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Geo-Fencing: Definition and Uses

By Robyn |

What is Geo-Fencing?

Geo-fencing is a term used in location-based technology and uses global positioning (GPS) to create a virtual boundary around a geographic location. Geo-fences are often used to track when a person, object, or vehicle leaves or enters a specific area. In order to enable a geo-fence, an administrative user sets parameters and coordinates for a certain location. When an object or person carrying a GPS tracker enters or leaves the designated geo-fence, an alert in the form of a text or email can be generated. Geo-fences are used for both personal and business use in variety of applications and industries such as law enforcement, healthcare, fleet management, and more.

Real World Applications in Fleet & Asset Management in the Transportation Industry

Geo-fences are often useful for Fleet Management and the Transportation industry and are usually paired with hardware devices as an added feature. Oftentimes, a geo-fence can be imported as a field into dispatch and route optimization systems as well or for query use. Commonly, a GPS tracking unit is placed on an asset such as a rail car, container, or truck, and an administrative user is then able to set up and receive notifications when those devices enter or leave a designated geo-fence.

There are two types of geo-fences: active and passive. Active geo-fences are used in an open application on a device such as a computer or phone and allow the user to see location and receive alerts related to that geo-fence. In contrast, a passive geo-fence only works in the background, uses low power consumption, and reports all data to back-end software. Passive geo-fences do not use GPS, so the user is not getting updates as they happen.

Monitor Shipment Arrival Time

A trucking company, for example, uses Lat-Lon’s geo-fencing capabilities to be notified of shipment arrival time. As soon as a driver enters the geo-fence, an alert triggers to assist in the prompt loading and unloading of cargo. This saves time and increases the efficiency of delivery operations where employees previously wouldn’t start the unloading or loading process until the shipment actually pulled into the facility.  With some software, the same capability exists with a virtual “trip wire.”

Avoid Costly Detention Fees

Another one of Lat-Lon’s customers regularly uses geo-fences to avoid costly detention fees. As soon as one of a rail car enters the drop off facility, the system is alerted. Detention fees are charged to carriers when they are stopped at the pickup or delivery location longer than the allotted time. Just as the previous example explained, the geo-fence minimizes detention fees by pre-announcing arrival in enough time for the customer to properly prepare for delivery and loading/unloading.

Adaptive Device Configuration & Geo-fencing

Lat-Lon has developed a technology called Adaptive Device Configuration that is able to analyze the data collected from GPS tracking units, and change reporting based on real-time input. This technology is especially useful when using geo-fences.

For example, one of Lat-Lon’s rail customers has a geo-fence placed around a manufacturing facility that they know is secure and that may only require data reports and updates once an hour. As soon as the train car with an ADC monitoring device leaves the plant, the tracking unit automatically updates its reporting to every 10 minutes, in order to improve security.

Similarly, other rail customers use such smart tracking technology in coordination with an accelerometer to determine when a train car is entering a yard and is likely to experience impacts. This way, the monitoring device increases the parameter of impact detection in the rail yard and decreases it once the device senses that the car has left the yard.

To find out if geo-fences could be a useful in tracking your assets or shipments, call 877-300-6566 or email us at support@lat-lon.com