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What to consider before installing telematics systems into your fleet

Before choosing a telematics provider, it is crucial to understand which technology is most appropriate for your fleet, and what to consider other than price. Some fleets may already have basic telematics systems installed that do not collect vehicle information.

There are two main types of hardware options to consider when looking to collect insightful data from a fleet’s computer systems: on-board diagnostic devices (OBD) and devices that directly access the Controller Area Network (CAN).

OBD telematics devices plug into a vehicles diagnostic port, which is usually located underneath the steering column, as a source of both power and vehicle data.

CAN telematics devices capture data from a vehicle’s Electronic Control Units, which communicate with each other on the Controller Area Network. This data typically includes information from the engine control unit, braking sensors and fuel injector.

OBD devices are often cheaper and slightly easier to install than CAN telematics. OBDs can also be transferred from one vehicle to another in some cases.

While CAN telematics are the more expensive, they do offer greater security benefits compared to OBDs.

OBD ports were designed to service cars and to monitor vehicle emissions – and not intended for telematics devices. Hackers have demonstrated that using OBD port for telematics creates a securtiy risk, and car makers have publicly stated they may restrict OBD usage in the future.

CAN systems deliver high-fidelity telematics data and achieve higher return on investment for companies looking to optimise fleet operations and enhance driver safety. Make sure your provider uses contactless installations and uses and wide range of makes and models.

Fleet operators are also urged to obey the following steps:

Make a list of priorities

Make a list of what you want to achieve with your telematics system and what services you want from your provider, such as an online customer service portal.

Check vehicle compatibility

Check vehicle compatibility at an early stage. Promises of efficiency savings and operational improvements count for nothing if your fleet can’t be connected properly. This applies to both device hardware and platform software.

Arrange a product demonstration

Arrange a product demonstration with potential providers to see how it works in practice.

Evaluate the provider’s claims

Customer reviews about their service and products are typically a good source of truth, as is their industry reputation. You could also explore their website and social media to understand how they engage with potential customers.

Review installation and after care

Ask for a detailed deployment plan that works to your timeline. Then, once your solution is up and running, find out what kind of customer care you’ll receive.

Finalise contract terms

The typical length of a telematics contract is three or more years. While you finalise contract terms, get a clear understanding of their business road map: future-thinking companies are better placed to innovate and provide more value for you in the future.