As a fleet running corporation, you are faced with numerous decisions on a daily basis. Deciding which fleet tracking solution is right for your business is just one of them. This isn’t a small decision as a comprehensive fleet management solution can make the difference between a good business and a surviving one.
Implementing a system that gives you deeper insight and the ability to oversee your entire fleet and loads is vital as it leads to accurate billing and management of pilferage events. Additionally, as you grow, your needs change, your software and hardware should have the ability to scale with your business. Making, finding a vendor who can scale with you and can provide customized solutions imperative for both now and the future.
As shown in the above diagram a telematics system consists of:
- GPS/GNSS satellite system
- Hardware in the vehicle
- Cellular network
- Server-side software
Each of these components must be looked at in its singularity and as a system to give you optimal performance.
Some of the issues which fleet owners often face during the running of the system include;
- GPS signal not available either due to low signal (weather, high rise buildings, basements, metal roofs, canyons) or poor hardware.
- GSM signal not available specially in remote areas, either because of network unavailability or poor hardware.
- GPS data not retrievable after GSM network loss (memory storage issue)
- Device configuration issues leading to poor performance
- SW system not having the right functionality
- SW not scaling with the number of devices or going down regularly
There are many options available on the market. Below are examples of Chinese and European Devices which are prevalent in the market. It is for you as a corporation to decide which device fits your needs based on price and performance metrics.
A simplified block diagram of a GPS hardware is shown below.
Some of the things which affect the performance of a device are:
- The Quality of the GPS module and antenna used
- Similarly, quality of the GSM modem and its antenna
- Power supply ability to withstand noise and be able to reset the system if needed
- Amount of memory used in system to store for events such as when GSM signal is not available or for advanced topics e.g. over the air upgrade of firmware etc.
- 3D Accelerometer to allow for detection of accidents/driving behaviour
- High quality multi-layer (>4 preferably 6) PCB to reduce noise on the board
For mining operations, it is important that the GSM and GPS modules be very good as the chances of data loss in remote areas is very high. It is not advisable to go for systems which have either no GPS modules or low-quality ones.
Apart from above, other parameters which need to be evaluated before deciding on the usage of a particular hardware are:
- Desired number of Inputs and Outputs
- Ability to add additional HW e.g. Fuel Sensors
- ESIM vs. standard SIM
- Current consumption
- Internal Battery Size
- Modem class of GSM modem (class 10/12 is appropriate)
As such one does not have much control on the network from the fleet manager/owner side. The only influence one can have is to have a high-quality GSM modem with quality antennas. One way to increase sensitivity is to have external antennas, however they are open to tampering/mishandling and are hence not recommended.
As we are discussing mining projects a lot of the locations are remote and there is often an issue of network availability. The way around this problem is to have dual profile SIMs. These allows for two network carriers to be accessed thereby increasing chances of connection. One can also look additionally at ESIMs if one wants to avoid tampering of SIMs. However, they add cost to the total system.
Software Server and Application
This section addresses application features, server uptime and scaling, privacy and device FW updating and configuration control. Below shows the current feature set of the SW, additional features can be added as needed.
|Tracking & Monitoring||Track the current position of Vehicles/Asset along with reported data. Tracking and Status Location Vehicle status Vehicle clustering Fleet History Historic trip data Stops Speed Routes In-route alerts Vehicle Data Speed Battery Voltage Driver Operating Status Assign driver to vehicles Monitor assigned and unassigned status|
|Alerts||Alert types Speeding alert Time limit alerts – stop time, dwell time or idle time Crash alert Offline alert Unplugged alert Vehicle battery voltage low alert Geo-fences inside/outside Immobilization alert Secure Park Violation alert Curfew Violation alert Towing alert|
|Driver Behavior Monitoring||Monitor Driver behavior based on parameters measured: Speeding Hard braking Hard turns Hard acceleration|
|Geo-Fencing||Create and monitor radius or polygon geo-fences in which the vehicles are allowed to operate and define areas in which warning are received. Create favorite locations, Monitor when fleet vehicles leave or enter locations|
|Reporting||Reports include: Vehicles Trips reports Vehicle Ranking by distance Vehicle Ranking by Time utilization Vehicle Not Reporting/Offline Driver Trips Report Driver Driving Events Trends|
Server Uptime/Storage and Scaling
It is imperative that any vendor chosen have a track record of having more than 99.975% uptime. The system must be auto scalable for both adding new devices as well as machines for data processing and storage.
Security and Privacy
Any provider chosen must demonstrate that adequate systems are in place for security and privacy of ALL data (mine, movement, owner etc.). Secure connections and multi-layer password protection across the system are a must.
Device FW updating & Parameter Updating
As we desire consistent performance across the vehicles. It is desirable that we have the capability to download new firmware revisions as well as consistent set of configurations across all devices. This needs to be controlled centrally through the software and disabled for any tampering. It is therefore recommended that devices be centrally programmed with standard SIMs as described above and thereafter be sent out to the field.
Application for Tracking for Vehicle Owner
A mobile app and Web login can be provided for the vehicle owner if needed.
As needed, we can offer API for other GPS SW Providers to upload data to our system.