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How many times have you been waiting (and waiting and waiting) for a package – only to have the shipper tell you that it’s “somewhere” between the original destination and your house? As frustrating as that is for you, it’s often more frustrating for the shipper – not only are they losing customer good-will, but they might have actually lost their truck!

Well the guess work of where packages might be and when exactly you might be able to expect delivery could be over with the advent of GPS truck tracking.

Useful not only for delivery services, GPS truck tracking can be successfully utilized in a whole range of applications. Airport shuttle services use it to provide customers with up-to-the-minute estimates of when they will be picked up. Furniture and flower delivery services use it to manage their fleets (and give their customers more flexibility). Car dealerships use it to keep track of inventory – on the off chance someone might take a “test drive” for an extended period of time.

Generally GPS truck tracking services use either a cellular or a satellite network. As the customer, you would purchase a tracking package from one of any number of providers, including Advanced Trucking Tehnologies, FleetLinc and Track Your Truck. The vendor will provide you with GPS devices, software, wireless services – in short, everything you need to begin GPS truck tracking.

Once your receivers are installed on the vehicles, signals will be sent usually every one to five minutes through the designated cellular or satellite network to a designated receiver station. These signals will be translated into specific coordinates. These coordinates are then fed into a PC-based mapping system, such as Google Earth, to allow you to pinpoint the exact location of trucks in your fleet. All of this happens seamlessly and in seconds, allowing you to monitor what’s happening with deliveries from the comfort of your office.

Many services also provide the added bonus of recording and saving GPS coordinates for a set period of time – in case questions come up about whether a certain vehicle really was where it was supposed to be at a certain time.

The level of service, accuracy of pinpointing locations and number of receivers would depend entirely upon your needs. Smaller fleets will obviously need fewer receivers and may operate in a very localized area. Although you may not need a nationwide locator service, do bear in mind that if you are looking to expand, it might make sense to start with a provider who will be able to meet your needs in the future.

For a very small operation, you might also consider purchasing a GPS truck tracking device on your own. You can then purchase one of the many existing commercial services that will send signals from your GPS device through receivers directly to your PC. One such option is the Super Trackstick GPS Datalogger, which will not only help pinpoint the locations of associated vehicles, but will also store information for future review.

Hmmm. In addition to keeping track of deliveries, GPS truck tracking might be useful for telling you where your teenager REALLY took the car the other night. Right?