Telematics: Hardware considerations, further comments and notes.
Following on from our previous blog, a number of clients and potential clients asked more questions, here’s a selection and our thoughts on them, not conclusive by any means and in no particular order but meant to start a conversation……
See the previous blog here and then read below.
what can be built into solution to enhance value (of data) to end clients, whilst maximising revenue for you
Ability to know who’s driving either by iButton, RFiD or Driver Facing Camera
Ensure that the driver knows he’s following company guidelines in terms or ID or any sensor triggered event and either notify by LED (single or multicolour), buzzer or both.
Utilise the driver behaviour features of the device by measuring (and reporting) harsh braking, turning or acceleration.
Trigger reports from your application by measuring and reporting g-force events, using the devices on-board accelerometer.
Where are you?
With the recent weather, would it have been useful for your clients to find out where their vehicles (and employees) were and make sure they’re safe?
Route planning and changing routing mid journey
Send changes to route plan direct to an integrated driver PND (Portable Navigation Device) using manufacturer supported interface and your application.
Utilising the i/o and 1-wire features of devices all sorts of sensors can be added and reported e.g. temperature, humidity, vibration, doors opened/closed etc.
SIM usage and cost management
Do you have the right tariff for your needs? Generally, 2G (GPRS) data plus occasional SMS (no voice) and an average of 3-5Mb per month (from what we’re told). What about the future needs or any changes to data reporting rate, adding accessories that might increase the amount of data or need to push to 3G/4G (e.g. camera systems). Does your Network partner all you to upgrade, change or mix and match your tariffs amongst your inventory?
Roaming doesn’t only mean a change of country, what about areas of your local country not supported by your network, can you roam onto these services without incurring penalty?
Depending on the offering to your clients, does it make sense to have a contract that’s out of line? Or do you prefer the flexibility of being able to switch to a better/different deal?
All options have their merit as long as switch between networks is managed and any hardware configuration changes are managed in the same way (e.g. APN changes)
Renewal of contract
As above, if the contract changes during the operational lifetime of the device, do you have the ability to change configurations ‘on the fly’ to remove the need for a costly engineer visit to re-configure?
Change of provider
Assuming the SIM can be reused, not always the case, then an engineer visit may be needed and should be costed into any change consideration.
In situ system changes
Over the period of the contract there may be other changes you may want (or need) to make, how to you accomplish these, with or without an engineer visit?
Changing server/Changing configuration
Changing the endpoint for your data or the configuration within the device can be achieved with relative ease as long at the device supports SMS configuration or some other OTA methodology, this needs to be considered at the design phase.
Adding new features or accessories
Enhancing the configuration on-board either via SMS or OTA (e.g. changes to reporting to better understand driver behaviour) or an engineering visit to add accessories – if the solution is modular and original cable had planned for this then it’s easier, otherwise it’s a complete re-install.
End of contract
So, what happens to the hardware at the end of the contract with the client? We’re aware of some of the units we’ve sold over the years being in place for over 10 years and still working perfectly, albeit without the latest functionality.
Use the existing hardware (now fully paid for) as a bargaining chip to continue the service at a lower cost, effectively just paying for the service and SIM costs.
Remove the hardware for re-use, there’s the expense of removal, refurbishment and re-provisioning to be taken into consideration. However, the client may want the hardware removed so this needs to be considered at the start of the contract.
Use the contract end as a chance to upgrade to the latest technology and features, as with the mobile phone business model use a negotiation tool prior to the current deal ending.
Depending on what was agreed at the start, you could just leave the device in place, clear the configuration or stop it reporting, deactivate the SIM and forget.
The cost of installation always needs to be factored in, as in some cases, this is not an insignificant cost.
Whether by your own installers or using a suitably qualified 3rd party installer, always make sure that you follow both the manufacturers guidelines and the latest industry standard practices (UK CODE OF PRACTICE for the installation of mobile radio and related ancillary equipment in land based vehicles). Remember to protect that valuable asset (the vehicle) and the device you’re installing, ensure fuses are fitted where needed, better to do well once than have the additional costs of a visit to correct.
There are many self-install devices out there, and we’ll be covering this in another blog later in the year, but if the plan is to use these devices, then make sure that the instructions or guides are clear and simple (we’ve heard stories of users trying to plug OBD devices into relay sockets!). If routine charging of the device is required, then ensure that users have a visual reminder to do so.