Nick Walker's blog: 10 November - Don't DIY for telematics
10 November 2016
Telematics is a fast-growing area right now, with more and more businesses and fleet managers seeing the benefits of investing in the technology, which is a really positive sign for the future of the sector.
However, I have some real concerns about the potential for problems and faults if people are choosing to install the devices into vehicles themselves, without proper training and qualifications.
Anecdotally we understand this is becoming a real problem for some drivers and it seems to be particularly problematic where self-install is being proposed to reduce upfront cost to individual drivers and small businesses.
We certainly wouldn't recommend that drivers install their own telematics devices because in our view it takes a professional technician to ensure each device is fitted properly, securely and is working as it should.
Self-install can be false economy and end up causing more problems than the money it saves.
In many ways a telematics device is a very straightforward piece of kit, which is the beauty of it. It starts to work as soon as it's plugged in, and you can forget it's even in the vehicle once it's up and running.
But making sure it's fitted in the best place on the vehicle isn't necessarily as straightforward to the untrained eye, which is why we always recommend professional installation.
The problem is compounded by the number of plug-in devices now on the market from companies that aren't automotive specialists and so don't necessarily appreciate the potential complexities associated with installing a diagnostic device.
Quite simply, if it's not fitted correctly from day one, there is a real danger that it will either give the driver bad data, or simply not work, and either way the business will be losing out on potentially thousands of pounds in cost savings.
It needs to be fitted securely so that the internal sensors pick up accurate movement data and also to stop it from coming loose. In the worst case scenario it could pose a real danger to the driver if it falls out into the footwell and gets lodged under the brake pedal for example.
A professional installer will ensure it's also fitted out of sight so if the vehicle is stolen the thief won't necessarily be aware the device is fitted, but also they will make sure it is installed away from any other electrics so that it doesn't interfere with anything else in the vehicle.
It's almost like investing in a new computer network for your office, only to attach the hard drives to the monitors with sticky tape and hope for the best.
But there is a serious point here, which is that businesses and individual drivers could easily lose faith in the technology if it fails, simply because it has been incorrectly installed. That is not only a huge problem for those businesses affected, but also for the wider telematics sector if it is wrongly labelled as unreliable technology because of those bad experiences.
Essentially, it's a false economy to think you can save on installation costs by taking a DIY approach because it could result in extra costs to your business to put it right, if it goes wrong.