RTLS, or Real-Time Location Systems, are technologies used to track and manage assets in real time within a designated area. While this technology has a wide range of uses, in fleet management, its assistance in optimizing daily operations is particularly valuable. RTLS offers a comprehensive solution that can help achieve this optimization by providing accurate and timely information about the location and status of critical assets. Let’s dive into how this technology works, what its benefits are for fleet optimization, and how to choose and implement your ideal system for the best results.


 

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How RTLS Technology Works

RTLS utilizes a combination of hardware and software components to provide precise and accurate location information, offering a wide range of applications across various industries. At the core of this technology are tags or badges that are attached to assets or worn by individuals. These tags identify their location and report back to the central system. Depending on the type and a fleet manager’s needs, they can also be outfitted with sensors that can record and communicate condition data like temperature, humidity, shock, acceleration, and tampering as well.

The central system in an RTLS system plays a crucial role in collecting, processing, and displaying the location data. It contains all the data communicated by the asset tags, whether that data concerns location, condition, or behavior of assets. The system is able to present that information in a more digestible, visual format for users while providing basic analysis and insights based on user specifications. 

Why Fleet Optimization is Important

But why should you spend time and money investing in a solution for fleet tracking and optimization, anyway? Simply put, fleet optimization is a critical aspect of modern business operations, especially for companies that rely on transportation as a key part of their business model. The optimization often involves the strategic management of a fleet of vehicles to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance overall performance. In effectively managing these resources, processes, and priorities, fleet managers are setting themselves and their companies up for lasting success in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

One of the primary reasons why fleet optimization is important is its impact on cost savings. By optimizing routes and schedules, companies can reduce fuel consumption, maintenance costs, and labor expenses. This not only improves the bottom line but also helps in reducing the environmental impact of the fleet operations, leading to improved reputation and simplified adherence with environmental standards.

Fleet optimization also plays a crucial role in improving customer satisfaction. By ensuring timely deliveries and efficient service, companies can enhance their reputation and build customer loyalty. When you optimize your fleet for efficiency and build a reputation for reliability, customers are also more likely to recommend your services to other people who might need them, allowing you to passively expand your customer base.

Improving your fleet optimization tends to lead to improved safety, as well. When you’re tracking and collecting critical information for informing optimization decisions, it’s easy to also track safety factors like driver behavior to help identify potential risks. This not only reduces the likelihood of accidents but also helps in lowering insurance premiums, allowing you to instead allot that spend to an area that can help you improve your fleet’s overall effectiveness and efficiency.

Moreover, fleet optimization can also help you achieve and prove compliance with regulatory requirements. Many industries have strict regulations regarding driver hours, vehicle maintenance, and environmental standards, not to mention the handling of sensitive assets such as food, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals. By keeping your finger on the pulse of these requirements at all times, you won’t have to waste time later trying to create the necessary reports to prove compliance, rendering you less likely to face legal fees, temporary shutdowns, and other penalties.

In addition to these benefits, fleet optimization can also lead to improved asset utilization. When you understand how your assets are being used, you can make decisions about how to improve that usage, consequentially improving efficiency as a whole. By maximizing the use of each vehicle in the fleet, companies can also reduce the need for additional vehicles, leading to further cost savings.

The Benefits of RTLS for Fleet Management

Now that we understand how RTLS technology works and why fleet optimization is important in general, it’s important to establish how RTLS technology can help lend itself to improved fleet management and all the benefits we outlined above. While the benefits you care about or that you see the most of will vary depending on the unique goals and processes of your company, the most common and most important benefits include:

Enhanced Asset Visibility

When using RTLS as a fleet tracking system for vehicles and assets, companies are provided with unparalleled visibility into their real-time location and status. This visibility enables fleet managers to monitor their assets closely, leading to increased operational efficiency. With RTLS to help them accurately track the movement of vehicles and assets, fleet managers can identify any inefficiencies or bottlenecks, and take corrective action promptly. This visibility also enhances security and theft prevention. By knowing the exact location of assets at all times, fleet managers can quickly respond to unauthorized access or theft, minimizing losses and ensuring the safety of their assets.

Responsive Route Planning

Since RTLS provides real-time location information, it can also be used to assess both travel time and idle time. If a tracked asset unexpectedly stops moving or starts moving slowly while on the road, fleet managers can discern that something has likely gone wrong along that route, whether that be general traffic, an accident, extreme weather, or anything else that can affect road and traffic conditions. With this knowledge, they can help drivers identify alternative routes or take other measures in order to ensure that deliveries are made on time or, failing that, that customers are aware of the situation. This allows logistics companies to become more responsive to in-the-moment disruptions, enhancing the flexibility and reliability of their fleet.

Efficient Trailer Utilization

RTLS enables real-time monitoring of ongoing trailer status, allowing fleet managers to identify maintenance issues early and reduce downtime. By examining historical data, fleet managers can remain apprised of which vehicles have been on the road the longest and in the most strenuous conditions. At the other end of the scale, they can also assess how long other trailers have been sitting idle in the yard. This data can help ensure that usage is spread evenly throughout available assets, improving asset utilization and lifespan in one fell swoop. This can also help fleet managers assess when specific trailers are due for maintenance or when they might need unexpected maintenance due to a more strenuous journey. This helps prevent unnecessary maintenance while keeping trailers on the road for as long as possible.

