4 hardware challenges every company faces in Employee Transport Management and how to overcome them

GPS (Global Positioning System) works by the process of triangulation of satellites, where differences in the time taken by radio signals to travel between the receiver and each of at least three other visible satellites are calculated to determine the location, speed, and direction of the receiver on earth.Companies, particularly those who look for Hardware-based tracking and management of their fleet for enhanced security for their employees and also to be 100% compliant with local regulations, face a bunch of difficulties that are unique to Hardware-based vehicle tracking.  Listed down below are a few of those challenges and ways to address them.

Backup supply

Traditionally, a GPS tracker's backup power-management system for batteries consisted of multiple ICs (Integrated Circuits), a high-voltage buck regulator, a battery charger, plus a set of discrete components. Hence, earlier tracking systems were not very compact in their form factor. A typical application for a tracking system uses an automotive battery and a single-cell Li-ion battery for storage and backup.The vehicle GPS tracking is a terrific service when operating correctly.  Even if a car gets stolen and taken to get parted out, and in the process the car battery gets disconnected, the GPS tracker backup battery will kick in and the user will be able to communicate with the vehicle and get the exact location. That is why having a GPS tracker with a backup battery is so important. Also, battery power is required, as much as the backup capability to preserve data in case of power loss. Due to the higher automotive system voltages and currents required to charge the battery (typically a single-cell Li-ion), a switch-mode charger is desirable for its higher charging efficiency when compared to a linear battery charging IC, since it generates less heat in the form of power dissipation.The device can be directly connected to the vehicle circuit for power. The internal battery is supposed to use as a backup source when there is no direct battery connected like in the event of theft when wires are disconnected. The average working time of a regular available internal battery is 4-7 hours.  The devices consume less power themselves and thus do not affect the performance of the vehicle battery.  The advantage that the user gets is the ability to access the location and controls, even if the device is disconnected from the main source.

Network connectivity

PS data is a collection of objects whose location changes with time while in motion. We can get the GPS to co-ordinate data in each second to be sent to the server for the precision in tracking. For this, the device should have reliable network connectivity to be able to send accurate location information. The most common practice is to use a data subscription in 2G/4G mobile networks.Most dedicated GPS devices include a mobile data module that uses a standard SIM (Subscriber Identification Module) card. This SIM card allows the device to send the location packets, sending emergency SMS (Short Message Service), and read the SMS which comes to the device. This type of SMS can be classified as control SMS or configuration SMS. Using the control SMS, the user can control entire vehicle features like an immobilizer, etc. The main challenge is to get a proper network coverage during the travel in remote areas. Normally the GPS devices come with a SIM slot where we can insert a SIM of our choice. Nowadays the devices have multiple sim card options that switch between each other according to the signal strength providing redundancy and better signal strength at all times.

Water damage

Normally the GPS device is placed over the dashboard in most of the vehicles, to provide maximum sky visibility for greater signal strength. Proper visibility provides GPS access all the time to the device. The challenge here is that whenever the vehicle goes for the water service, there is a chance for the GPS device to get water damaged. Since it is an electronic device even a drop of water can damage the entire board.The only option to overcome this problem is to make the device water resistant. We could get away from this challenge by providing the waterproof casing for the normal devices and the all-new AIS 140 devices are IP 67 (IP 67 means the unit can be dropped into a body of water up to a meter deep for half an hour and it is completely dust resistant).  For old devices, we could overcome this challenge by providing the waterproof casing for the normal devices.

GPS Faulty Tracking

Another rare yet possible issue is when the recording of tracking is faulty, inaccurate, contains "bumps" or "bounces" or “jumps” when a part of tracking data is missing. All these issues are a result of the server receiving bad GPS data from the device – mobile phone or tablet. In all these cases, the server receives location data that does not accurately represent the device location. Bad GPS data can result in missing of live tracking or inaccuracies in the calculation of distance travelled for billing e.g. extra distance recorded or recorded inaccurately, inaccurate elevation values, etc.Reasons and effects of this are quite obvious - the device may have simply lost a connection to GPS satellites and did not record any data; the recorded route shows straight lines ignoring paths or roads on the map. It may also be that the device may have recorded track points that deviate from the intended correct path. GPS devices and satellites communicate with extremely fast signals requiring precise detection and any slight inaccuracy in the signal's reception, or disturbance to the signal itself can translate into a significant error in the reported position. Environmental factors such as dense trees, steep hillsides, tall buildings, basement parking, etc. can adversely impact GPS signal between the device and the satellites.In order to avoid this, we need to use a hi-tech device that can communicate with all available positioning networks – GPS, Glonass, Beidou, and Galileo. The more satellites visible for our device above our head, the more accurate is the positioning. We need to make sure our device is mounted/carried as high up and unobstructed as possible, instead of being buried deep in an inaccessible place. We always must find a compromise between smoothness and accuracy of the recording. We should not set up too short intervals (too much data with a higher risk of deviations). On the other hand, too long intervals would result in an approximation of tracking results.
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