Why do I need an OBD II device?

Why do you need an OBD II device? First things first. Veturilo is an IoT platform. It communicates with your vehicles using a set of different technologies that allow for the exchange of information between the platform and the vehicles.

Part of this set of technologies is a piece of hardware that you can plug into your vehicles, ensuring each vehicle meets the minimum requirements to facilitate communication with the platform. And that piece of hardware is the OBD II device.

What is an OBD II device?

OBD means On-Board Diagnostics. Its a term used by the automotive industry and it refers to a vehicle’s ability to perform a self-diagnostic cycle and report back the results. In general, OBD systems allow repair technicians access to the status of a vehicle’s sub-systems. Vehicle owners can also benefit from this type of information.

To be exact, “OBD II” simply means the protocol of communication that reports back all this information, is currently at its second iteration (or version). It also means that it’s quite different from the protocol of communication previously used in “OBD I”devices.

What’s the modern reality?

OBD functionality came about as soon as we found there was a need to measure vehicles for greenhouse gas emissions and regulate limits accordingly.

OBD II was introduced in the US in 1996

The first OBD II ports were built into vehicles in 1996 in the US. The specification was made mandatory for all cars sold in the United States (see CCR Title 13 Section 1968.1 and 40 CFR Part 86 Section 86.094).

OBD II was introduced in the EU in 2001

The respective directive took a bit longer for Europe to implement. The first European vehicle to include OBD II functionality was in 2001. The European Union made the European version of OBD mandatory for all gasoline (petrol) vehicles sold in the European Union (see European emission standards Directive 98/69/EC).

The emissions control directive

The US vehicle emission standards

The US federal emission standards are managed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This is done at a national level. Emission regulations in California predate the national standards and are, in fact, stricter. That is why California has a waiver from the EPA to enact stricter requirements. Any state can adopt California standards or abide by EPA regulation.

The EU vehicle emission standards

Being multinational, the EU has a quite different way to regulate greenhousse gas emissions for vehicles. The emission standards are defined in a series of EU directives. These directives aim at introducing increasingly stricter standards, in stages. These stages are typically known as “Euro 1”, through “Euro 6”, for Light Duty Vehicle standards. A “Euro I” through “Euro VI” scale is used for trucks, buses and large goods vehicles.

The need for data logging, using an OBD II diagnostics port

Soon after the implementation of OBD, it became apparent we could use it to monitor much more than emissions. Modern OBD II implementations use a standardized digital communications port, to provide real-time data. And that’s in addition to a standardized series of Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTC). It’s a feature that allows technicians identify malfunctions within the vehicle, promptly repairing them.

Real-time data includes normal vehicle operation data, such as engine temperature, gas and oil levels, accelerometer measurements, mechanical faults and more. You can analyze most of this data at a later time for diagnostics or tuning. However, part of it can prove useful in monitoring driver behavior; which is mostly used by fleet operators.

How IoT and connected cars came about

In a crude sense, a connected car is one that can share Internet access and data with other devices, even outside the vehicle. General Motors was the first to bring such features to market with OnStar, in 1996. Many auto manufacturers followed this path bringing similar features to market.

Today, more than 20 years later, technology allows us to implement more complex features. That’s, using mobile networks and a host of different devices we can connect to our vehicles; communicating and sending or receiving data, for all sorts of different uses. That’s the Internet of Things (IoT), in a nutshell.

Today’s needs in vehicle management

Growing needs for better time management and increased productivity with the least resources possible beg for solutions, such as these. Especially in highly competitive environments, where performance counts by the second.

Small to medium fleet services, including all types of contractors or repair services, facility truck services, taxi and limo services, delivery vehicles belong in the long-tail part of their market. This means there a lot of small to medium services out there. Managing them with efficiency may make the difference between making them or breaking them. And this is where Veturilo can help!

Veturilo is your solution for vehicle or vehicle management

There is a host of solutions available to manage fleets. And while some are custom made or extremely complicated for highly specific use, others may be unnecessarily difficult to deploy, despite their simplicity and ease of use. 

Now, consider the cost incurred when you need to maintain computer servers in-house; and try to sustain seamless operation for all pertinent application services. All these services are rendered useless if you don’t have the technical know how. And getting it is no easier; you need to hire one or more technical staff, train them, have them certified and well motivated to keep doing a good job. Let alone all the hardware and software you may need to license every now and again. And what about the vehicles? A wired hardware solution means downtime and may be quite expensive.

