6 Design Considerations for IoT Enabled Telematics Solutions
The potential for telematics solutions has been growing by leaps and bounds, enabled by the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) and other connected technologies. This is especially so in the area of fleet management, asset tracking, as well as vehicle insurance. With the aid of telematics, businesses have enjoyed significant gains in terms of efficiency, cost reduction, and timely decision making.
This is evidenced by the following applications:
- Managing assets in sparsely populated areas like rainforests, mines, and deserts
- Real-time fleet tracking to optimise distribution schedules
- Monitoring employee health and safety
- Cold-chain monitoring for temperature-sensitive goods
- Smart City analytics
Although IoT enabled telematics solutions are proven to be highly effective across a wide range of industries, in the same breath, faulty devices will compromise business operations and security. As such, there are a number of design considerations to keep in mind when developing and deploying an IoT enabled telematics solution.
Six Design Considerations
To truly optimise IoT enabled telematics solutions, businesses must consider six critical factors when designing their devices and solutions. When these considerations are put into perspective, business operations will enjoy prolonged efficiency and be assured of a higher level of customer satisfaction.
1. Business Needs
The first step is to establish the objectives and goals for introducing telematics solutions to business operations. If telematics is used for tracking and monitoring a vehicle's real-time location to calibrate safer and more efficient routes for drivers, the solution's design must incorporate GPS systems, onboard vehicle diagnostics, wireless telematics devices, and black box technologies to achieve business needs.
In terms of agricultural applications, apart from vehicle tracking, telematics can be used in precision farming solutions for "smart" seeding and fertilising, all these are derived from the soil's characteristics via the use of sensors. Essentially, the telematics solution must be tailored to include IoT sensors that can automatically collect different environmental and equipment metrics to help automate farming processes. Farmers are also empowered to make informed decisions when it comes to resource management and crop yield maintenance.
2. Technology Selection
There are a variety of telematics technologies to support different applications and industries. With the 5G network playing a key role in enabling IoT connections, businesses can expect an even wider range of high-performance telematics solutions in the near future. When implementing IoT enabled telematics, businesses must consider factors such as the eventual phasing out of the 3G network, the ability to support a high volume of data points and extended range, the technology's scalability, as well as what migration plans need to be in place for existing customers.
Companies intending to work with either video or non-video telematics should also evaluate their needs and the associated costs when deciding on which technology to choose. The following is a quick summary of the three types of connectivity:
||Smart agriculture, smart metering, asset tracking, environment monitoring
||Digital signage, vehicle telematics, connected healthcare, point-of-sale terminals
||Video surveillance, predictive analytics, driver behaviour analysis, IoT gateways
||375 kbps/375 kbps
||10 Mbps/5 Mbps
||150 Mbps/50 Mbps
||Lower data range but further signal rate. It also consumes less power and enables devices to operate for prolonged periods.
||Higher data throughput to support most telematics and IoT applications. Offers better global coverage while supporting low latency.
||Suitable for video telematics and smartphone applications due to its high uplink and download speed.
||Higher cost compared to Cat M1 and Cat 1
3. Cost of Implementing IoT Telematics Solutions
The cost of the telematics solution increases in tandem with the sophistication of the applications and features. For instance, non-video telematics solutions may be less costly than video telematics because the latter requires Cat 4 connectivity and more advanced IoT devices to enable fast uplink and low latency transmission of video data. The following costs must be factored in when designing IoT enabled telematics solutions:
- The fleet or project size
- The IoT telematics devices required
- The installation of devices and software
- The features of the telematics solution
- The monthly subscription for collecting and transmitting data
However, companies should not merely look at the upfront investment required to acquire hardware and software. Weighing the cost against the savings and increased productivity that can be expected with the implementation of a telematics solution will provide a better picture of the organisation's performance over time.
Deployment Area and Size
Another important factor to consider is the geographical coverage that the telematics solution is deployed for. Be clear about the areas that need to be covered, and if additional telematics units are required for deployment to increase the coverage (locally, regionally, or globally). When solutions are scaled according to geographical coverage, companies can optimise their resources to ensure a healthier bottom line.
For example, if an organisation is only deploying the solution within a small coverage area, they may opt for less expensive IoT enabled telematics solutions such as GPS and telemetry devices. On the other hand, if they intend to deploy their solution on a global scale, more powerful and advanced technologies such as 4G/LTE or 5G capable modems would be required.
5. IoT Connectivity
The performance of telematics solutions is deeply rooted in the capabilities of the IoT devices and the cellular data network. Because these devices are the key components that communicate with gateways, applications, servers, routers, and other IoTs, they must be designed to handle the immense amount of data and transmit data in an efficient and secure manner. A reliable data network that matches the deployment area will also ensure the IoT enabled telematics solutions can perform the functions they were designed for.
Depending on the deployment area and the applications required, companies must evaluate the IoT devices and data network in terms of:
- Coverage – Can the IoT devices and network transmit signal and data within the deployment area? Poor coverage can prevent the application from working efficiently.
- Bandwidth – What is the network's maximum capacity for transmitting data and can it handle the volume of data needed for the application? If the bandwidth is limited, it will slow down the overall connectivity.
- Power consumption – Can the network and IoT devices stay functional without consuming too much power? Can power-saving features be implemented to extend the battery life of IoT devices?
6. Bandwidth and Throughput for Security
For companies that regard video telematics as an important feature, the bandwidth of the network in use will matter. A video telematics solution usually deploys multiple cameras that upload and transmit a large amount of video data to the cloud when the telematics application is in use. This requires high-bandwidth connectivity, especially for the uplink. If the IoT telematics solution is coupled with too little bandwidth or the bandwidth is shared by too many users, the connectivity will be affected and will slow down, this will potentially cripple the telematics applications.
Develop IoT Enabled Telematics Solutions With PCI
Whether you are designing IoT enabled telematics solutions from scratch or re-evaluating your telematics strategies to keep your technological deployment abreast with the market, working with an experienced partner like PCI can help you fast-track your goals with ease. With vast knowledge in developing telematics solutions, our collaborative design team can turn your ideas into turn-key solutions that are customised to your needs. Do not hesitate to contact us today for a discussion. Our dedicated customer service team will provide a comprehensive proposal and road map for your business needs.
IoT has enabled the growth of telematics solutions in various industries, including fleet management, asset tracking, and vehicle insurance. These solutions can provide significant benefits to businesses in terms of efficiency, cost reduction, and timely decision making. However, it is important for businesses to carefully consider six design considerations when developing and deploying IoT enabled telematics solutions to ensure their success. For companies that are designing IoT enabled telematics solutions from scratch or re-evaluating telematics strategies to be in tune with market trends, there is no need to embark on such a project alone. Partnering up with PCI, an electronics manufacturing service provider with extensive experience in telematics, will ensure the fastest and smoothest deployment.