How to track vehicles using barcodes

Wesley Archer on December 04, 2020

Whether your vehicles are for hire, part of a company pool or displayed on the forecourt for sale, we'll help you keep on top of where they are, what condition they are in and details of their service history.

Using nothing more than the camera on your smartphone and our free Orca Scan mobile app, it is easy to capture and record details of your vehicles in real-time. Orca Scan can even use the unique Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to pre-populate data, such as make, model, year of manufacture, colour and more, in order to save you time. You can then push or pull data into your favourite spreadsheet package, such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, to reduce human error and data entry.

Orca Scan helps reduce the error-prone process of manual data entry into spreadsheets, removes the need for expensive barcode scanners, and allows you to track your vehicles across multiple locations with ease.

What is vehicle tracking?

Vehicle tracking is the recording of location history of a vehicle as it is moved, typically from storage compound to customer and vice versa. Tracking vehicle locations is commonly done within the vehicle hire or rental industry, whether it is a car, van, bike, electric scooter, mini-bus, coach or HGV, and is usually done as part of a inspection to assess the condition the vehicle is in before and after it has been rented.


An effective vehicle tracking process allows businesses to know exactly where their vehicles are at any time, including the condition, to maximise the amount of stock available to hire and therefore maximise their profits.

Why is vehicle tracking important?

Knowing where your fleet of vehicles is at any one time is crucial, as it means:

  • Your teams know which vehicles are available to hire at their depot
  • Historical location data shows you where vehicles have been, and in what condition
  • Management can carry out audit trails and identify training needs where issues arise frequently

How do you track vehicles using smartphones?

Tracking vehicles using a smartphone is very effective with Orca Scan. Using our free mobile app, which works on iOS and Android (requires iOS 10 or Android v4.44 (KitKat) and above), your teams can use their own devices to:

  • Scan Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) barcodes and pull more than 20 unique values including make, model, colour and year of production automatically
  • Quickly add additional details, such as registration, mileage and condition
  • Capture GPS location automatically on scan to view on a map

You can also use Orca Scan to scan barcodes into Excel or Google Sheets in seconds. Scanned barcodes and associated data entered via the Orca Scan mobile app will then be automatically pushed into your Excel or Google Sheet.

With Orca Asset Maps you can quickly see where each vehicle has been on a map, as well as see at a glance what has changed throughout the vehicle's journey. This allows you to carry out effective audit trails on all your vehicle stock without trawling through endless spreadsheets.

How do you track vehicles in multiple locations?

Orca Scan can capture and record the GPS location every time an item is scanned, allowing you to view the locations on a map in real-time. This is done using the scanning device's integrated GPS chip and does not require any additional user involvement, other than to scan the item initially.

If the location of the vehicle changes between scans, the location history will be visible on a map and viewing this will also show you what else has changed, and by whom. This allows you to quickly see where a vehicle has been, and what has changed throughout its journey and makes carrying out audit trails a quick and painless process. You can also combine data from multiple locations using Views or integrate with other systems using simple HTTP requests too.

Problems with existing vehicle tracking solutions

Whilst there may be other vehicle tracking solutions available, the most common issues include:

  • Cost to purchase is typically in the thousands
  • Implementation often requires dedicated on-site engineers or dedicated IT teams
  • Manual data entry into Excel or Google Sheets increases human error
  • Integration with third-party tools is not possible or expensive
  • Audit trails are long-winded and complicated

Ready to start tracking?