more money, from the trailer fleet."

Trailer Tracking presents unique technical problems.

  • There are different types of trailer (flat bed, refrigerated, curtain sided, box container, etc.) used for different applications including, temperature monitoring, perishable freight, bulk load transportation. 
  • A trailer is an interchangeable part of a vehicle and may often be left for long periods time untethered from the vehicle cab.
  • Articulated vehicles may often cross international boundaries.
  • Problems can be incurred finding the right spot to mount the location unit to avoid tampering.
  • Unlike a typical vehicle tracking system, where the vehicle location unit is fitted inside the vehicle, a trailer tracking solution needs to be able to cope with being exposed to the elements. Rain, cold and salt from the road can cause problems for electrical devices.

Problems such as these quite often raise a complex technical challenge for the Telematics Service provider.  These technical  which need to be addressed fully, if a Trailer tracking system is going to work successfully.


 

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