Wabash Duraplate Dry Van

GPS for Trailers Saves Money

Posted on October 22, 2015 · Posted in fleet tracking software

Using GPS software for trailer tracking saves money for businesses

With all the talk of the ELD mandate coming from FMCSA soon, business owners and fleet managers sometimes forget about the importance of the trailer. After all, that’s where the money is, right? It is called a “payload”.
The dichotomy of the trucking world is you can’t pull a trailer without a truck and the truck is worthless without a trailer (unless you are a racing team). Trucks get all the attention due to the fact they cost a lot of money to purchase, maintain and keep rolling down the road. Also, trucks are the location where the driver resides – the human element in the equation and we don’t want to sell short the value of the driver. However, without the payload and the trailer, everything else is moot.

Using GPS for trailers helps business owners and fleet managers keep up with the following aspects of trailer fleet management.


Obviously, if the trailer goes missing, so does the payload. Without the payload, no one gets paid and the business owner hopes he has enough cargo insurance coverage to pay the value of the payload. I have a customer who was contracted to deliver 3 reefer loads of cosmetics to New York from Dallas for the Holiday Season. He had been under contract for past 9 months and was fully insured up to $1M USD for cargo coverage. Previous loads were well under his $1M limit. These 3 loads were $2M each, $6m total value. All 3 trailers went missing the day after they left the Dallas warehouse. None of them had GPS tracking devices. The customer was responsible for $3M of stolen cargo NOT covered under his insurance policy. It would have destroyed his business and he would have lost all he worked for. Luckily, all 3 trailers were located, returned with payload intact and delivered on time. He dodged an expensive bullet.

Cargo theft in the U.S. is a $4 BILLION business. In the past 5 years occurrences have declined but the value per occurrence has increased. There are 3 major cargo theft zones in the Unites States: Florida to Chicago, Houston to Dallas into Oklahoma and Southern California. According to statistics from Freightwatch International and Travelers Insurance, Florida and California have had significant increases in both occurrences and value per occurrence from January 2014 thru June 2015. According to the same research, less than 20% of the stolen trailers had a GPS tracking device installed.


Companies with large trailer fleets sometimes have difficulty keeping track of where each unit is located, where units have been, and fully utilizing available trailers.

“We don’t know what we don’t know”

Fleet managers need to know what inventory is available at any given moment to properly schedule pick up and deliveries. Most highly effective fleet managers have a good idea what they have available at various locations through daily, weekly, monthly inventory checks. But, sometimes, trailers that have not been used in past several months “get lost in the shuffle”. Units that have been sitting at a customer’s warehouse for past 6 months can be forgotten about. When a trailer shortage hits crisis mode at a trucking company, all hands scramble to locate all available units. Frantic phone calls, emails and text messages hit the airwaves tracking all available units. Using GPS tracking for trailers can make sure all units are accounted for and being implemented to fully utilize available inventory.

Another customer was telling me that when he was hired as the operations manager to a large regional TL carrier, his first responsibility was to fully utilize the trailer fleet. After gathering all company information on owned units then comparing that to availability of known units, he was short 223 trailers. That’s 223 trailers the company owns but has no idea where they are located. How does a manager fully utilize a fleet if the company is missing that many units?


It’s hard enough to keep up with Preventative Maintenance schedules (PMs) and insurance renewals (RN) on a fleet of trucks, then adding a sizeable fleet of trailers can make it even more difficult. Today’s GPS fleet management solutions allow fleet managers to easily keep track of all these schedules for their trucks which can easily be transitioned to their trailer fleet. When it is time for a trailer’s annual PM, fleet managers can easily locate the unit, work with dispatch to get that unit back to the terminal, perform the necessary work and get it back out on the road with minimal down time.

Same applies to keeping track of insurance RNs. If a company is working with various insurance RN dates on their equipment, it can be difficult to stay on top what needs to be reviewed and addressed. Today’s GPS tracking software can notify appropriate managers well in advance of renewals in order to properly review coverages, make adjustments and submit changes in plenty of time rather than scrambling at the last minute. Who likes to work under those circumstances?

In today’s business environment, companies are constantly looking for a competitive advantage within their respective industries to drive profits and increase ROI. The phrase “Spend a little to make a little” can easily be applied to GPS trailer tracking. Most GPS software providers offer lower pricing for trailers than truck or vehicles. The reason is trailer tracking devices typically only need to be pinged 1-2 times per day which saves on the amount data transferred from the device to the software system. Trailers do not need to be tracked continually throughout the day for delivery route optimization. That’s the job of the truck and driver.

EquipTrac specializes in working with businesses to help meet their GPS trailer tracking needs through our fully integrated GPS SaaS platform along with industry leading CalAmp trailer tracking devices.