What most businesses need is a solution that works right off the shelf, works with a piece of plug-and-play hardware through your OBD II port, they can install it in seconds and have it receiving data in minutes. Why? Because it’s easy, affordable and trouble free. It’s also the closest you can get to technology agnostic. Regardless of the device you’re using, the data you can see, analyze and use is exactly the same!

Veturilo is one such solution, with small to medium fleet operating businesses in mind. It’s low cost, maintenance-free and easy to install and use. And you can see your data directly on your phone, almost in real-time! All you need is plug the OBD II devices we provide to your vehicles.

How does an OBD II device help?

Nearly every vehicle, or at least Light Duty vehicles, such as cars, vans and small trucks come complete with an Engine Control Unit (ECU). This is essentially the brains of your car. It ensures optimal engine performance, reading values from a plethora of sensors. These are located within the engine bay and keep making constant adjustments, as needed.

An OBD II device can “read” information from the ECU, as the ECU provides them. In order for this information to be readable by car owners, a specialized IoT platform needs to receive it, process it and store it for later use. Veturilo is one such platform. It makes sure to receive information from the OBD II device via mobile network (SIM card included). Then it reads and processes the information and sends it back to the owner’s mobile phone, in a readable format.

There is no reason to worry about security. Each OBD II device is matched and locked to your account with Veturilo. When you install Veturilo on your phone, you need to log in to the platform before you can see data from your devices. Veturilo knows which devices are yours. No one else can see data from your vehicles.

How is a Cloud-based platform better than a Bluetooth-based application?

This is actually a good question. There is no definite answer. It actually depends on how you’re planning to use your solution. There is a difference between a GPS tracker, a data logger and an all around IoT solution. Each solution solves different problems.

A GPS tracker

A system that collects longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates in a serial manner. Thus, providing you the last known position of your vehicle, at fixed intervals. The GPS tracker does it at greater intervals. That way, it ensures you get the last known position of your vehicle. It is generally useful in monitoring a vehicle’s route; and provide enough information to retrieve it, in case it’s lost or stolen. No Cloud-based or Bluetooth technology is essential.

A GPS map

While quite similar to a GPS tracker, it does this at much smaller intervals, ensuring better accuracy. It helps you find the best route to reach your destination. No Cloud-based or Bluetooth technology is essential here, either.

An ELD(Electronic Data Logger)

It logs information at regular intervals without great detail. It is mostly used in professional vehicles, especially large goods vehicles. These devices are mostly used to manage driving time, controlling fatigue levels and reduce highway accidents, among other reasons. And according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Adminstration (FMCSA), starting December 16, 2019, all carriers and drivers subject to the ELD rule must use ELDs. Since the highway police needs to be able to check these logs, Bluetooth technology is used to display trip-related information from the ECU to a small screen. One that’s hard wired to the vehicle’s dashboard.

A Cloud-based platform…

…such as Veturilo, can be much more than all of the above, depending on the type of solution they provide. Oftentimes, Cloud-based solutions for vehicle management employ the use of mobile networks. That’s to exchange information among fleet vehicles and a centralized management platform, updating any de-centralized system in the process. This means you get historical data, you ensure business continuity, you maintain alerts and events for later use; and are able to collect behavioral data from drivers. That way, you can suggest all sorts of possible improvements to make them more efficient.

What’s in it for you?

With Veturilo you get an all-in-one solution:

  • Trip logs for deductible expenses, ready to send to your accountant
  • Historical data for better resale value, when you need to replace fleet vehicles
  • Behavioral data from drivers, to make recommendations for better efficiency in performance. Also for fuel economy and maintenance, which helps avoid downtime
  • Business continuity, since every bit of information is on the Cloud. You never lose anything!
  • Alerts and warnings about anything, on as many devices as you need
  • Fleet management in groups, allowing teams of drivers to view all information pertinent to the group
  • DTC recommendations are sent directly to both the fleet managers and drivers
  • Sharing vehicle position and/or application screenshots (including map) with fleet manager, in case of a breakdown
  • Fuel management for better economy
  • Notifications when a vehicle is being towed

There is more on the way. Register now and give it a try!

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