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'Top Considerations Before Starting Your IoT Design Project' (Part 3 of 4) by Symmetry Application Engineers Anuja Upale & Nimit Pradhan

Michael Venezia in Blogs on August 10, 2016

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This is part 3 of 4 of an article that originally appeared on Click here to read the full article.

by Symmetry Application Engineers Anuja Upale & Nimit Pradhan

Case Study #2 – Fleet Management

Fleet management is about as different from a hospital environment as you can get, yet we still used the same basic questions about size, range, environment, security and integration to help us select and recommend the right technology for this, our second application.

The customer, a developer, contacted us to help them develop an application to provide location-based services for vehicle tracking. The goal in this case was to leverage cellular networks and GPS satellites to send an alert from each vehicle to a control system regarding its location and mileage, fuel consumption while refueling, and CO2 emission for carbon offsetting.

As with most types of development applications, size was an important consideration. The developer wanted a compact module that would not take up a lot of space on their board. They were also concerned about the size and weight of the packaging, or surface mount technology. This is an important consideration as some packaging is high density, with provision of hundreds of pins, while others offer a light-weight, thin footprint. The thermal and electrical characteristics of the packaging is also critical. The qualities of the packaging can affect the overall heat flow between the printed circuit board (PCB) and the chip, and in some cases may protect the chipset from overheating and potentially damaging the device. Of all the surface mounting technologies, we typically recommend BGA or LGA for fleet management applications. BGA offers high density and ensures the quality of the device during machine placement of the module. LGA is more robust and therefore a smart option for fleet management applications with harsh environmental considerations.

Long signal range and global connectivity were perhaps the most important aspects of this location-based service application. For this reason, we recommended a cellular module that supports multiple frequency bands. These modules have better coverage throughout the network and ensure operation in remote, as well as high-population, areas. Cellular also offers a variety of different technologies like 2G (with GSM or CDMA), 3G (with HSP and EVDO), and 4G LTE. If an application needs higher throughput, we might recommend high performance 3G modules. If low cost is a priority, there are 2G modules that offer less throughput but cost optimization.

Once used primarily for backhaul communication between industrial plants to connect and manage remote devices, today’s cellular technologies are now being used to support real-time monitoring of assets. For this application, we recommended a module that would extend functionality beyond basic cellular service to advanced telematics, to better manage inventory, analyze usage, improve safety and reduce loss.

In order to take advantage of member carrier networks, carriers require that each individual module and the final integrated product be fully tested and PTCRB certified. Certification can be a lengthy and expensive process, so we recommended leveraging off-the-shelf modules that are pre-certified to meet specific RF protocol standards as set by their governing bodies (i.e., Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), Wi-Fi Alliance, ZigBee Alliance, etc.), to demonstrate reliability and performance and help speed the certification process.

Environment can wreak havoc on fleet management. Vehicles are often on the road for long stretches of time and subject to all kinds of road conditions and weather. As a result, the module needed to be robust and capable of maintaining stable performance despite rugged or harsh environments and a wide variety of temperature ranges. The module also needed to be field programmable, since once installed it’s not really practical to remove them for software upgrades.

In feet management applications, most cellular modules also have an integrated GPS, or are bundled with a high-sensitivity GPS product, to provide services in remote locations. This is where interoperability comes into play. If interoperability is not enabled, an integrated solution or a bridge or gateway (made up of hardware and software) will need to be created to connect the different technologies.

To ensure the security of the vehicles we recommended using an alarm system that can alert the user when a breaching event occurs. The events may include keeping the door open longer than a time interval, power failure or tampering with the vehicle. These types of security features can be integrated with any device for the peace of mind of the fleet owner.

For IoT product information or technical support, contact Symmetry Electronics, an authorized distributor of industry leading wireless, audio/video and embedded chips, modules and dev/evaltools. or call (877) 466-9722.


Michael Venezia in Blogs on August 10, 2016

About Michael Venezia

(866) 506-8829


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