power take-off
Justin blog author

Author: Justin Schmid

Content Marketing Specialist

GPS Insight Forward IconPower Take-off Overview

PTO uses a vehicle’s transmission to power accessories such as a digger derrick or boom. Without a fleet management solution, though, it’s difficult to tell whether a vehicle is using its engine to perform tasks or simply idling.

Here are some important points about PTO.

  • Power Take-Off + Fleet Management Solutions = Winning – Idling is the second-most-used alert among fleet management solution users. That’s because it’s a frequent target for fleet managers addressing efficiency. Some fleet solutions can tell when the PTO is engaged versus when the vehicle is simply idling.
  • How PTO Works – PTOs take the rotary power of the truck’s engine and turn it into hydraulic power. There are a wide variety of configurations for different vehicles.
  • Monitoring PTO to Provide Proof of Service – By monitoring PTO with a fleet management solution, you can quickly find insights to indicate whether workers performed scheduled tasks. For example, you could pinpoint when and where your vehicle used PTO to dump a load of rock.

A Quick Intro to Power Take-Off and Fleet Management .

Quick – what does PTO stand for?

If you’re like most people, you answered Paid Time Off. But fleet people who deal with vehicles, mobile assets, and drivers every day, know it stands for Power Take-Off, as well.

Both answers are right, of course. But this blog post is all about power take-off (we’ll leave blogging about the other PTO for the human resources pros).

First, what is PTO, exactly?

It allows you to use all or a portion of the truck’s engine power to perform various tasks, usually through a switch. At the most basic level, PTOs make additional power for vehicle accessories.

Combining this capability with a fleet management system provides you with insights that let you use your vehicles more efficiently. That’s a huge bonus for government and commercial fleets that are cutting costs and also reducing their carbon footprint.

This post will break down helpful information about PTO.


How PTOs: A Quick Overview 

While many businesses rely on vehicles that wouldn’t look out of place in your own garage, some commercial trucks are an entirely different beast. They’re bigger and more powerful, with far more torque than a lighter-duty vehicle. 

All that power makes it possible to funnel some power away from the engine. There are many configurations for PTO units. Some will only engage the PTO when the vehicle is stopped.

That’s just scratching the surface of the many PTO options available to fit every fleet’s needs.  

In essence, PTOs take the rotary power of the truck’s engine and turn it into hydraulic power that can raise the bed of a dump truck, lift a bucket to repair a power line, or turn the barrel of a cement truck, just to name a few applications. 

Work vehicles are available with PTOs from the factory. In many cases, though, PTOs are added as an aftermarket accessory.  

power take-off

Power Take-Off + Fleet Management Solutions = Winning 

Earlier in the post, we mentioned efficiency. Fleet managers who are trying to make their vehicles more efficient often target idling. And for good reason. 

Any idling vehicle wears faster, burns fuel, and spews pollution – all while not getting any work done. Fleet management solutions are an important tool in combating idling. 

Still, not all kinds of idling are equal.  

GPS Insight clients rely on an Idle Time Summary Report that knows the differenceIt identifies idling done while the vehicle is parked and separately while parked with PTO engaged. If engaged, thus working idle, the value is removed from the overall idle time to give you vehicles True Idle Time/Wasted Fuel.       

For example, GPS Insight clients often configure their solution to trigger idle alerts. They can exclude Working Idle Time to receive true notification of wasteful idle.  

Fleet managers can notice trends in True Idle Time and encourage better habits from employees. The results can add up to significant savings: West Coast Sand & Gravel, a construction material hauler, used this report to reduce fuel use by 5,205 gallons, or $18,000, in one quarter just targeting idle time.  

On the other hand, the report can also tell you when the PTOs for your vehicles are engaged and getting the job done. That can prove that time spent idling was time well spent. 

Monitoring PTO to Provide Proof of Service 

Government and commercial fleet employees both know that it can be hard to discover the truth behind a constituent or customer complaint.  

By monitoring power take-off with a fleet management solution, you can quickly find insights to indicate whether workers performed scheduled tasks.  

For example, a utility company could verify that line workers were servicing power lines by seeing whether they activated the vehicle’s boom. With the right equipment, it’s also possible to see how long the boom was up and when it was lowered, and compare that information to the expected time to complete the job.  

Summarizing PTOs 

Power take-off is a great way to accomplish more with your vehicle, and PTO monitoring can make your fleet vehicles more efficient and even provide a measure of accountability.  


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