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How to Choose a GPS for Commercial Vans and Vehicles?

Running a large fleet or operation is hard work, there is a lot to take into consideration. There are many factors to take into account such as cost, features, and implementation. The question is how to choose the best GPS for commercial vans and vehicles?

There doesn’t exist a specific GPS for a commercial van. So in this article, we will cover all commercial vehicles broadly and cover some of the features for trucks. As there is a lot of overlap, we hope that this answers any or all questions. In this article, we will look in-depth at what is GPS precisely; we’ll examine some definitions, a lot of useful features, and what type of units may be helpful to you.

What is a GPS, and Why Should You Care?

How Does it work?

GPS is an acronym, and it stands for “Global Positioning System.” This system consists of over 30 satellites that are in orbit around the early. These satellites send out signals regularly. We call these “senders.” When you use a device, like an iPhone, or iPad, or any smartphone, these have a receiver in them. These devices receive the signals emitted from the satellites. Your device will use the signals from 3 or more satellites to “triangulate” where you are exactly on the planet.

Background / Backstory

How a GPS Works

Like much of space exploration and space exploration, GPS started in the Cold War. The United States Government launched it. It was initially used by the Navy to track submarines, and later the Department of Defense wanted to create a satellite navigation system. It was initially launched in 1978 and was called NAVSTAR. It was fully working in 1993 when 24 satellites came operational. Nowadays, the US Government still owns the system. It is not restricted to military use as anyone can use it for personal and business reasons. If you want more information, check out NASA’s page on how it works.

Why is it So Important?

There are so many reasons why GPS is essential. It is used by many companies to track vehicles of all kinds, but it also has a great variety of use cases:

  • Track flights
  • Agriculture: Plot the route of the machinery, track agricultural yield;
  • Forestry: Assign sylvicultural work, track logging roads, and harvested trees;
  • Biology: Identify the location of vulnerable species;
  • Directions and deliveries: Be able to give deliveries and find driving directions;
  • Route Planning: Efficient route planning for various companies who need to visit multiple stops;
  • Truck drivers: Allow GPS navigation for truck drivers.
  • And much more.

For this article, we will look at more substantial vehicles such as truck GPS, commercial van, and other vehicles.

What You Need to Know About Commercial Vehicles

What Are the Types of Commercial Vehicles?

Types of Commercial Vehicles

A commercial vehicle is any kind of vehicle that companies use to move people, goods, or freight. There are many types of vehicles. We can create a division of these groups of vehicles by gross vehicle weight (GVW). The list below represents the different categories :

  • Light GVW: These are vehicles that have a GCW between 6000 and 14,000 lbs. This group includes the commercial van, the bus, and RVs.
  • Medium GVW: These are vehicles that have a GCW between 16,000 and 26,000 lbs. This group includes vehicles like the shuttle bus, bigger RVs, the school bus, and larger trucks.
  • Heavy GVW: These are vehicles that have a GCW between 26,000 lbs and more. This group includes tractors, heavier equipment, and even larger trucks.

What Makes an Operation Successful?

When you use a vehicle in your business, it comes with lots of costs and lots of opportunities. To be successful, one wants to reduce costs and increase the benefits. Here is a list of what makes a successful operation:

  • The lower acquisition cost of the commercial vehicle when you acquire it. This acquisition process includes proper sizing as well;
  • Low Keeping financing costs low (low-interest rates, or perhaps leasing);
  • Keeping Permits and licensing to the lowest;
  • Reduce maintenance cost (notably with preventative maintenance);
  • Keep fuel costs low;
  • Increased outputs (more deliveries, etc.)

Which Type of GPS Will Make Life Easier for You?

Two Types of GPS

There are two types of GPS navigation devices for truck drivers and other vehicles.

  • Physical GPS Device: This is what we usually think about as a GPS device. It’s the physical GPS device that is installed directly into your vehicle and attached to the dashboard. The leading companies that are manufacturing these devices are Garmin, Rand-McNally, and TomTom.
  • Digital / App-based Navigation: The second category is to use an app on a device like an iPhone or Android phone. There is a significant number of tools out there that provide a GPS app or GPS navigator. These navigation tools are a dime a dozen, however, and choosing the right one is essential.

What to Look for in a GPS? – Important Features to Consider

Important Features to Consider in GPS

Truckers and vehicle drivers have different navigation needs than the average consumer. All these drivers must meet a specific list of challenges and requirements. This list allows you to choose the features that are important to you:

