In this age of technological advancement, cloud-based solutions and telematics benefit from a perfectly symbiotic relationship. Telematics systems have evolved to incorporate empowering cloud functionalities that lead towards more sophisticated and cost-effective connectivity capabilities. With the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), it is imperative for businesses to ensure effectiveness and competence across all operational areas, otherwise they are at risk of falling behind. In an effort to provide some context, according to Market Research Hub, the total value of the global IoT fleet management market will reach an estimated US$15,870.0 million by 2025.
Due to this, some of the old devices in legacy telematics systems might not work as intended anymore. One example are the antennas that are imperative for the transmission of data in an information-first world. The design of antennas is critical for optimal system performance and should always be taken into consideration to ensure efficiencies across the system.
How Technology Created a Multimodal World
In order to utilise new infrastructure in the way it was envisioned, stable connectivity is of paramount importance. Systems operate in different environments, locations, and conditions, as a result it is not sufficient to rely exclusively on one specific mode of connection. To ensure stability, omnipresence and flexibility in a multimodal world, a variety of different wireless protocols should be made available.
For instance, in a supply chain management system that uses telematics, the RF availability in different environments is a critical factor to consider. This information paves the way for RF usage optimization to save on fees. As an example, low-bandwidth RF usage is preferable when there is a need to transfer a small data pack instead of its high-bandwidth counterparts.
To further illustrate this point, when there are options to use either a low-range, low-bandwidth, or a high-range, high-bandwidth combination, businesses can identify which of these connectivity options best suit their operations.
Telematics and The Supply Chain Revolution
As Industry 4.0 automates processes and streamlines procedures to increase productivity, performance, safety, and dependability across the supply chain, so do vehicle telematics to the delivery aspect of the chain. By combining all the elements of Cloud-based infrastructure, from GPS satellites to 5G cell towers to facility Local Area Networks; with intelligent software and modernized management processes, telematics empowers enterprises by giving them access to previously unimaginable possibilities.
Cloud-based telematics is the best way to optimize the business' workflow process. On top of being cost-effective, integrating telematics to an existing fleet management solution would enable the business to do the following: exchange forwarding date with the drivers, manage their pallets, monitor load-securing tools and processes, provide a navigation function with truck restrictions, read driving and resting times, provide an interface with an integrated navigation function so all drivers can get their jobs via wireless services, monitor vehicle diagnostics and performance aspects, document towing and towed vehicles with barcode and/or RFID scanning, map traffic reliably, create paperless documentation of delivery, and get real-time updates of status conditions of transport units.
Another advantage of this Cloud-based and IoT-enabled system is the significant reduction of costs in configuration and implementation. With the help of cutting-edge Cloud functionality, costs of self-hosted servers and configuration of all terminal devices are eliminated.
Wired Functionality: Prerequisites for A Wireless World
In a predefined system of interconnected devices, the entire infrastructure is only as good as the least-performing device. From a high-level point of view, the wireless capabilities of the system would appear most vital. However, many tend to overlook the significant role of the wired devices in the overall performance of the system.
In telematics, this applies to the antennas used in its RF infrastructure. The right choice of antennas and proper configuration is one of the main drivers in the successful implementation of the entirety of the system.
Antenna Design Considerations for Telematics
Antenna design considerations in a telematics network may be simple or complex, depending on the needs of the business. In some companies, higher-cost solutions are preferred over lower-cost alternatives due to their unmatched scalability and cost-effectiveness in the long run. Meanwhile, smaller companies which do not require a sophisticated network may opt for the lower-cost options available in the market.
If the business operates in different parts of the world, a multimodal setup may be the best choice. For instance, in satellite navigation, different options can be utilized. These include but are not limited to the following: GPS, GLONASS, US satellite navigation, Russia satellite navigation, China's BeiDou System (BDS), European Union's Galileo, Japan’s localized Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS), as well as the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS).
Another factor that needs to be considered in assessing antenna options is the capability to perform emergency radio services, such as eCall. Aside from the safety it brings to the fleet operator, it is also a legal requirement for certain vehicles. Through seamless integration with telematics, any emergencies will be immediately reported to both authorities and stakeholders to facilitate immediate response.
As the antennas will also be mounted in a moving vehicle, it is also important to consider form factor and durability, particularly if the antennas are robust enough to withstand harsh conditions. Antennas can come in flat, rectangular, square, circular, and even irregular forms. They can also be mounted internally or externally. All these form factors have their respective advantages and disadvantages. For example, a flat-panel directional antenna can be easily mounted externally to the vehicle's body but doing so can result in coverage issues in low-signal areas.
Considering the business' long-term requirements, it is also an option to choose either a passive antenna or an active one. While active antennas are more flexible, if the needs of the business do not require sophisticated features, a passive antenna will serve the purpose just as well.
In further assessing options for antennas, it is also very important to perform simulations and tests prior to rollout. Factors such as measurements, location, interaction with the vehicle and the entire system, among others, need to be simulated to ensure that the antennas will perform as intended.
Choosing The Right EMS partner
We're already living in a world where the Cloud, and the telematics technologies that it enables, are changing how we conduct business. The Internet of Things (IoT) and Telematics solutions can help you run your company more efficiently by automating processes like distribution and procurement. There is, however, no economical Cloud functionality that makes sense in absence of accurate antennas on the equipment involved. You can't expect to get your ship through the Internet of Things without a suitable antenna to hold the sails. The antenna is the current iteration of safe and successful passage through IoT. For this reason, your business needs a reputable vendor who will not just provide and configure, but also has the capacity to assist with testing, implementation, and maintenance.
In essence, there are no "one-size-fits-all" antenna configurations for businesses. It is always encouraged to tailor-fit everything according to one’s business needs. Choosing the right antenna and its configuration for connected devices can be overwhelming. Some of the most important factors to consider are the following: its cost-efficiency and multimodality, if emergency services are also available; then its form factor and durability as well as choosing between passive or active antennas. It is also important to perform simulation, integration, and verification testing to ensure that the antenna chosen is the most suitable for the whole system.
To find out more about how a business can empower vehicle telematics RF performance with robust antenna designs, let us have your details and we'll send you a copy of our whitepaper.