Telematics: Hardwired Devices Options and Considerations
From a basic 3 wire tracker to a centralised communications hub for your telematics solution, the features and options in telematics boxes are vast and there are some things that you need to think about before you make your selection.
Function vs cost is often a discussion we have with clients, where they want to optimise their solution to a budget, and that’s fine if you know exactly what you want to achieve, your clients know what they’re getting and have a known understanding of what may need to change over the contract period.
BUT ahead of making that decision you need to think about the possibility of future upgrade or adding features that allow for additional revenue, without the need to do a costly reinstall and the management of your installed inventory of devices.
In terms of basic boxes there are plenty out there but not all devices are created equal, so you need to pick wisely, or have a partner like Simple Solutions who can give you best guidance.
Firstly, you need to decide what features your market or clients must have, or would like, do you have the budget to include these and maybe creep into that wish list of features that allow you to add value later?
Things to consider with cost effective trackers:
- Fixed cable or connectorised – fixed for more security, in terms of difficulty of removal or connectorised to allow for replacement or removal for reuse.
- Accelerometer – to support driver behaviour or unusual movement
- i/o – relay control, switch or other triggers
- back-up battery – last gasp to tell you when power has been removed
As you move up the chain and look to make the telematics box work harder for its living then the feature set increases, with more on-board features and allowing it to interface to more varied peripherals:
- Serial ports – adding 3rd party peripherals
- 1-wire – for temperature, driver ID etc.
- More i/o – additional trigger points, relays, switches etc.
- More processing power – to ensure that the device can handle all the features needed
- Specialist interfaces – CAN, FMS, Garmin etc.
- Additional communications paths (other than Cellular & GPS) – Bluetooth, BLE, WiFi, RF, Satellite etc.
- Dual power – Host and battery powered
Having made all these choices you need to ensure that you have some of the fundamentals in place to best support your solution, these too need careful consideration:
- Application – can your application support, display and report all of the data produced by these additional features?
- Servers – do your servers have the bandwidth to cope with the possible additional payloads?
- SIM – is your data tariff optimised to allow for the additional data and possible peaks in usage or location?
- Installer – does the installer fully understand the solution, know how it fits together and how to test when installed?
- Cables and accessories needed for the install – don’t leave the choices to the installer, make sure you have a known good selection and a systematic install.
As with any solution, we would always recommend complete testing and evaluation before putting your offering into a customers vehicle, better to iron out the ‘wrinkles’ ahead of clients finding them for you!
Finally, we need to consider device management, once these devices are out in use then we need to be able to ‘touch’ them for
- Firmware updates
- Configuration changes
- Server address changes
- APN changes
Having the ability to do these things over the air allows for bug fixes and updates without interruption to your business and could save many headaches in the future.
Having the right device, with the right features and support processes can be the difference between a long term successful solution and one subject to periodic interruption and/or potential failure.
Why take the risk? Consider your solution carefully, understand your customer or markets needs, your own capabilities and those of your chosen partners, then build a system on known good and well tested elements.
Some of our previous blogs might provide some additional information and help:
- Accessory Selection: https://www.simplesolutions-uk.com/news/telematics-accessory-selection
- Identification: https://www.simplesolutions-uk.com/news/telematics-identification
- Technical Support: https://www.simplesolutions-uk.com/news/support-part-solution