Improved Customer Satisfaction

By allowing the tracking of individual assets and cargo, RTLS fleet tracking provides accurate delivery times and tracking information, enhancing communication with customers. You are provided with the location and status of deliveries in real time, reducing uncertainty and improving overall satisfaction. If customers have any questions or concerns, you can give them direct answers, helping to build trust. As previously touched upon, RTLS also enables companies to handle last-minute changes or delays more effectively, ensuring that customers are informed and satisfied with the service provided.

Enhanced Safety and Compliance

RTLS further allows for the monitoring of driver behavior and adherence to regulations. This functionality largely hinges on the inclusion of sensors in your chosen asset trackers. By outfitting trailers or other assets with shock or movement sensors, fleet managers can identify unsafe driving practices such as harsh braking and take corrective action to improve safety. Sensor-enabled asset tags can also provide notification systems for temperature-sensitive cargo, alerting you immediately if a product falls out of its required range and giving you a chance to fix the issue before it spoils or is otherwise irreparably damaged. RTLS can also help you prove your compliance through its ability to automatically generate reports when they are requested, preventing the challenges of time and inaccuracy that come from doing it manually.

Data-Driven Decision Making

As we continue to reference, RTLS provides access to historical and real-time data. In addition to other, more immediate benefits, this allows companies to analyze key performance indicators (KPIs) and make informed decisions about improving their overall operations. By analyzing data such as utilization, active time, idle time, delivery times, and more, logistics companies can identify areas for improvement and implement strategies to optimize their operations. RTLS also helps in improving strategic planning and resource allocation by providing valuable insights into fleet performance, exposing both the strengths and weaknesses of a business’s model.

Cost Savings

All of this leads to one of the most significant benefits of RTLS in fleet management: cost savings. When you are more efficient, more responsive, more compliant, and more data-driven, it is only natural that you end up spending less. Fleet tracking helps ensure that you are maximizing your use of assets while minimizing replacements and costly maintenance. It also helps you address disruptions like unexpected road conditions or temperature-sensitive products falling out of range quickly enough to reduce loss. Furthermore, with compliance and reporting benefits, it helps you reduce legal fees and insurance premiums. When you combine all this with the lasting decisions you can make based on historical data, strategically implemented RTLS tracking can provide cost savings in almost every aspect of your business.

How to Implement RTLS for Fleet Management

In order for RTLS to be effective for fleet management, however, you need to ensure that your chosen solution has been implemented correctly to serve your company’s needs and provide the best possible logistics tracking solution. Some steps you should take to ensure your effective implementation include:

Planning and Preparation

Implementing RTLS in fleet management begins with thorough planning and preparation. This involves assessing the specific needs and requirements of your fleet, identifying key objectives, and defining the scope of the implementation. Essentially, you need to decide what you want to track, where you want to track it, and what additional data you’d like to have access to. Fleet managers should also consider factors such as budget, timeline, and resources needed for the implementation process when prioritizing these goals. If it makes more sense for your company, you shouldn’t be afraid to conduct a partial implementation now and expand in the future when you’re more able to afford it, as these systems can easily be added onto at any point after installation.

Installation of RTLS Infrastructure

Once the planning phase is complete, the next step is to install the RTLS infrastructure. This includes deploying the appropriate tags on trailers and other critical assets, as well as installing any necessary readers or receivers at strategic locations and setting up the central server for data processing. Proper installation is crucial to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the RTLS system. Luckily, you won’t have to do this alone – your fleet tracking provider will be able to assist and guide you through the installation process to ensure that you have the best results possible.

Integration with Existing Fleet Management Systems

After the RTLS infrastructure is in place, the final step is to integrate it with existing fleet management systems. While this step is often overlooked, we find that it is absolutely crucial to a positive asset tracking experience. This integration allows for seamless data sharing between your new fleet tracking system and existing systems, such as telematics software or inventory management systems. Integration allows you to access and analyze all your critical data in one centralized location, improving the decision-making process and lowering the system’s learning curve by allowing you the choice to interact with a UI that you’re already familiar with.

Optimize Your Fleet with AirFinder Everywhere

AirFinder Everywhere is Link Labs’ real-time asset tracking solution for fleet management and logistics operations. With our solution, you can monitor the location, condition, and behavior of your trailers and other critical assets to allow you to build a more informed, more optimized fleet management process. We also understand the importance of a solution customized to fit your unique needs, so we work with you to select the right tags, settings, and installation rate to fit your company’s size, budget, and priorities. If you want to learn more about how our logistics tracking solution can work for you, book a demo with our experts today.

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Written by Makenna Dudley

Makenna Dudley is a Marketing Associate for Link Labs, with practical experience in written communications, media writing, and additional forms of content creation. She has a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication.

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