Wednesday, 21 December 2011

1915 miles, 4 days.
This short trip would have been 3 days and I would have got another trip done before Christmas but the shipper in Chicago didn't want to play. I waited 4 hours for them to load my trailer and start my journey home. That meant I didn't get out of Illinois before running out of time Saturday night and as a result didn't get home till 8.00 Monday morning.
Not to worry it has given me a nice break before Christmas.

How have GPS Trackers changed trucking? 
Satellite controlled devices are quickly becoming a standard piece of kit in trucks all over the world, if you work for one of the larger trucking companies the chances are they are using satellites to keep an eye on you and keep you safe, even if you work for yourself using satellites for navigation can make a days work a lot easier.  RAM GPS Trackers are a British company that install a lot of these fleet management devices and have written a brief explanation on how these devices work.
The origins of GPS
Like a lot of modern technology GPS has it’s origins in the U.S. Military the satellites that are used to help navigate and track your truck were originally designed to guide missiles and smart bombs.  Using satellites has completely changed the nature of warfare; during WWII bombs dropped from a high altitude could land over a half a mile away from their target and still be counted as a hit.  Now however missiles and bombs are guided by satellites and are expected to land within meters of the desired target.  This means it’s not only possible to hit individual buildings but sometimes isolated rooms of buildings.  The result is that civilian casualties can be minimised and fighting can be a lot cleaner.
As with a lot of technologies as GPS has developed domestic and business uses have been found for it prices have fallen and satnavs have become available not just to professional drivers but also to individuals.
How does it work?
There are two kinds of tracking systems, ‘active’ and ‘passive’ trackers.  If your trucks location can be monitored by your company or even your family online your system will be using active tracking, if you just have a satnav device that helps you determine your location it will most likely be using passive tracking.
The technology behind the two tracking systems is essentially the same.  The device in your vehicle searches the skies for signals being broadcast from navigational satellites orbiting the earth.  Your devices are able to work out exactly how far away it is from the satellite by calculating the time taken for the signal to reach you.  As long as the device has been able to read three or more signals it is able to triangulate your position and give an accurate reading of where you are.   If the device monitors how quickly your position changes it is also able to calculate the direction and velocity that you are travelling at.
There are twenty seven navigational satellite currently orbiting the earth (each weighing between three and four thousand pounds!), twenty four of these need to be operational at all times to ensure that the whole planet has satellite coverage, the remaining three are on standby ready to activate instantly if something should happen to the others ensuring that the whole planet can always be covered.
Passive tracking
Passive tracking devices are most commonly used for navigation, after calculating your position the device can compare it to internally stored maps and tell you exactly where you are.  It can then use its software to work out the best route to get to a selected location and give you directions.  Other uses of passive tracking include geo tagging photos, or offering you location based advertising on your cell phone.

Active tracking
Active tracking is where your position is then uploaded to the internet using a GPRS connection.  This is the same connection that mobile phones use, so it will only work if there is network reception.  Once your position is uploaded to the internet anyone who has permission to access this information can see exactly where you are and exactly what speed you’re travelling at.  This is useful for large trucking companies who want to see exactly where there assets are allowing them to check they are safe.  Some delivery companies use this information to quickly find out who their closest asset is to a pick up.  Families of truck drivers away from home for prolonged periods of time are often also able to access this information to keep track of their loved ones progress and check they are ok easily.  Outside of the trucking industry this technology is also very useful to the emergency services that can quickly send the closest response team to an incident and easily track their progress.
The future of GPS trackers
The price and sophistication of this technology are constantly improving, and new innovations seem to always be around the corner.  The latest cell phones can already use GPS trackers to completely change their behaviour depending on where you are but what are the next changes likely to be for truckers?  Well Google have just patented technology that allows a vehicle to drive its self using satellite navigation, the self drive car has been a fantasy for years but GPS trackers means it might not be too far from reality.  What could this mean for the trucking industry?

Thursday, 15 December 2011

2740 miles, 5 days

My new iphone
Just a quick visit home to reset my hours and then get another trip in before Christmas. Christmas won't be the same for us this year, Gary and Craig both have their own place, the other side of their family to visit so this year we are planning Christmas dinner on the 23rd, it's the only time we could all manage to get together with work and family gatherings.
Sue goes back to work on 26th so I have decided I may as well do the same.
After a few weeks deliberating about which phone I should get I eventually decided on the iphone, once I work out how to use it I think I will be very happy with it ;-))

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

5113 miles, 10 days
Free ride

Hunting with Gary and Craig

My ride for 1 trip

No need to move house, take it with you.

In Laredo, Tx with Chris Arborn

Too much snow in 1 night.
Once again I have fallen behind with this blog so I have left a couple of trips out and brought you right up to date.
I am home for a few days and have our Christmas party on Thursday, once again Andy and Donna are taking us to Winnipeg for the evening for food and entertainment at "Celebrations".
I only managed to get hunting for 1 day this year and didn't have much luck, well didn't have any luck.
Work is still good and I had to do a short trip in Andy's truck while I had a new radiator fitted in mine.
My last trip took me out of the frozen north down to Laredo, Tx on the Mexican border. I arrived there on Sunday afternoon and soon discovered on Monday that I was unable to deliver until 9.00am Tuesday.
There was a few of us down there with loads from the same place, one of which was fellow Brit, blogger and author Chris Arborn so lots of coffee consumed that day.
One advantage of not being able to deliver until Tuesday was I had now reset my hours and was ready to go anywhere again.
As it happened I got a load out of La Porte, Tx going to Calgary, Ab. as I couldn't load until Wednesday morning there was no rush but that would only get me to Calgary for Saturday with the delivery on Monday.
The advantage we have at Penners is having multiple terminals and I was instructed to just switch trailers on arrival in Calgary and take the other load on to Winnipeg.
So all in all a very nice 5113 miles in 10 days which includes the waiting time in Laredo.