What's an Asset Tracker?
"Let me give you my beeper number" I bet you haven't heard that in a while. The past 20 years have been so good for technology, and the high tech spy gadgets we see on TV are now available to anyone and everyone. And in this information age, if you own expensive construction equipment and you are not tracking it, this message is for you.
GPS Asset Trackers (you know that little magnet Walter White used to track Gus on Breaking Bad) are one of the best things you can buy for equipment, especially if you are lending or renting it out. Even the most basic model can send a message to your cell phone with location and movement alerts for about $15 a month. That's a small price to pay for piece of mind when your $30,000 machine has the same key as everyone else (seriously how is that still the normal).
There is a huge range of devices out there from basic magnets to high end solar power with full diagnostics. I don't claim to be an expert in this field, but I am a big fan of this inexpensive security guard. So here are 6 things to consider to help you pick the right tracker for your fleet.
How often do you want to see its location?
I rent out a few of my trailers, and I know they are moving around constantly. It is not important that I know every place they have been, but I do want to be able to locate them if they don't return. For trailers I use a Long Term tracker. They are small (about 2"x3"x1") with a powerful magnet and 3 year battery life, and it sends a location twice a day.
If this was a vehicle or piece of machinery, a tracker that can be hardwired into the equipment that is activated when running. You can receive more frequent location pings and some can even watch it move on their app.
2. What Other Monitoring Do I Want?
Again, for the trailers, I'm not going to monitor tire pressure, hours, and temp. I just want to locate it. So a basic GPS plan will do.
Skid Steers, Dozers, Telehandlers, Man Lifts; those are items I would recommend a plug in device. Linxup makes a unit that can monitor fuel levels, engine hours, maintenance alerts, and ping location every 10 min!
3. Boundary Alerts
GeoFences - This is the term for imaginary boundaries you can set, if your tracker passes the boundary you get an alert. This is a good option if you don't want to be bogged down with location alerts, and trust it will stay close to where you left it. But you do have to update your GeoFence when moving locations.
4. Power Source
Battery Powered - These are usually for basic information and low ping rates. Usually a 3 year battery, though extreme temps may cut that down.
Hard Wired - Can be fairly easy to plug into newer equipment that has a computer module, the manufacture may have instructions for your use. Usually battery backup for location info when not running.
Solar Powered - A little larger than the other styles, but self charging and more frequent information pings.
5. Insurance Discounts
Stolen vehicles and equipment can take the police weeks to find, and if they are not found the insurance companies have a large payout to face. Some insurance carriers offer discounts for "anti-theft devices" a.k.a. the GPS tracker. For example, Gieco offers up to a 25% discount.
6. Promotes Responsible Users
If your employee/renter knows you have a GPS device on your equipment, they will be more likely to respect it. This could mean keeping the machine hours to a minimum, keeping the unit within your boundaries, or reducing unauthorized use. And renters will certainly be sure to return your items knowing you're watching them.
If you are interested in introducing a little bit of tech to your company, this is definitely worth while. For something in the range of $15-$25 a month, and almost zero maintenance, the pros far exceed the cons. 10 out of 10, would recommend.