Ever order anything from Amazon? Even they offer load tracking – just click on your order and you’ll see the last time it was checked in on their system. Load tracking is here and we truckers need to figure out how it’s going to impact us.

Major types of load tracking

Freight GPS Tracking Apps

The driver installs an app on his smartphone that tracks his truck location which reports back to the shipper via a dashboard. The app promises to only track the freight location and not the driver when on break or off duty. Let’s be honest here: most of us don’t like the idea that Big Brother is in our back pocket.

Installed GPS system

These GPS systems are installed in the truck. Some installed ELD programs also have a GPS component that reports regularly via Bluetooth through the driver’s cell phone. Others report via satellite link.

Individual Load Tracking Devices

We’ve heard stories about freight that was stolen and recovered because of individual tracking devices placed in the packing or on the pallets. When shippers require this type of security, it may be because of the value of the freight or the need to be vigilant about the location for Just In Time deliveries.

Driver/System Reporting

A load is tracked when it’s transferred from one location to another: from one freight dock to another to the delivery vehicle and then to the front door. This is how Amazon and most delivery services report to their customers. It is based on the system checking the routing slips on the packaging and reporting. There’s no on-the-road monitoring of the freight, only when it’s received and recorded.

This system tracks the packages and may depend on a driver reporting. Long truck trips across country may not have a daily check-in through a computerized system. That’s when the broker may call the trucker to check on the status of the load.

The New Normal

Knowing where a shipment is located isn’t a new thing. FedEx and UPS have been offering it for years. Even the US Postal Service offers it. People expect to be able to log into a tracking program to know where their shipment is – even if it’s a $5.00 trinket they ordered for Christmas.

While truckers don’t like the idea of being tracked, this is the new normal. Load tracking is going to be with us for a long time, so it’s important for truckers to know what their options are.

Some companies demand that their drivers have GPS systems installed in their vehicles. If you’re a hired driver, you may have no choice. If you’re contracted or leased on to a shipping company, you should know what they expect and make your decision accordingly.

It may not be a change you like but however you look at it, load tracking is here to stay in the logistics industry.