The ability to track trucks and semi trailers using GPS (Global Positioning System) technology is essential to efficient and effective operations and fleet management. Using telematics to monitor when and where rigs are traveling can help you reduce fuel usage, complete more jobs in a given time period and provide better customer service, to mention just a few of the advantages.

Many trucks and semi trailers today are equipped with tracking systems that use the 3G (third-generation) networks of the major wireless network carriers, or even their 2G offerings in some cases. Those networks have worked well for transportation companies—and companies that handle their own transportation needs—for years.

However, new technology is now available that’s more “spectrally efficient,” meaning that it delivers more data per hertz than older systems. Newer generation systems also have lower latency or lag times. In short, 4G moves more data faster than 3G, and the same is true with 5G as compared to 4G. Because of these advances, wireless providers are in the process of phasing out their 2G and 3G networks.

That’s a “good news, bad news” scenario. The good news is that GPS tracking will be even faster and more effective when it leverages the new technology. The bad news is that 3G system users that don’t transition to the new technology will find their GPS tracking no longer functions after their 3G network’s “sunset” or shutdown.

It’s important to note that while a particular carrier may say when their 3G network will be discontinued, it’s possible that their 3G service will be inconsistent before that date. This is because many carriers have “roaming agreements” that let them use the towers of other carriers at times. If those other carriers have discontinued 3G, service may be unavailable in certain areas.

The bottom line: You should make the transition away from 3G as soon as possible.

7 Steps for Making the Move to New GPS Tracking Technology

Moving to a faster version of your preferred carrier’s wireless network—or a new network—is easy when you follow these seven steps:

  1. Get the official word on your current network. When will your provider’s 3G network be deactivated? It’s important that you get the official word from them. Relying on something you heard from one of your peers or read in an article may come back to haunt you if the provider changes to an earlier date and you are unaware.
  2. Research networks. Having to move to a new network provides the perfect opportunity for moving to a new provider if you choose to. Is better service or lower pricing available on the routes your trucks and semi trailers travel? Maybe. If so, the time invested in doing your homework will pay significant dividends both in terms of a better relationship with your provider and in cost savings.
  3. Research telematics devices. After you decide on the network you’ll use for your GPS tracking, you should assess what type/brand of telematics device is best for your purposes. It could be that it’s the brand you’re using now. Or maybe another provider has devices with more of the features and functions you need. But you should look into it. Good news: If you rent or lease semi trailers, the work to determine what devices work best in those trailers will be done for you by the provider.
  4. Perform an inventory of your existing devices. As you get ready to swap old devices for new ones, it’s crucial to know exactly how many devices you have and where they are. The last thing you want is to put in the time and effort to make the switch only to discover later that you forgot to do the upgrade in one of your rigs and it’s now “offline” until you can find time to do the work on it.
  5. Assess time requirements and formulate an upgrade plan. How long will it take to upgrade the telematics device in one truck and semi trailer? How many rigs do you operate? It’s important to get a “big picture perspective” on this project. Once you know the amount of work you’re looking at, and also your upcoming transportation commitments, you can make a plan for when each rig will be upgraded. A driver returns on Thursday evening and doesn’t have another trip planned until Saturday morning? Slot that rig to be worked on Friday morning!
  6. Stay in contact with schedulers and drivers. Ditching your 3G GPS devices may be top-of-mind for you, but for others in your company, it may just be a project they heard something about in a meeting and quickly dismissed since they have other, more pressing concerns and because somebody else is doing the upgrades. Explain to your team that making the switch is crucial to ongoing operations and that everyone’s awareness and assistance are vital.
  7. Execute the cutover according to your plan and then test every install. The second part of this step is essential. You shouldn’t assume that a newly installed device is working properly—confirm that it is. And just because you tested one rig and the GPS tracking works flawlessly doesn’t mean the same will be true in other rigs.

Staying on the Cutting Edge of Semi Trailer GPS Tracking Technology

At Boxwheel, we understand how important GPS tracking is to effective fleet management. We also know that the technology available for this purpose is constantly evolving.

That’s why we stay informed about changes in the transportation industry and upgrade the technology in our rented semi trailers and leased semi trailers—whether they’re used for storage, cartage or over-the-road purposes—as soon as new systems have been launched and are proven to work as intended in real-world scenarios.

If you rent or lease a semi trailer of any kind from us—dry van trailer, refrigerated trailer, flatbed trailer, etc.—you can be confident that it has all the technology you need.

Learn More About Boxwheel’s Approach to the 3G Sunset

How has Boxwheel prepared for the 3G sunset? We’re happy to talk with you about our process. Interested in learning about our inventory of flatbeds, dry van trailers, liftgate trailers and refrigerated trailers for rent or lease? We’d love to talk with you about that, as well. Contact us whenever it’s convenient for you.

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