Load Tracking: Why It’s Important, How to Get Set Up and Pros and Cons

Flatbed truck hauling plastic piping down highway in arizona

Technology is intertwined with your personal life. Cell phones, computers, tablets, smartwatches and televisions have been jostling for your attention off the clock for more than a decade. On the clock, these things are becoming more and more integrated into the work you do as a truck driver (or member of a trucking company). 

GPS load-tracking software has existed in the transportation industry for years now. 

Spurred by what many are calling the “Amazon effect” shippers across the world want visibility over where their cargoes are, from the moment they pick up to when they deliver. As the party responsible for hauling it, providing these insights falls on carriers. That said, if you’ve never enabled tracking on the loads you’ve hauled, it’s understandable to have questions about this process like. . .

  • “Why do I need to provide tracking?”
  • “How much does it cost to provide tracking?”
  • “Isn’t this an infringement on my autonomy?”

Here at Anderson Trucking Service (ATS), we understand where you’re coming from; not only do we operate a trucking company ourselves, but we also run a freight brokerage, ATS Logistics, which works with carriers every day (some of them enable tracking — about 85 percent — and others don’t).

To help you understand why your company would be asked to provide tracking on a shipment, why you should consider it and how to do so, this article covers four topics:

How is Load Tracking Done?

Load tracking is the process of sending progressive updates regarding the location of a shipment in transit. Usually, these GPS “pings” are sent at regular intervals  — every 15-60 minutes — from the truck hauling the load to the shipper/broker charged with arranging it. 

GPS digital freight tracking can be done in two ways:

  1. Through a third-party mobile application  
  2. Through an integration with the truck’s electronic logging device

1) Through a Third-Party Mobile Application

There are a handful of third-party mobile applications that specialize in creating GPS load-tracking visibility between a trucking company and its customer(s). The most popular of these tools are MacroPoint and TruckerTools

In practice, if you don’t already have these apps installed, you’ll receive an email or text message from the broker/company you’re hauling for, asking you to enable tracking on a load. From here, you’ll be prompted to download the app and accept GPS tracking. All told, this should take a matter of minutes to set up. 

2) Through an Integration With the Truck’s Electronic Logging Device

Digital freight location signals can be sent from your truck’s electronic logging device (ELD) directly to your customers’/brokers’ transportation management system (TMS). Though it’s up to you, this is a common way to create visibility without having to utilize a personal mobile device.

With one of these systems in place, your truck(s) can provide visibility to customers at each step of their freight’s journey.

Professional Truck Driver On Cell Phone in Truck

How Much Does it Cost to Allow Tracking on Your Truck?

For the most part, you won’t pay anything to enable digital load tracking on the shipments you haul. Brokerages and shippers pay the expense of employing systems like MacroPoint and TruckerTools. All you have to do is accept tracking requests and install the appropriate app/software. 

That said, this is still a bit of an ask and you’re not legally required to accept these requests. So, should you enable tracking going forward?

Why Enable Tracking as a Trucking Company?

It’s not uncommon for trucking companies to question whether providing tracking information while under a load is worth it. It’s not exactly the most comfortable thing, after all. 

However, as companies around the world become more digitally reliant and the speed of information gets faster and faster, it’s hard to envision a world where load tracking isn’t available whenever a shipper wants it. More than 80 percent of the trucking companies ATS Logistics works with allow tracking. 

To this point, this is a competitive advantage for these carriers — only carriers that allow tracking can haul freight for companies that require it. 

In the future, load tracking will continue to be a focus area for companies as it helps them plan, manage their resources and make decisions. As such, being a resource for tracking data makes your trucking company more attractive to freight brokerages and shippers as they vet potential transportation solutions. But, does allowing tracking invade your privacy?

How Does Allowing Tracking Impact Your Autonomy?

It’s reasonable to question the impact of allowing other companies to track your location. Tracking you while you’re driving is one thing, but will this information be accessed after you’ve delivered the shipment or while you’re on a break? This is a valid concern. You deserve peace of mind in knowing you won’t be tracked at inappropriate times. That said, having an app installed on your phone is particularly disturbing. 

Luckily, you don’t have to worry about this in most instances. While a broker might set the terms for how frequently your location refreshes, you can enable and disable these devices whenever you want. These systems are also set up so tracking only occurs on each load individually. As such, your GPS information isn’t accessible by parties who aren’t connected to your shipment (a previous customer, for example).

Red Semi Truck Pulling Dry Van Trailer

Avoid Issues by Working With a Quality Freight Brokerage

Technology is at the forefront of nearly every industry. Transportation is no exception. Digital GPS load-tracking software is one of these technologies and has become increasingly common over the past decade. 

As a trucking company, it’s up to you to decide whether you allow another party to track your location while in transit. However, doing so can be to your advantage since you won’t disqualify yourself from hauling freight for businesses that require it. 

Getting set up with tracking is easy too; it can be done in minutes by installing an app on your phone or ELD. 

Jerry Ramirez

Written by Jerry Ramirez

Jerry joined ATS in 2003 and has served in various roles over the years, including time as a customer service manager in ATS’ Vans division. Now as an operations manager with ATS Logistics, Jerry works to develop employees and grow relationships with customers, focusing primarily on the specialized and heavy haul side of the business.