July 16, 2018
All the common features, with an uncommonly easy-to-use interface.
Samsara provides wireless software solutions to vehicle operations. Their FMS offers a variety of features, all of which are collected into a main dashboard which fleet managers can use to view data on all of their vehicles.
Serves any size fleet: Samsara’s FMS covers small, medium, and large
Prices are comparable to the average FMS vendor
Service coverage is international, but does not include parts management or tire management options
Samsara’s customers are broad, covering commercial motor vehicles and including school buses, construction, passenger transit, food and beverage, state and local government, trailers, and refrigerated units.
Once logged in to Samara’s Fleet Management System, managers can see the centralized map of their vehicles and where each one is, in real time. A “helicopter view” even allows managers to see each individual vehicle travel down a Google Maps-style photoreal map of the landscape.
To the left-hand side is a list of vehicle diagnostics: Engine speed, fuel rate, even ambient air temperature. Samsara’s compact, easy-to-navigate dashboard is one of its strengths. Clicking on each statistic pulls up a chart showing the highs and lows of that stat across the previous 24 hours.
Drivers, meanwhile, will receive their own mobile app in the form of the Samsara Driver App, which displays relevant data and allows drivers to manage their hours of service through their tablet or phone.
Samsara GPS Fleet Tracking: Core Features
Driver Safety: Harsh events, from driver braking to rapid acceleration to excessive speed, are automatically tracked by the Samsara FMS, and can be easily pulled up for each vehicle by the fleet manager. This feature allows managers to identify and address recurring issues, leading to greater safety.
Fuel Tracking: Data provided by a Samsara FMS helped one company, Sam’s Well Drilling, realize that running its rigs 100 RPMs slower would save it $480k per year in fuel expenses.
Routing & Dispatch: Samsara lets fleet managers communicate with their vehicles in real time, through a messaging app. They can confirm they’ve reached a destination and dispatch them on the next task, reroute vehicles or guide lost drivers step-by-step over the phone. Managers can then compile the data into reports that cover each vehicle’s total stops, missed stops, and early/late stops, giving each vehicle an at-a-glance performance score.
A route analytics section on the fleet manager dashboard will also display the contrast between the route managers planned for, and the route that drivers ended up taking in reality. Managers can use the information to adjust future routes to account for the times and routes that their drivers need. Samsara’s online FAQ page can further help fleet managers understand how to optimize routes through their FMS dashboard.
Time on site: This feature presents fleet managers with a heat map of the areas at which drivers spend the most time overall. Managers can easily tell which locations their business serves most often, and how much time drivers take to arrive at their destinations as well as how long they spend at each one.
Mobile options: The Samsara FMS dashboard is designed for desktop use but all dashboard features can be accessed on mobile devices. The mobile interface does have a more limited functionality however.
ELD Compliance: The Samsara Driver App allows drivers to view the regulation-compliant data of their hours of service that has been recorded by devices with access to their vehicle engines. The drivers won’t need any special hardware to view the reports, just an Android or iOS tablet or phone.
2018 is the first full year that U.S. commercial motor vehicles are required to use an electronic logging device to track
their hours of service.
Since drivers will have Samsara’s automatically compiled report in front of them, they’ll be able to avoid the recent ELD regulatory fines when pulled over for a roadside inspection.
Hardware: Samara’s fleet management system includes plug-and-play hardware devices that must be installed in each vehicle by operators, though the process is a simple one. These devices come with a one-year warranty.
Bonus feature: Dash cam
In addition to the FMS, Samsara offers CM22, a high-definition dash cam that’s dual-facing, covering both the driver (with an infrared LED to counter poor lighting) and the road, automatically uploading needed footage to the cloud.
It also offers CM12, a similar high-def dash cam that is front-facing: It only covers the road, not the driver. At any given time, the CM12 retains the past 24 hours of footage, allowing fleet managers to comb through for any footage they need to keep. The CM22 holds 48 hours of footage.
Samsara High Value Asset Tracking
Samsara’s asset tracking solutions go beyond the fleet to help managers keep tabs on all their high-value equipment. From the dashboard, managers can search their assets by name, by location or by type of asset in order to ensure everything is where it should be. By tracking all assets in real-time, operations can be both more secure and more streamlined, improving efficiency and revenue.
Alerts can be set to warn managers if an asset should enter an unauthorized, geofenced location, deterring theft. Similarly, alerts can be set for any powered assets, letting managers know when they’re turned on, and how long they run.
Other Samsara Products
Samsara’s raft of vehicle hardware and software includes plenty of other services that are integral to specific businesses.
- Truckers with refrigerated units to worry about can look into reefer monitoring systems, which include Samsara temperature sensors in the cargo area.
- Those with trailers can make use of Samsara’s trailer tracking software.
- School bus drivers are covered under Samsara’s K-12 solutions.
- Government, transit and construction vehicles all have their own solutions as well
In other words, Samsara has something for everyone.
Set Up and Customer Support
Samsara offers a free trial: They’ll mail their hardware units for free, allowing fleet managers to install the devices and try out the software for a set period of time. Set up is simple, since the basic FMS devices can plug into each vehicle’s dash.
Customer support for Samsara’s clients comes in a variety of forms: Support staff are available through a phone call or through email 24 hours a day during weekdays, and from 8am until 5pm Saturday and Sunday. Clients with specific concerns may submit a support ticket through the website. For less pressing issues, an FAQ and additional online materials can walk managers through various solutions.
While discussing the set-up, be sure to confirm that all the features you’ll need are compatible with your vehicles’ makes and models — some features might work while others won’t, and you want to discover any incompatibility before the contracts are inked, not after.
Support & Training
Samsara Plans and Pricing
You’ll pay “per-device, per-year” — in other words, multiply the vehicles in your fleet by the number of years during which you’ll need an FMS in order to ballpark how much you’ll pay. The contracts are available in 1, 3, 5, and 7-year terms, with discounts available for those who sign up for longer stints with the service.
All Samsara hardware will stop working if its license expires, so the license is effectively a subscription to the hardware as well as the software and firmware that keep the system running.
Expect the cost for a Samsara FMS to fall into the mid-range typical for a fleet management system. As with any FMS, the most accurate way to get a price for your specific fleet is to get a customized quote, and the fastest way to get one is through our comparison form.
Samsara’s FMS is Tech.Co approved: It covers the most popular and necessary FMS features — routing and dispatch, fuel tracking, ELD compliance, and driver safety, among others. More importantly, it packages these features in a simple, easy-to-understand dashboard that fleet managers can use without a steep learning curve.
Granted, Samsara doesn’t cover every possible feature: Its tire and parts management options are a notable exception. However, for any fleet manager in need of a reliable and understandable FMS, Samsara is one of the best.
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