Trailer Tracking: Everything You Need to Know

There are millions of registered trailers in fleets across North America. And, by some estimates, up to 20% of them are sitting idle at any given time – clearly an inefficient use of assets that could be generating revenue.

Motor carriers are often unsure about the exact location, health and readiness of their trailers. It can all add up to lost revenue, lost opportunities and frustrated drivers who may go looking for work elsewhere.

The solution is trailer tracking.

Trailer tracking ensures that you always know where your trailers are. And compatible advanced trailer telematics technology takes it even further by providing insights into trailer health and readiness.

In this guide. we’ll cover everything you need to know about trailer tracking, smart trailer technology, and things to consider when choosing a trailer tracking solution.

What is a Trailer Tracker?

A trailer tracker – also known as an asset tracker – is a GPS device that is attached to a trailer. Trailer trackers are typically battery or solar powered. They send (or “report”) the trailer’s location to the cloud via cellular connection. On the other end, a back-office user can view the location of the trailer on a digital dashboard. Depending on the product, trailer trackers can report in real-time or at regular intervals of minutes or hours.

What is Smart Trailer Technololgy?

Smart trailer technology extends the benefits of traditional trailer tracking by adding a variety of sensors to provide data on the health and readiness of a trailer, including:

  • Whether there is an ABS issue
  • Tire pressure and temperature
  • How often the ATIS is running
  • Whether a trailer is loaded
  • The status of the trailer door
  • Temperature of a reefer van

These insights allow you to monitor fleet safety, increase utilization and make smart decisions to increase profitability and improve driver satisfaction.

Benefits of Trailer Tracking for Carriers

The core benefit of trailer tracking is knowing the location of your trailers at any given moment. However, when paired with smart trailer sensors, trailer tracking technology becomes exponentially more powerful.

Smart trailer tracking can help you:

Maximize Revenue

Trailer Utilization

Before a trailer can generate revenue, you need to answer the questions: Where is it? Is it safe? Is it ready? Smart trailer technology puts that crucial information at your fingertips, helping to ensure that your trailer assets are making money for your business, rather than sitting unused.

Detention Management

Time lost to detention costs the U.S. trucking industry more than $3 billion a year, according to a Federal Motor Carrier Association study. Smart trailer technology enables carriers to more accurately track and bill for detention time.

Fleet Size and Allocation

Improved trailer utilization may reveal that you’re able to do more with fewer trailers, providing the opportunity to streamline your fleet. Likewise, smart trailer technology can provide insights on how to best allocate your trailer fleet to meet business demands and extend the life of your trailers.

Theft and Cargo Loss

Cargo theft amounts to $35 billion in losses each year, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Trailer tracking and geofencing coupled with door and cargo sensors can alert fleet managers to a trailer door being opened when it shouldn’t be. GPS tracking can also aid in the recovery of lost or stolen trailers.

Free download: The ROI of smart trailer tracking

Improve Safety and Compliance

Fleet safety and regulatory compliance are critical to protecting your drivers and the public, maintaining good CSA scores and ensuring that your business can keep making money. Smart trailer tracking supports those goals with an array of sensors that can alert you to when there is a critical issue with a trailer.

Brakes: Monitor the health of your brakes and ABS lamp function, and identify potential problems before they happen.

Tires: Get real time insights into tire pressure and temperature, and the operation of automatic inflation systems.

Lights: Know if you have a light out before your driver gets on the road.

Temperature: Monitor the temperature of refrigerated trailers to ensure you’re meeting FSMA guidelines.

Improve Driver Satisfaction

Driver retention was among the American Transportation Research Institute’s Top 10 Trucking Industry Issues for 2020. And a survey by Professional Driver Agency found that equipment quality is among the top three factors that make a carrier attractive to drivers. Smart trailer solutions can help do away with many of the day-to-day headaches that could prompt drivers to seek work elsewhere.

Trailer Location

Too often, drivers are dispatched to a trailer that isn’t where it’s supposed to be. The result for the driver: wasted on-duty time, lost income and a lot of frustration. Smart trailer tracking eliminates this problem, giving you the exact location of all your equipped trailers.

Trailer Health

Even if you know where your trailer is, if it’s not roadworthy your driver isn’t going to be happy. Smart trailer sensors communicate information about tires, brakes and lights – even when the trailer isn’t connected to a tractor – so you’ll never send a driver to a broken trailer.

Trailer Readiness

A cargo sensor can help you ensure that a trailer is ready to roll. As Jim Epler of EROAD partner Phillips Connect explains: “You can’t imagine how many times drivers go to pick up a trailer and it’s got dunnage in it, or it’s loaded, and it’s supposed to be empty.”

Watch the webinar: Improve fleet operations with smart trailer tracking and fleet management

How to Choose a Trailer Tracker

When weighing your trailer tracker options, it’s important to consider your current needs, such as wanting a basic device that will provide trailer location. However, you should also try to anticipate what your needs may be in the future.

As previously discussed, smart trailer technology has many benefits to offer beyond location data alone, so it’s important to select a product that can both fulfill your immediate needs and expand as your needs change and grow. EROAD’s StealthNet product, for instance, offers affordable, industry-leading trailer tracking along with a host of Bluetooth sensors that can be added later to monitor everything from tire pressure to reefer temperature.

Other things to keep in mind when selecting a trailer tracker include:

  • Ease of install
  • Reporting reliability
  • Reporting frequency
  • Durability
  • Lifespan

Download the free guide: 5 Questions to ask when choosing a trailer tracking solution

Related Information

The ROI of Smart Trailer Tracking

Smart trailer technology uses GPS and sensors to provide real-time trailer tracking along with accurate, reliable data that can help carriers monitor fleet safety and utilization and make smart decisions to increase profitability and improve driver satisfaction.

Tractor-trailer for EROAD trailer telematics blog

4 Big Benefits of Smart Trailer Tracking for Fleets

When left unchecked, reefer units can run through unexpected amounts of fuel, significantly impacting your bottom line. Inefficient pre-cooling, trailers being used unexpectedly as storage units, and trailers getting lost in the yard are all common ways to rack up an expensive fuel bill.

Tractor-trailer for EROAD trailer telematics blog

5 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Trailer Tracking Solution

Here are 5 questions to ask when weighing your options to ensure that you maximize the powerful benefits that trailer tracking has to offer.

Tractor-trailer for EROAD trailer telematics blog

Beat the Trailer Shortage with Trailer Telematics

A telematics system with GPS trailer tracking and connected sensors that monitor trailer health and cargo status can give you the edge when it comes to doing more with your existing trailer fleet.

Trailer Tracking Solutions from EROAD

EROAD has partnered with industry leader Phillips Connect to offer a full range of smart trailer and asset tracker devices that provide motor carriers with powerful insights into the location and health of their trailers and other assets.

  • EROAD Asset Tracker powered by Philips Connect allows you to check lights, brakes and tire pressure remotely, making sure your driver, trailer and loads are safe before they hit the road.
  • EROAD Asset Tracker devices install in minutes, easily connecting into your trailer’s data network and providing critical safety and status information, along with reliable reporting across your entire fleet.
  • EROAD Asset Tracker devices are designed to withstand the harsh conditions that commercial trucks operate in. Built to last, these devices are upgradable with add-on sensors that expand the data you monitor.

Contact us today to learn more about EROAD Asset Tracker Powered by Phillips Connect.