Tech Tips

3 Easy Steps to Kick-Start Any Vehicle/Fleet Activity Monitoring Project

posted Apr 7, 2010, 8:22 AM by Location Technologies

All LTI GPS/AVL Modem devices have I/O capability to monitor the activity of work vehicles during operations.  The value of next generation GPS/AVL Fleet Management systems such as our Navigo GPS/AVL Fleet Management Package is determined by combining position/time information from GPS with indications of what a vehicle is doing during its operations life cycle.  Moving a dot on a map simply isn’t good enough to meet the demands of current fleet and operations managers. 


Determining how to monitor virtually any vehicle activities can be done by following these three easy steps.


1. Decide on the activity to be monitored.  For example in public works this could mean monitoring broom on or plow down, in utilities it could be bucket arm extended or PTO On/Off.  LTI GPS/AVL Modem devices allow you to monitor up to 14 different fleet operations activities on any given vehicle.


2. Determine if these activities are Digital (binary, on/off) or Analog (time varying, counter controlled).  Digital or binary activities are classified as On/Off conditions such as PTO On/Off or Blade Up/Down.  Analog activities are classified as being controlled by varying voltage or time values such as spreader rates or drum rotations.


3. Establish a scheme to electrically connect the LTI GPS/AVL modem to get an indication of the state of the monitored activity.


For binary inputs look for switch closures and voltage swings.  Check first if there is a switch or relay used to control the action.  If so there are often spare contacts that can be connected to the digital inputs of our GPS/AVL Modem.  If none are available check to see if a light is used to show the operator if the desired monitored condition is active or not.  If so then tap into the line feeding the light and use this voltage as an indicator of the status of the activity.  Your final option is to use a switch of some sort to measure the mechanical position of a control surface such that the switch opens or closes based on the movement of the surface.  An example would be a purely hydraulic system that controls the action on the vehicle.  For example a simple dump truck. 


Monitoring analog values is often more challenging.  The basic process is to somehow convert the value of the activity to a voltage level or data stream that can be interpreted by our GPS/AVL Modem.  Fortunately LTI has developed several pre-canned interfaces to standard vehicle activities such as spread rate, pressures, lengths, temperatures, and spin rates. 


As always, you can check with the engineers at LTI for technical support and advice.


Next time we’ll continue this series with a discussion on what to do with the data you are collecting.  Topics will include report options, map display strategies, and analysis.  We’ll wrap the series in a third installment with a description of common vehicle monitor actions such as engine diagnostic bus, Idle time, time of operation, and geofencing.

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