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What is Geofencing and How Can You Use It? Brian Dziuk | Mar 28, 2018, 2:47:20 PM

It’s a dream for many fleet managers: Being able to create virtual boundaries around specific geographic areas to track the comings and goings of your fleet vehicles. But, what if we told you that this dream is actually a reality for many fleet managers around the country?

This vehicle and equipment tracking system capability is made possible with GPS-based geofencing technology. What is geofencing and how can you use it to improve safety and efficiency in your fleet?

What is Geofencing?

Techopedia defines geofencing as, "A technology that defines a virtual boundary around a real-world geographical area.”

How Does Geofencing Work?

Geofencing works by creating a virtual perimeter or boundary around a real location. Then, whenever your tagged vehicle or asset enters or leaves those virtual boundaries, you are notified.

These boundaries, which can be as narrow as a single street, as long as a highway, or as large as an entire country, are made possible through the geofencing tool in Rastrac’s GPS tracking system for vehicles or other equipment.

Geofencing on a Mobile Phone vs Computer

You'll set up your geofences through your fleet management software—and since RASTRAC offers both desktop and mobile access to your fleet management software, geofencing is possible from anywhere! Whether you're sitting at your desktop computer in your office and working from your cell phone while you're on the go, you'll be able to both set up a new geofence and monitor your current ones.

Ways to Use Geofencing 

Why is this tool so useful for fleet managers in equipment rental companies, law enforcement, and many other industries? Consider the following uses:

  • Antitheft Improvements. For many, geofencing can be a powerful antitheft tool. By getting an alert as soon as an asset crosses a boundary, you can massively improve your response time to a theft—making it easier to recover stolen assets.
  • Time Card Verification. Some businesses and fleet managers use geofencing to verify time cards. Using a GPS-tagged work vehicle, or a smartphone with a tracking app, employers can see exactly when a worker crossed the geofence boundary.
  • Enforcing Route Adherence. By setting a geofence along a specific corridor or route, you can make sure that your fleet vehicles aren’t deviating from that route. This can help to improve route and schedule adherence for carrier fleets.
  • Contract Enforcement. For equipment rental companies, contract enforcement is a huge concern. These companies need to be able to verify that rented equipment doesn’t get taken outside of the agreed-upon rental area. Also, being able to remotely kill the starters for certain equipment that leaves the geofence boundary can be even more helpful for holding renters to their contract terms.

Types of Geofences You Can Make

There are several ways to you can set up a geofence. The three types of geofences you can create using the RASTRAC GPS management software are:

  1. Polygon Geofences. This is the type of geofence that you’ll use when you need to have a very specific custom boundary. Here, you set the boundary of the geofence point by point to create a filled-in fence that contours to a specific set of streets, the edges of a park, or any other type of zone you wish.
  2. Circular Geofences. The fastest and easiest kind of geofence to set up—set a size, pick a point on the map, and you’re done. This type of geofence is usually selected when you just want to make sure an asset doesn’t stray too far from one area. Some companies use very small circular geofences to mark off delivery/pickup zones for tracking pickup and drop-off events.
  3. Corridor Geofences. Geofencing by corridor is a popular option for transport companies sending fully-loaded big rigs long distances. These geofences create a border along a stretch of highway and give you the option to tweak how wide the border is. Most users create a border 2-3 miles wide so they don’t get alerts every time the driver has to go get gas, but can still be alerted when there’s a serious deviation from the assigned route.

Picking the right type of geofence to use can help you get the most out of this GPS tracking software feature.

How Geofencing Can Help Vehicle Tracking

When you use the geofencing tool to designate specific areas, you also can set auto alerts that will notify you whenever a GPS-tagged vehicle or asset arrives on site or leaves a set area.

This tool can allow you to do a few different things, including:

  • Track locations of vehicles and assets in the field anytime
  • Track when employees arrive or leave a job site
  • Receive a confirmation whenever a shipment arrives at a delivery location
  • Mark a specific area as a “no entry” zone for a given asset
  • Monitor whether any fleet vehicles leave their designated areas after hours

Additional Benefits of Geofencing

Read on to discover a few more ways how geofencing can help you more efficiently manage your organization’s GPS vehicle and equipment tracking.

Increased Vehicle Efficiency by Preventing Unauthorized Use

By knowing when your vehicles enter or leave designated areas via geofence alerts, you can keep drivers from making unauthorized detours that waste valuable time and resources. This helps your fleet be more efficient and helps to save on unnecessary costs, improving your bottom line.

When a vehicle leaves its assigned route, you will receive an alert and can reach out to the driver for an explanation. This helps you to stay in contact with the driver and reminds them that their vehicle use is being tracked, discouraging unauthorized vehicle use.

However, you may not always want to receive notifications every time someone goes slightly off course. For long-distance transportation operations, for example, drivers require a little leeway to accommodate refueling stops and rest stops. This is where geofencing by corridor is useful. This is a capability of the Rastrac geofencing program that allows you to create a boundary that extends from a specific route rather than a circular or a polygonal geofence perimeter that encompasses irregularly-shaped boundaries.

This way, if a driver has to go a mile or two off of their set path to rest or refuel, you won’t receive an unnecessary alert.

Improved Recoverability When Assets are Stolen

According to the 2016 Crime in the United States report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), there were more than 765,000 motor vehicle thefts estimated to have taken place nationwide at a cost of $5.9 billion. This is an increase of 7.8% over the previous year.

Some of the factors identified by the National Equipment Register (NER) Annual Theft Report as contributing to low recovery rates of stolen construction equipment include:

  • Delays in discovery and reporting of thefts,
  • Non-existent or inaccurate records, and
  • Confusing equipment identification systems.

When it comes to the theft of a vehicle or another high-value asset, your response time as a fleet manager can make a huge difference in potentially recovering it. Setting up geofences and alert notifications for GPS-tagged assets can help you to improve your response time.

Setting alerts for whenever any of your monitored assets crosses the geofence boundary informs you almost instantly that an asset has left an assigned area or route. This can help you to potentially identify a theft attempt while it’s still in progress so you can track the asset and contact local law enforcement.

By providing as much detailed information as possible to the police or state law enforcement, you can increase the likelihood that your asset will be recovered.

More Accurate Timecard Tracking 

Tracking the arrival/departure of employees in the field makes timecard tracking more efficient and accurate for hourly workers. Instead of having to keep track of manual time cards that could have errors, you'll have a verified, unbiased account of when each employee entered and left a worksite. This can also help to reduce labor costs when you aren't left paying for misreported hours worked.

The Ability to Deliver Better Customer Service

Setting delivery notifications through geofencing is useful for tracking whether shipments are on schedule. This can help you provide a higher level of service to your customers. When you know that something was delivered on time, you'll have peace of mind that your customers are satisfied. If you can determine a shipment or delivery is going to be late, you can proactively reach out to the customer and give them an accurate, updated arrival time rather than leaving them to wait around frustrated. This can drastically improve your customer satisfaction scores!

Vehicle and equipment tracking doesn’t have to be a complicated or arduous process. For fleet managers that need live tracking of assets, geofence boundary alerts can be invaluable for staying on top of things. Rastrac’s easy-to-use GPS fleet management geofencing tool can help you ensure that your fleet vehicles and other assets are where they’re supposed to be.

Contact Rastrac today to schedule a demo to see how geofencing can help your business by clicking on the banner below.

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