Ask These 5 Questions to Navigate the Lifecycle of Trailer Tracking

By Carolina Ruiz • Published May 8, 2023 • 6 minute read

Navigating the lifecycle of GPS trailer tracking solutions can be difficult. Ask these 5 questions to streamline your evaluation process

The pressure to operate more efficiently is always highest when the freight market is sagging. Now is an ideal time to revisit trailer telematics and gain the upper hand by using the latest IoT systems.

You’re already juggling a lot, so keeping track of new advancements in trailer telematics might have fallen off your radar. Starting the selection process can quickly lead in different directions, but the end goal is always the same – to align your needs with what modern trailer telematics solutions can deliver.

To alleviate the stress of finding the best-fit solution, here are five questions all fleets should be asking upfront:

1. What isn’t working with your current solution?

Decision-makers need to get a lay of the land before embarking on a path forward. Start by assessing your current platform. Is it capable of adapting to your changing business needs and shifting industry trends? Is there anything specific that does not meet your expectations?

Areas where your current solution is coming up short might include asset maintenance, equipment utilization, cargo security, and driver productivity. Without clear visibility of trailer and cargo status, you could be wasting time and fuel when dispatchers assign drivers to trailers that are not fully empty, loaded or road-ready and available for use.

Be sure to ask your back office and customer service teams how they could reduce errors and increase automation by having better asset and cargo visibility. They should have plenty of feedback based on first-hand experience.

2. How have your needs changed?

Your operational needs have changed since you last deployed trailer telematics. The days when basic GPS trailer tracking fit those needs are long gone. Today, most trucking companies want platforms that can do more than what they need them to.

A platform with a gateway device that connects to an ecosystem of smart sensors – on trailer doors, for example – can pinpoint when cargo is being loaded and unloaded. It could also detect cargo theft. As well, you may want automated alerts when trailers cross a virtual perimeter to inform staff and customers of arrivals. All these capabilities and more go beyond simply tracking time and location.

A modern trailer telematics solution can improve preventative maintenance by monitoring trailer hours, mileages and component statuses like tire pressures and fault codes from the ABS system. With these and other capabilities, you could resolve minor issues before they snowball into major problems.

Cargo security is another reason fleets are looking for systems that can do more. CargoNet reported freight theft activity cost companies $57.9 million in 2021. Nearly half (45%) of the companies purchasing telematics solutions have trailer/cargo security in mind, according to a 2022 Hanover Research study commissioned by SkyBitz.

3. What type of solution delivers the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO)?

Every business is unique. No one-size-fits-all solution exists for trailer telematics. Each has a different TCO (what a solution will cost over time) and return on investment (ROI).

Two key components of TCO to consider during your research and selection process are:

1) Implementation timeline. Delays and capital wasted in equipment routings, technician time, and equipment utilization increase TCO. Ask vendors about installation ease, device duration, and asset applicability.

2) Power options. Drill down into specifics. Will the solution be powered by wire (using the 7-way connection), or will it use solar, or perhaps a self-contained battery? Each option has different use cases and TCO considerations.

After determining what features and functionalities are best suited for your business, compare the TCO of different vendor solutions. You will find that you get what you pay for in trailer telematics. Generally, enterprise-grade solutions have a higher price point, but provide a lower TCO and faster ROI.

4. How much should you plan on investing in your next solution?

When approaching the end of a product’s life, fleet leaders may already have a wish-list for investments in trailer telematics. The Hanover study found that more than three quarters of decision-makers are likely to change every aspect of their solution if they could — and most (80%) are willing to spend more in the future to get those improvements.

It’s never too early to align on what features and functions matter most to your organization. When it’s time to get quotes from vendors, be sure to inquire about details like annual or monthly service fees, data limits, installation costs, and maintenance fees.

Transparency is key during the research and selection process. Be sure to understand add-on costs and hidden fees to avoid surprises. Besides comparing costs, you should be able to establish a budget and have a clear and predictable timeline for achieving ROI.

5. How long do we/should we expect our telematics solution to last?

Most fleets (84%) that use a telematics solution plan to replace it every five years, according to the Hanover study. Others want solutions that last the full lifecycle of their trailer or container assets. In many cases, the expectation for lifespan is five years or longer.

Remember: if you’re ready to upgrade your current solution – or switch to a new platform – it’s critical to understand your needs today and in the future. Asking the right questions will simplify your selection process and ensure you choose a technology platform and partner to maximize the benefits.

Evaluating new technology can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, there is an easy way to evaluate options to find the lowest TCO and the fastest ROI. Download a free copy of “The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide to Trailer Telematics” and you’ll be on your way.

Would you like to see the latest trailer telematics from SkyBitz? As the industry’s leading asset tracking and monitoring provider of SmartTrailer™solutions, we’d like to introduce you to Kuantum, our next-generation platform.

Schedule a demo to see how Kuantum combines location-based intelligence with an integrated cargo sensor to secure assets and cargo, save time, and increase trailer utilization to maximize capacity and revenue.