Whoops, when things go wrong!
The top 10 client errors when setting up telematics, tracking, IoT or M2M cellular connected devices.
No-one is perfect, we’re all busy and sometimes we rush at things a little without the correct preparation. Reading user guides and manuals is generally one of those tasks that gets ignored, and in our rush to get things working, we ‘dive in’ and cherry pick the pages we think we need to read.
It’s only when we come to testing (and let’s hope that isn’t on a live or customers device) that we find there’s an issue.
The first reaction to most is that it’s the device at fault, we hear “it can’t be anything I’ve done” or “it doesn’t work”, our experience is that there are only a tiny (<1%) proportion of errors that are down to device failure. Over the years we’ve pretty much seen all of the errors that lead to failures, so we thought we’d publish a quick look at the Top 10 issues we’ve seen that can lead to device failure or issues, in the hope that it saves new integrators time and frustration in the future.
So, here’s the list, in no particular order, not designed as a finger wagging exercise, more a guide to ensure you don’t fall down similar potholes, some may seem obvious and easy, but it’s often these steps we neglect to double check when moving on to more complex elements of the solution design.
The Top 10 client ‘Gotchas’:
- When exploring a Telematics device for the first time, the SIM can be a challenge as we expect to simply insert the SIM into a device and it work - just like our smartphones. For most Telematics devices this is not the case and some knowledge is required before using a SIM. (Simple Solutions can provide both the knowledge or even a SIM, preinstalled and ready to go on delivery to you).
- SIM APN authentication type - PAP or CHAP for APN with username and password. SIM vendors should provide clear guidance on the correct settings and can be critical to obtaining a successful network connection. Please do not assume the default setting is correct or relying on an automated discovery process.
- Use the correct tools and process when opening a device - large screwdrivers (even hammers!) are not appropriate. Any physical damage to returned product becomes difficult to ensure the warranty is still valid. We provide suitable guidance and documentation for opening and closing all our devices.
- Ensure the primary power source is both sufficient to power the device and remains within the specified range. Device resets are common when either the supply voltage is too low, or the current capacity is not sufficient. Excess voltage transients can cause the internal power supply to fail or circuit protection components to fail, resulting in a complete failure of the device. Simple Solutions can provide transient protection cables for all of our devices.
- Application Server details should be checked before deploying devices to the field. Typographic errors on initial configuration or IP and Port migration can be experienced over the lifetime of a deployment and care should be taken to ensure these parameters are correct. While a resolution can be relatively simple, diagnosis while in the field and subject to the additional time pressures during install can lead to the whole experience being very frustrating to all.
- When configuring devices, it’s good practice to ensure the first command restores the device to factory default to ensure there are no residual configuration parameters that may interfere with your expected configuration functionality.
- Development of any device configuration should follow best practice observed when creating any software component, such as clear documentation, version control and definitely back up to a safe and secure repository.
- Communicating with Telematics devices through a configuration cable can sometimes not be as simple as we would like, especially with most still using the legacy RS232 protocol and physical connections. Simple Solutions provide complete, end to end, communication cables for all requirements, including USB device drivers and Terminal Applications to make life simple.
- Device orientation and location can significantly affect the performance of both the location and communication systems within the device. Some devices contain clear instruction on the device label as to which face should be directed toward the sky, but some do not. Care should be taken during install to ensure the device is orientated appropriately and that the device is securely fixed so that the orientation is maintained over the life of the installation. If in doubt, please ask.
- Not implementing the server acknowledgement, or not implementing it correctly. A common error that can result in multiple message retries and large data usage.
In addition to the above here a snapshot of some pointers that didn’t make the Top 10 but are worthy of note:
- wrong or missing APN settings (user/pass)
- SIM not activated
- SMS service not active (not essential but useful to have for recovery)
- data tariff reached or PAYG not topped up
- when connected serially, not talking to the right com port (an oldie but a goodie)
- incorrect wiring installation (incl. blown fuse)
- external antenna cable crushed or broken on install