Guardians of Your Goods: Exploring The Science Behind How GPS E-Locks Work

Feature image showing GPS E-Lock and blog title

Prevention is better than cure — a statement that echoes across the logistics sector but realised by only a minority of fleet managers. This is why we want fleet managers to learn how GPS E-Lock works. The Global Cargo Theft Trends 2023 shows that items like food and beverage, electronics, automotive, and crucial metals are subject to increased cargo thefts.

The incidents, citing a lack of proper cargo locking mechanisms and solutions, are estimated to be over multiples of crore INR. This is why we suggest fleet managers implement GPS E-Locks across their fleet to monitor highly valuable cargo or high-value mobile assets throughout its movement.

In this post, we will discuss how GPS E-Lock works, the key components involved, and why you should invest in digital lock solutions. Let’s jump right into the content, shall we?

What are GPS E-Locks?

GPS E-Locks, as the name suggests, are essentially intelligent electronic container locks that come with an electronic lock/unlock function, remote GPS tracker, and fleet management function. The GPS E-Lock solution offers live GPS tracking, door lock/unlock status monitoring, remote unlocking, trip creation, IP67 waterproof casing, a large battery, and easy installation. These can be attached to any fleet vehicle cargo lock for an efficient fleet asset management.

Major components of GPS E-Locks working

GPS E-Lock works effectively with the help of several key components. Let’s discuss the components critical to how GPS E-Lock works in detail —

GPS module

The Global Positioning System module in the E-Locks provides fleet managers with information related to the fleet vehicle’s location, speed, and route.

GSM module

The Global System for Mobile Communication or GSM module is responsible for helping the E-Lock and GPS modules send/receive data to/from the server and further connect with the fleet manager’s web application.

E-Lock string and motor

The lock rope or E-Lock string is essentially a strong string made of metallic wires, enclosed in a non-conductive material. The in-built motor grabs onto the string (lock mode) and releases the string when instructed (unlock).

Indicative LEDs

The indicative LEDs on the GPS E-Lock case generally show if the GPS, GSM, LVS (Low Voltage Status), and CHG (charging status) modules are working properly.

Charging ports

The GPS E-Lock modules come with a dedicated charging port and fleet managers can charge them using USB-C.

Battery

The in-built battery capacity of electronic GPS locks varies from one model to another. Generally, it ranges from 10000 mAh to 15000 mAh.

How do GPS E-Locks work?

Now that you know the key components of GPS E-Locks, here are the steps essential for the effective functioning of GPS E-Locks —

Step 1: Charge GPS E-Lock battery

The first step is to ensure adequate charging levels in the GPS E-Locks. It is important to note that while some locks come with 15000 mAh batteries the others come with a capacity of 10000 mAh. Moreover, fleet managers will be able to set the trips only if the GPS E-Locks contain an adequate charge, for example, short and long trips cannot be set if the battery levels are below 30 and 60 percent respectively. The best part of GPS E-Locks is that majority of the models are compatible with USB-C charging cables and power adapters.

Step 2: GPS E-Lock authorisation

Once the GPS E-Locks are adequately charged, fleet managers can configure the lock/unlock authorisations and permissions. In this, the fleet manager will have to configure the RFID and keypad credentials (if available) and passwords and provide the passkeys to the authorised personnel. This step is critical to effective cargo container monitoring as you want an authorised person to access the locks when the container reaches its destination. Although the passwords set are changed automatically after a fixed period of time, they can also be changed manually using the GPS E-Lock software.

Step 3: Install GPS E-Lock on vehicle (vehicle-lock mapping)

After properly configuring the GPS E-locks, it is time to install the locks on loaded fleet vehicles. The GPS locks are installed at the back of the loaded fleet vehicle, generally where the container door is locked. After installing the lock, the fleet manager will conduct vehicle-lock mapping, i.e. documenting which GPS E-Lock unit is installed on which loaded fleet vehicle. This way, you can track the GPS data (real-time location, speed, driving behaviour, and more) of the correct fleet vehicle.

Step 4: Create trips and geofences with waypoints

Now, you have successfully installed the GPS E-Lock on the fleet vehicle. The next step in the process is creating trips, waypoints, and geofences. This is a crucial step as it allows fleet managers to ensure authorised personnel access the locks at the correct geo-location. You can create fixed and dynamic trips with up to 20 waypoints excluding source and destination using the GPS E-Lock software solution. Moreover, the geofences can be circular or polygonal in shape, allowing fleet managers to be precise with the geofence area.

Step 5: GPS tracks vehicle movement

The Global Positioning System or GPS module of the GPS E-Lock helps accrue information like real-time fleet vehicle position, speed, fleet driver behaviour, vehicle tracking history, vehicle idling, trip history, and more. The module even provides information related to geofences, as it alerts the fleet managers once the vehicle enters the designated geofence or reaches the correct geo-location. The GPS module of GPS E-Locks can provide location information with an accuracy of 3.5 to 7.8 metres.

Complete workflow of how GPS E-Locks work

Step 6: E-Lock waits for the server command

The E-Lock module of the device connects to the server through the GSM module in order to send/receive data. It will keep looking for commands from the server while guarding the door. Fleet managers can tweak the frequency at which the E-Lock searches for or sends data. This feature is highly useful when optimising battery usage.

Step 7: Information interchange (Major GPS E-Lock function)

This is a critical part of the GPS E-Lock functioning as it helps the GPS module, GSM module, E-Lock module, and server to connect and exchange data. It is important to ensure a strong connection between these modules so that fleet managers can have the right information displayed on the MIS dashboard. Not only that, but a reliable connection will also mean that fleet managers will have reliable reports and insights. The data and commands sent and received are parsed and stored in the database to be retrieved when required.

Step 8: Web application helps control E-Lock

If all the GPS E-Lock modules function to perfection, the fleet managers will have the right updates and alerts displayed on the web application. The web application stays connected to the GPS E-Lock via the internet and uses the channel to monitor and control the lock. The web application also connects to the server to store and retrieve the data and commands. It will provide fleet managers with alerts related to battery consumption and tampering

Step 9: GPS E-Lock unlocking at destination

Ideally, once the loaded fleet vehicle reaches the designated geofence, fleet managers will be able to use the web application to send unlock commands. GPS E-Lock unlocking is also possible for authorised personnel through RFID tags and through a passcode if the device features a keypad. Fleet managers can even push unlock commands via Bluetooth and SMS. However, these mediums or unlocking methods are useful in emergency situations only, for instance, when the geofence has no internet or network connectivity.

Step 10: Generate reports and insights

The last step in the process is data analysis, which is an essential part of the GPS E-Lock solution. The MIS dashboard will showcase information related to the trip, especially attributes like route deviation, overspeeding, lock tampering, sudden acceleration, harsh braking, and more.

Final thoughts on how GPS E-Lock works

Fleet managers willing to safeguard their precious cargo need to be cautious of the locking solution they implement. After all, for logistics companies, successful cargo protection is directly proportional to their market reputation. This is one reason why we suggest fleet managers consider introducing GPS E-Locks throughout the fleet. The GPS E-Lock is a highly technologically and advanced cargo monitoring and protection solution that makes supply chain and logistics management effortlessly efficient. Now that you know how GPS E-Lock works, it’s the right time to connect with our fleet management expert and understand how the solution can benefit your specific use case. Stay tuned for more informative posts in the future.

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