Taking Care of Your Fleet Tracking System in Cold Weather or Over the Winter
When you invest in GPS fleet tracking technology, you want to make sure it lasts so that you can truly get your money’s worth. While it’s relatively easy to prevent physical damage to your devices with proper installation and protective cases, there are certain hazards that are much more difficult to control. When it comes to electronics, exposure to extreme temperatures is one of the greatest of such hazards.
In this article, we’ll take a look at how winter temperatures can affect your GPS tracking system, as well as how you and your company can prevent weather-related issues before they can start.
How Fleet Tracking System Technology Works
The actual specifications of fleet track technology vary between GPS companies, but systems typically include a GPS tracking device that stays in the truck as well as some manner of wireless receiving device to obtain the data. In a US Fleet Tracking system, the recipient device can be any internet-enabled device that can access our convenient, web-based tracking and GPS fleet management interface.
Depending upon the intent behind the installation or the policies of the company, such GPS trackers can be installed with the drivers’ knowledge or covertly (to monitor potential issues with drivers). Once installed, these systems provide GPS location updates at regular intervals. US Fleet Tracking’s AT-V4 4G LTE tracker, for example, provides a live tracking feed that can update in either 5- or 10-second increments.
Why Is Cold Weather So Harsh on the Equipment?
The main reason cold weather can be so tough on electronic equipment is that it can affect the internal components. While many of today’s ubiquitous technologies can be quite resilient in cold, other devices can be susceptible to significant issues in above-zero cold temperatures.
Batteries in many devices struggle to function properly in extreme, cold temperatures; think about your car battery, for example. LCD screens can also fail in below-freezing temperatures, making reading information or navigating menus near impossible.
In devices that have a hard disk drive (in particular, one that uses fluid dynamic bearings to spin), single-digit Fahrenheit temperatures can cause the fluid to thicken and the drive to fail to boot. Usually, this problem resolves after the device is brought into a warmer environment, but repeated switching between extreme cold and warm areas can cause severe damage.
There is a risk of such damage whenever you bring GPS monitor equipment indoors after having been outside in a freezing truck for several hours. Have you ever noticed that when individuals who wear glasses step indoors after being out in the cold will suddenly find themselves dealing with fogged up lenses?
Yes, just like on a cold beverage, this is caused by the condensation of water in reaction to the cold temperature of the glasses lenses. While you may not notice it, this can happen to the interior workings of electronic equipment, too, introducing damaging moisture.
How to Avoid System Problems in Low Temperatures
Now that you know how cold temperatures can affect electronics, let’s talk about how you can avoid disaster altogether. The following are just a few of the ways in which you can prevent both your GPS tracker and receiving devices from dropping too far in temperature:
- Install devices in a location in the truck that will not be easily affected by changes in temperature (e.g., somewhere in the cabin).
- Keep truck cabin temperatures above freezing by running the heat appropriately.
- Consider using an electric heating pad or blanket to keep equipment warm in severe temperatures or when the truck is not in use.
- Invest in a high-quality, durable truck tracking system that is more resilient to lower temperature (e.g., the CloudSat3).
- Keep all sending and receiving devices (tablets, laptops, smartphones, etc.) indoors or in a warm area and avoid moving them between extreme cold and warm temperatures if possible.
Some of these suggestions may be difficult to employ if your trackers are installed covertly, so it may be worth your while to consider how you can keep your GPS equipment warm before it’s installed.
Winter Driving Risks
The effect of winter weather on electronic equipment isn’t the only potential risk to your fleet GPS equipment, of course; poor driving conditions, low visibility, and icy roads can be just as dangerous for your equipment—not to mention your drivers.
Always make sure that your fleet is properly winterized and prepared for snow, ice, and slush in the colder months. Keep vehicle maintenance up to date, change out tires as needed, check brakes and ensure that headlights and windshields allow for maximum visibility.
Hire drivers who have good driving records and a strong sense of responsibility and respect for safety. Continue to keep all of your drivers trained on safe driving, and keep an eye on their GPS tracking information to make sure that they aren’t prone to speeding or making other unsafe choices with their truck.
Although your fleet efficiency and timeliness are extremely important to your business, it’s also important to know as a company when to keep your drivers off the road. Have a discussion with the appropriate staff to determine at what point you’ll say driving conditions are too dangerous to continue. Ultimately, ensuring the safety of your employees and other drivers on the road will give your company a positive reputation for responsibility.
Invest in Durable, High-Quality Fleet Tracking Systems from US Fleet Tracking
At US Fleet Tracking, we offer a range of wireless, versatile GPS trackers that interface easily with our online tracking and management system. Our unique tracking interface is completely web-based, which means you’ll never have to install software or worry about whether a given computer or mobile device can run it properly.
US Fleet Tracking offers the following models of GPS trackers that will all operate in temperatures as low as -30° Celsius for fleet monitoring and management:
- AT-V4: 4G LTE connectivity and live 5- or 10-second tracking updates
- AT-V3: Water-resistant housing, great for marine vehicles, cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc.
- AT-V3 Pro: GPS and 3G connectivity with live 5- or 10-second tracking updates
- NT-V3: GPS and 3G connectivity, dispatch, and communications capabilities
- NT-V3ia: GPS and 3G connectivity, provides Geofence/speed alert notifications
- OBD-V3: Snaps into OBDII port of most vehicles, can be used to monitor fuel usage
- PT-V3: GPS and 3G connectivity, transmits every 20 feet on foot and every 5 or 10 seconds in a moving vehicle
- PT-V3 Pro: Same as PT-V3, but with extended battery time of 75 hours
- CloudSat3: GPS and satellite connectivity, can operate at temperatures as low as -30° C (-22° F)
For years, US Fleet Tracking has been helping companies around the world manage live asset and vehicle tracking with great coverage and strong reliability. We’ve even been the tracking choice of a number of major events, including 11 Super Bowls, one Pro Bowl, one NHL All Star Game, two Olympics (winter and summer) and even the Republican National Convention.
If you’re looking for a trusted, experienced GPS company to help you keep track of your fleet for any reason, we’re here to help. To learn more about what we can do for you or to purchase a GPS tracking system today, give us a call at (405) 726-9900.