If you’re building a telematics solution for fleet managers, you’re likely facing the difficult decision of choosing which features to include. Equally important is understanding which parameters (PIDs) are available to support the functionality that you are trying to implement. Not all PIDs are consistent across vehicle makes or even models, and in many cases, they are simply not available.
Our team of engineers at VINVOX have put together a list of 5 parameters that we recommend building into your telematics solution for fleet managers:
2. Fuel level
3. Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
4. Seat belt status
5. Battery voltage
These parameters help fleet managers make informed decisions when it comes to staying on top of maintenance needs, trip tracking and routing, and reducing costs. We’ve pointed out some key things to consider with each parameter to help you avoid making costly mistakes when building your telematics solution.
Odometer readings for maintenance and routing
Why track the odometer?
Tracking vehicle mileage is at the core of any fleet management solution. Managers use this data to benchmark critical activities like scheduled maintenance and for measuring fuel efficiency. Having an accurate read on the odometer also supports accurate trip tracking, driver routing and reporting.
What to consider with the odometer
While some applications continue to use GPS to track mileage, using the actual odometer value as displayed on the instrument cluster panel is considered the most accurate solution for telematics applications. Using GPS can create a variance of 1-5% in the accuracy of the reading, which over time can represent a significant discrepancy in the actual mileage.
While odometer values provide greater accuracy, they can be challenging to access, as the location of the parameter can vary between vehicle make, model and year. Obtaining odometer values could require support for both request/response, broadcast communication and other protocols.
If you choose to implement the odometer parameter within your application, be sure to consider how you will access the data across your client’s entire fleet.
Fuel level to track fuel efficiency and route management
Why track fuel levels?
Fleet managers benefit from having an accurate read on fuel levels for routing, maintenance, and administrative needs such as fuel expense tracking.
By combining both fuel and odometer data, managers of commercial fleets can monitor a vehicle’s fuel efficiency, helping them determine their maintenance requirements. Poor driving habits can also be identified with fuel level data by looking at historic idle times and gas and mileage averages.
What to consider with fuel
Fuel percentage is a mandated telematics parameter, but in some cases, manufacturers choose to use alternate parameter locations to store the data, making it challenging to retrieve.
While fuel percentage may be the most commonly used parameter, it is not available in every vehicle. To accommodate for different vehicle make, model and years, we recommend incorporating both fuel percentage and fuel volume parameters into your telematics application.
Having validated fuel parameters for nearly 2,500 unique vehicle make, model and years, we often source our fuel data from multiple locations in the vehicle to ensure we have the highest possible coverage for our clients.
Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) for safety and maintenance
Why track TPMS?
A continuous line of sight into tire pressure keeps vehicles safe and prevents accidents. It also provides cost savings by improving fuel economy and detecting when a vehicle’s tires need maintenance.
What to consider with TPMS
TPMS is a highly complex and challenging parameter to measure. It is not mandated, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Although TPMS is not legally required in Canada, the parameter can still be obtained and validated using the right methodology.
If an accurate, up-to-date read on tire pressure is an important feature for your fleet management telematics solution, consider the following:
In some cases, the vehicle needs to be driven to retrieve a tire pressure value. This will impact the accuracy of the data, as stationary vehicles may only report readings from the last trip or in some cases, no readings at all.
Seat belt status for passenger safety and company liability
Why track seat belt status?
While increasing driver safety is a clear benefit to tracking seat belt status, knowing whether a seat belt was secured during an accident could be a critical piece of evidence when making an insurance claim.
What to consider with seat belt status
Vehicle manufacturers implement seat belt status in the following ways:
1. Broadcast Messaging
The most common way to report seat belt status is broadcast messaging. This is an ideal method, as the status can be read at any time and receives a “yes” or “no” response as to whether the seat belt is secured.
2. Request/Response Messaging
An alternative approach is the request/response method, whereby the status of the seat belt can be requested and returned from the vehicle at any time.
3. Event Trigger
The final approach is the event trigger method, in which the application is listening for the securing or releasing of the seat belt, rather than having the current status always available as in the broadcast and request/response methods. This method requires more powerful hardware but might be the only option to measure the seat belt status in some vehicles.
If a high level of seat belt status coverage is an important feature of your fleet management telematics solution, it should be designed to accommodate all methods.
Battery voltage for maintenance tracking
Why track battery voltage?
Battery voltage data provides useful intelligence for fleet managers to prevent costly delays and possible breakdowns. Having their eye on the status and condition of the vehicles’ batteries helps them stay ahead of maintenance needs and keep operations running smoothly.
What to consider with battery voltage. Some good news!
Unlike many of the other parameters we work with at VINVOX, the battery voltage parameter is readily available for the majority of vehicle make, model and years on the road in North America.
In those rare occasions where it is not stored at its designated address, VINVOX retrieves this information from alternate locations within the vehicle network in order to offer more complete coverage for our clients.
When building your telematics application for fleet managers, keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to ensure reliable and accurate data.
Choosing the right parameters as the foundation of your solution is key, and knowing the subtleties of how each parameter functions can save time and money. If the success of your offering relies on your ability to support a significant cross-section of vehicles, be sure to start the conversation early with your telematics data provider to avoid costly mistakes.
If you’d like to learn more about the nuances of telematics parameters and how we navigate them at VINVOX, get in touch with our Technical Manager, Andy, who can answer your questions.