Keeping your equipment safe is important, regardless of whether you’re on the job or back at the shop. Chances are, you keep your high-cost equipment under lock and key whenever possible; it’s locked up tight in the shop, and your trailer stays locked unless you need to get into it. Is that enough security to keep your equipment safe, however?
Many contractors put alarms in their trailers, arming them so they go off whenever anyone tries to access the trailer without permission. Sometimes you’ll see thieves steal entire trailers, though. The alarm isn’t going to help much if the thief can just take it to a more secluded location before trying to open the trailer up. This is where GPS can come in handy.
GPS on Your Trailer
You’re probably already at least somewhat familiar with GPS as a concept. You’ve likely used it for directions, and may even have used GPS features to find a lost phone or other piece of computer equipment. There’s a lot more that you can do with GPS, however.
Installing a GPS unit on your trailer lets you track the position of your trailer regardless of where you are. In many cases, the GPS can locate the trailer within a few feet. If the signal is interrupted, some systems can even tell you the last location where a signal was picked up so that you can find it even if it’s indoors or in other places that the signal can’t get through.
In addition to trailer GPS systems, you may also find GPS units that you can attach to individual pieces of equipment. These are typically smaller and run on internal batteries, but offer additional peace of mind since they’ll help you track your valuable equipment even if it’s removed from the trailer. This is very important if you have equipment in your trailer that is essential to your business, especially if it’s high-cost or specialty equipment. GPS devices are also important if there are items that your business only owns one of but that you need to take out onto the job with you.
If there’s a drawback to equipment-specific GPS devices, it’s that they are often a bit easier to notice than trailer GPS units. Unlike the trailer-mounted units, there isn’t any other equipment installed for the GPS device to blend in with. To get the most out of equipment-specific GPS devices, you’ll need to spend extra time finding the perfect mounting point where it’s unlikely to be noticed.
There are two types of cost associated with GPS devices: Up-front costs and subscription costs. Because of the nature of GPS devices, many require an annual subscription fee in addition to what you pay for the unit (though some include anywhere from 1 to 5 years of service in the fee). Up-front costs can run anywhere from $20 to $50 or more, while subscription fees can be $12-$20 per month (or $100-$200 per year). Units that include subscription time in the up-front cost obviously cost more at the time of purchase; you can expect to pay $150-$300 or more depending on how much service time is included.
Depending on how the GPS unit is set up, there may also be additional costs in the form of battery backup units or other optional equipment that will help you get the most out of your device. Some units hook directly in to the power in your trailer, while others have their own power sources or can be powered by batteries or even solar panels.
Using Your GPS
Once you’ve installed GPS devices, they can be monitored at any time from the receiver software associated with the device. In most cases, this will be an app on your smartphone or tablet; there are some GPS devices that may have their own special receiver, however. Turning on the receiver shows you the current location that the GPS signal is coming from, leading you to the device (or at least the last location that the device transmitted from).
If your equipment is stolen, it’s important that you go to the police with the information and show them the GPS signal. This will not only protect you in case the thieves pose a danger, but it will also help ensure that they are brought to justice. Recovery rates for GPS-enabled trailers and equipment are high, so there’s no reason that your first stop shouldn’t be your local police department.