In today’s market place it seems that there are a variety of GPS tracking devices that plug into the OBD, on board diagnostic plug, in the vehicle. The consumer might be lead to believe that all of these devices are the same or that they provide the same data. Some devices on the market plug in to the diagnostic port to power the device only. Others provide data about the faults occurring in the vehicles engine. The Geotab engine diagnostic tools offer the user the broadest selection of protocols supported and the richest dataset available to ensure the efficient, safe operation of the fleet’s assets. According to Colin Sutherland, Geotab’s Vice President of Sales, Geotab’s technology can be referred to as “the Rosetta Stone” of the telematics market. Geotab understands and translates a comprehensive set of vehicle diagnostic codes, including those of hybrid and electric vehicles.
Understanding OBD Compliance
The term “OBD compliant” refers not to one standard but rather to a multitude of protocols all of which exist under the OBD umbrella. These protocols are typically identified by alpha numeric code that defines the communications methods that the vehicle uses to communicate. These protocols span a variety of different manufacturers and a manufacturer may alter the protocols from model year to model year.
Vehicles first started being equipped with a diagnostic port in the mid 1990’s vehicles. Since the first diagnostic ports were installed in the vehicles the protocols and the data they make available have changed greatly. OBD over CAN is the latest variation. CAN refers to the “Controller Area Network” – in an OBD over CAN a central network combines the data from additional inputs in the vehicle to allow Geotab to report non-engine related data using the same OBD connection in the vehicle. An example of non-engine data would include: seatbelt use monitoring and passenger detection in light duty vehicles or the automatic detection and reporting on PTO use in heavy duty vehicles.
It is important to consider the variety of vehicles in a fleet when evaluating an OBD plug and play solution. While all newer vehicles have a diagnostic plug not all GPS tracking solutions are designed to work with all of the vehicle types that exist today. Does your proposed solution work on all light duty and heavy duty trucks or do you need different devices for different assets? Will the solution work on the new hybrid vehicles that are gaining in popularity? Can the solution provide the complete data set from the heavy trucks two engine data protocols that run simultaneously on the newer vehicles? Remember to keep in mind the data you wish to consume today as well the long term goals for GPS tracking systems: How can the technology ease the administration of maintenance and total cost of ownership calculations on all of the assets in your fleet.
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