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Heavy Equipment Dealers Increase Profitability with GPS Tracking

Mon February 15, 2021 - National Edition
Del Williams

Heavy equipment dealers' profitability depends on efficiently renting out their assets and keeping it in good working order for the long term, whether that involves tractor-trailers, semi-trailers, or moving trailers; buses or RVs; backhoes, bulldozers, cranes, excavators, scrapers, graders, dump trucks, or all-terrain forklifts.

To maximize profitability, dealers need to know as soon as possible when the equipment is returning to the yard so it can be checked in, maintained and rented back out. Dealers with multiple locations often must know which equipment from other locations is readily available to be rented out, if it is not on-hand at the current location and a customer needs it.

In order to protect and preserve their assets for as long as possible, dealers also must deter theft and reckless use by customers. On top of this, if the dealer name/logo is emblazoned on vehicles for the public to see, it is vital to prevent any dangerous actions, such as speeding, that could hurt their brand or even invite liability in the case of serious accidents.

As a proactive response, a growing number of dealers are turning to real-time, 24/7 GPS tracking of their heavy equipment rentals to ensure better fleet management and faster rental turnaround. In addition, the same approach provides clear driver and operator accountability, which helps to reduce asset damage and prolong its usable life.

"Continuous GPS tracking enables dealers to instantly see where all of their heavy equipment assets are at any given moment, so they can know as soon as possible which will be ready to check in, service, and rent back out with minimal downtime," said Ben VanAvery, director of sales and marketing at Advanced Tracking Technologies, a Houston, Texas-based designer and manufacturer of GPS tracking products.

Compared with typical GPS tracking devices that may only update every few minutes, a system like ATTI's Shadow Tracker provides real-time location updates every 10-seconds, as well as location, speed and idle time alerts if something is amiss. This data is transmitted via satellite and cellular networks to a smartphone or PC on a 24/7 basis. The system has access to nationwide speed limits in its database.

According to VanAvery, via a PC or smartphone app dealers can display the real-time location of the entire fleet on a map, and zoom in on any specific vehicle. At a glance, they can see if a vehicle is moving (displays green) or stopped (displays red). If they touch a vehicle icon, the app will display where the vehicle has been, where it stopped, and how long it has idled.

"By zooming in or out on the map, dealers can look where the heavy equipment assets are anywhere in the country, so it is easy to see if another location has equipment available to be rented out, if not available in the nearest yard," said VanAvery.

Such GPS tracking, of course, helps not only to prevent the theft of heavy vehicles and equipment, but also aids in its swift recovery, if it is ever necessary. Law enforcement, for instance, could be provided a relatively precise location of anything stolen at virtually any moment in time.

Because renters can be notified that the system monitors speed, this capability can also serve as deterrent to speeding, if consequences are imposed on them, such as an increased rate, loss of a portion of the security deposit, or refused rental in the future. This can help to minimize the risk of accidents, damage, and excess wear and tear. This facilitates extending the equipment's usable life, while minimizing pre-mature repair and maintenance.

With better renter driving encouraged by active monitoring, this approach also could reduce tickets and potential liability, and may even help to lower the cost of insurance. In addition, it can assist in protecting the dealer's good name in the community.

As a value-added service for longer term renters, dealers can even provide the capability of monitoring rented assets to a customer or his or her project managers. This can be provided by essentially downloading an app and supplying the customer with a user password.

While heavy equipment rental dealers already keep tabs on their assets via phone, text, and email with customers on an individual basis, advanced GPS trackers dramatically streamline the process of renting out equipment. It does so by making the entire fleet's location and availability instantly visible, without having to interact with the customer.

This, in conjunction with the ability to encourage greater renter accountability, can significantly enhance profitability, while prolonging the usable life of the fleet.

For a free demo, visit

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