22 December, 2017

Adjustable wrench of telematics: universal device configurator unveiled

flespi platform now features a friendly interface for devices setup regardless of the manufacturer and the protocol used.
Disclaimer: flespi registry module merged with the gateway module to form the telematics hub between devices and platforms.

Devices: near, far, and both

Some devices are always at hand — say, Wi-Fi routers or printers — you plug the cable, open a configuration tool, and manage all device settings. Some devices are remote — like Rosetta’s Philae module navigating the space 510 million km away. It takes a signal 30 minutes to travel from the command center to the module via a channel with 8 bit/s bandwidth. Managing this type of “devices” may require rolling up the sleeves.

Our subject is a distinct breed — it can be both near and far, online and offline, and may require configuration at any time. It’s a GPS-tracker. Easily configurable when lying on the table, this device compares to the space probe in accessibility when riding in the middle of nowhere. flespi universal device configurator enables always-on-the-table mode for you.

Justifying the need for remote device configurator

“Why do I need to configure the device remotely?”, you can reasonably ask. You’ve got the point there. The common scenario goes like this: you unbox the device, configure it locally, install it on a truck, and unleash it into the wild. For the next ten years, the tracker works like a charm without any need to interrupt it, right?

But what if

  • you need to reduce the tracker’s traffic (reduce message frequency or change GPRS APN settings to roaming mode)?
  • a GPS chip got broken, and you want to switch the device to navigate via GLONASS, Galileo or Beidou?
  • you want to switch the device into power-saving mode to track a truck with the engine off?

All these device parameters (and many more) are easily adjustable from the comfort of the flespi registry device configurator. Let’s peek inside!

Looking at the interface and capabilities

For demonstration we picked the following three trackers: Teltonika FMB920, ATrack AX7, and GoSafe G6S. Once the flespi devices for the trackers are set up, we are all set for configuration.

teltonika fmb920 channel device

Hitting the “wrench” icon will lead you to the Settings page where all the configuration happens. The settings are grouped into tabs based on the purpose.

flespi configurator demo teltonika atrack gosafe

Changing a setting

flespi configurator settings change

  • to apply a setting change, click the blue button with an arrow in the corresponding card;
  • until you click Send, you can use the undo button to revert all changed values to their current state.
  • once the command is sent, the setting switches to the Pending state. Clicking on the Pending button shows the Current state of the setting; clicking again with go back to the Pending state.
  • while in pending state, you can cancel (red X button) the setting change and tweak it.
  • the setting will apply as soon as the tracker goes online. At this same moment the pending state is over.
  • the Clean button clears all data in the database related to the setting. This may be useful if you connect a new physical tracker to an existing flespi device and want to remove all unrelated historical data.
  • question marks throughout the page give short information on the corresponding elements.

Important remarks

  • as the configurator is in the stage of intensive development, the layout of forms is subject to slight changes (e.g., some setting may get merged or separated);
  • even though the configurator makes life easier, it is still important to understand the device capabilities;
  • our current intention is to implement at least two settings (server and message retrieval interval) for ALL devices supported in the flespi platform. Once done, we will devote ourselves to implementing ALL settings for each of these devices;
  • we synchronize the state of all tracker’s settings every 24 hours
  • UPD 26-Jan-2017: we added the possibility to change device settings via SMS.

Considering alternatives

You can ask another reasonable question: “Why can’t I use a manufacturer-provided device configurator?” And again, you can if

  • such tool exists
  • you’ve got devices from the same manufacturer

But what if you have a fleet of hundreds (let alone thousands) of trucks equipped with trackers by multiple brands? You don’t want a handful of configurators to manage. And we don’t want you to sacrifice your health and personal life to configure all these devices in time.

Common-sense note: you will be able to use the device configurator for protocols supporting configuration commands. And

no configurable settings no problems

Final thoughts

There is a number of cheap low-quality tracking devices without remote configuration functions. It does reduce the upfront cost for your business but will drain your nervous system and resources in the long run. For a business to scale easily and be perceptive to new trends, your application needs to be adaptive, and its components need to be flexible. High-quality tracking hardware will give you maneuverability in reacting to situations you can’t predict.

In fact, installing a GPS tracker on a vehicle is often comparable in price to the tracker itself. Indeed, one needs to prepare the spot, hold the wiring for the power supply, install the tracker and the sensors. From our partners’ experience, it takes three hours of highly qualified labor to install a GPS-tracker with several sensors connected.

Additional costs associated with customization, reliability, and manageability of the cheaper trackers can make price benefits negligible. So choose strategically, buy smarter devices, and tune instantly with the flespi registry device configurator!

***

The flespi configuration tool will keep getting new protocols support and additional features on a regular basis. Should you have any ideas or suggestions, let us know.

Feel the taste of revolution, and prepare for more.



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How to configure tracking devices with flespi? And why?

A comprehensive flespi device configurator guide intended to highlight its core capabilities and features.