  • Up-to-Date Maps: Mapping is critical in GPS navigation. This mapping includes up to date information on all road construction and road closures. For a trucking GPS, you want to include approved roadways as well. For the best truck GPS, it will consist of low bridges, speed limits, as well. Other features are underpasses, overpasses, highways, and other such areas.
  • Accurate Navigation: A user-friendly and effective navigation tool is another critical feature. Large vehicle or truck navigation routes are specific, and drivers require a particular aid of navigation. Great navigation tools include turn-by-turn directions, accessible inputs, and voice-to-text capabilities. Other features include lane guidance, etas, and similar driver-assist features.
  • Route Planning and Routes: A useful route planner will be able to calculate the shortest route, quickest routes. It will be able to optimize, including many factors such as traffic accidents, traffic information, traffic alerts, traffic updates, road construction sites, and other delays.
  • Monitoring of Restrictions: A useful GPS tool will be able to create routes while taking into consideration truck dimensions such as height limits, low bridges, safety and clearance conditions, bridge heights, weight limits and limitations, and size of the cargo of the vehicle.
  • Monitoring of Road Conditions: Another critical feature is to know about sharp turns and steep inclines. Ideally, the driver receives road alerts during their truck routing process.
  • Toggle for Toll roads: A right truck GPS unit will indicate the toll roads and have a feature that offers to toggle routing options on or off toll roads.
  • Directory of Points of interest: Many points of interest may be useful to know. These points include towing services, mechanics, weigh stations (or weight stations), rest areas, restaurants, best truck stops, hotels, rest stops, health care, police stations, emergency services locations, and more.
  • Fuel Savings Tools: Certain GPS devices can save fuel by reducing mileage by finding the shortest route. Also, it can help find the best fuel prices by comparing gas stations on the way and compare prices.
  • Data Management: Certain apps can log data relative to each vehicle and driver. This log is often called an Electronic logging device (ELD). An ELD allows us to create a record of all data as per the truck driver and to offer training and improvement to this driver. It also can enable the creation of reports on truck or vehicle usage, and create an automated maintenance schedule, as well as keep track of previous maintenance.
  • Screen Size: The screen size is critical in truck GPS navigation. A user may want large dimensions of the interface. The advantage of a larger screen mount is, of course, it allows us to better view the map.
  • Fleet Management Tools: Multiple trucks, multiple profiles, cargo management, fuel management, vehicle usage, notifications of start, and stop times.

For more information:
What is Fleet Management?

What are the Best GPS apps for Commercial Vehicles?

The truth is that there are no GPS units designed for a van. In this review, we will look at some of the truck GPS units that recommended for truck navigation and drivers. Many of the features are also applicable to other vehicles, such as fuel usage, creation of routes, and efficiency. Let’s review a few:

1 – Garmin DEZL 770LMTHD

This device is the gold standard for truck navigation. It includes many features useful for truck drivers such as low bridges, allowable truck routes, and sharp turns. The company will frequently update the technology, especially in the USA. It features a 7-inch touchscreen display, 2D and 3D maps, as well as the best path for the trucker and trailers.

Pros
  • Lifelong map update;
  • Very precise GPS;
  • Routes are specific, and voice commands are accurate;
  • 7″ display;
  • Easy and simple navigation.
Cons
  • Price is higher than subscription, although less than other GPS;
  • No ability to customize dashboard;
  • Inconsistency in routing options.

2 – Rand McNally OverDryve 7

Rand McNally is the other big player in the physical GPS world. The OverDryve 7 aims to be disruptive, and it delivers in many of these promises. It’s a large 7″ display that acts as a dashboard and an entertainment unit. It features Rand McNally’s detailed and updated maps, wi-fi connection software, and hands-free calling.

Pros
  • Intuitive and easy to use;
  • Wi-fi connectivity;
  • Full entertainment system capabilities;
Cons
  • Can be slow to load;
  • Issues with the ELD feature;
  • Magnet mount does not stick all the time.

3 – Trucker Path

If you want to go with an app, then look no further than Trucker Path. This app helps truck drivers find all the points of interest they need, including Walmarts, truck washes, gas stations, and more. It also provides a fuel price comparison tool, allowing you to save on fuel. Users can download this app on the app store or Google Playstore. It,s free and provides in-app purchases.

Pros
  • Plan routes and navigation;
  • Find many points of interest;
  • Includes a forum for truckers;
Cons
  • The free version has ads that reduce convenience;
  • Issues when checking weight;
  • Some crashes and bugs reported.

4 – CoPilot GPS/CoPilot Mobile Navigation

This app does have a complete feature set than trucker path. It also comes with a monthly price tag of $9,99 a month on iOS and Android. This app boasts many useful features: the ability to weight trailer and truck; directions to the destination, and they have great support.

Pros
  • Pin drop feature is accurate;
  • Frequent updates of app and traffic;
  • Offline navigation
Cons
  • Inaccuracies in some of the maps (see user reviews)
  • Does not include voice commands;
  • Bugs: App sometimes freezes;

FAQ

Is there a GPS for commercial vehicles?

No GPS exists specifically for all commercial vehicles. There are truck GPS units and apps, and there are GPS tools for route planning and delivery companies.


Is there a Special GPS for Truck Drivers?

Truck drivers have particular needs when it comes to creating routes and navigation. As such, there are many GPS physical units and apps that are designed specifically for truck drivers. Garmin, Rand McNally, and TomTom are the leading provider of physical GPS units. Otherwise, many digital GPS applications are available on the AppStore or Google Play.

Conclusion

We hope that this article was useful to you to help get a broader look at the different types of commercial vehicles that exist in operation as well as their challenges. We hope that we can help you navigate the landscape a little better and provide you with recommendations to help deal with the majority of the questions that you may have. Please let us know if you have any questions or feedback. You can contact us at any time with your comments, and until then, happy driving!

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