Fleet tracking system offers peace of mind to contractor serving areas with no reliable phone service
Fortunately, it’s a little-used feature, but fleet tracking systems often include a panic button, a security feature designed to give truck drivers an ability to alert the home office that something is wrong — anything from being lost to being threatened.
The panic button isn’t usually needed, but for some of the drivers of Desarrollos y Servicios in Chihuahua, Mexico, it could one day literally be a lifesaver. The company provides portable restrooms for oil and gas companies building pipelines in Mexico. To do so they deploy crews to extremely remote locations where dangerous drug cartels are roaming about, and roads and phone service are often nonexistent.
Although drivers are trained to be self-sufficient and can make repairs and change tires, if a serious situation arose they’d be in real trouble if they couldn’t contact someone.
The company purchased tracking software about three years ago for their route work but to ensure it could also be used in remote areas they had to find a system that operated off a satellite. “Most coordinate through a telephone signal,” explains Andres Valles, owner of the company, along with his brother, Ricardo, and sister, Victoria. “But if we’re up in the middle of nowhere in the mountain ranges, there’s no telephone signal so it’s no good to us.” He discovered there weren’t a lot of companies providing satellite systems at an affordable price, but he finally found one from GPSMonitor Mexico.
If a driver hits the panic button, a signal is sent to the central office. “Then we contact the mining base camp and have somebody from there try to contact the driver,” Valles explains. “Or they’ll send somebody to check it out.” The pipeline companies — and other major customers — are given access to the tracking software through a temporary login feature so they know where the trucks are at all times.
Fortunately, the company’s drivers have yet to use the panic button, but it does bring peace of mind, Valles says.