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8 October, 2020

Various uses of flespi channels

A lot more than simply getting the data from trackers to flespi.

Starting October 1, 2020, we increased the number of channels available in the Free account by one — now you can use up to three channels for comprehensive testing of the platform. To make your flespi experience more versatile and productive, we want to show you how flespi channels can be used not only as mere inbound data pipelines.

Below are the three major tasks that flespi channels can help you with (you can test them all together as it’s three channels you can create now for free).

Collect

Indeed, this is what every one of our customers (without exception) uses channels for. There’s simply no other way to get the data in flespi. Flespi supports a wealth of channels that will parse the incoming messages according to the respective protocol specification and save them in the unified JSON format for extracting via API or forwarding via streams. To be more specific, the sources of data for the flespi channels can be divided into the following categories:

GPS trackers — this is the most populous group comprising around 90% of all supported channel protocols.

IoT devices — since MQTT protocol is one of the standards in the IoT industry, flespi mqtt channel can be used as a gateway for the Internet of things units.

OEM platforms — flespi can consume the data from the original platforms developed by vehicle manufacturers even though sometimes the possibilities are limited. Flespi is currently working with Fleetboard (by Daimler) and Scania-FMS.

Industry standards — flespi works with several national and international standards used to transfer the telematics data: EGTS (from Russia), AIS140 (from India), AEMP (supported by multiple vehicle and equipment manufacturers like Komatsu, John Deere, Hyundai, etc.). 

Software trackers — using the phone as a tracker is often convenient and does not require additional investment. Flespi works with the following apps transforming your smartphone into a tracker: WiaTag and Traccar Client.

Generic protocols — these can be used in various cases by various platforms: HTTP, MQTT, Wialon Retranslator, Wialon IPS, Wialon Combine, and some others.

Modify

This functionality is far less obvious even though sometimes very powerful. Here are some examples.

You can use our mqtt channel to subscribe to messages from any original channel (described in the previous section) and customize them for consumption by the target app: namely, you can pick only the parameters you need and force these parameters to the naming convention of your choice thus making the resulting message perfectly fit for further processing down the line (more details here).

Another way to modify a message before making use of it is to run it through the pipe-cache-params channel to add all missing cached parameters.

Fork

Yep, the flespi proxy channel can do forwarding of raw traffic to up to three target destinations. This can be useful when:

  • you are testing a new fleet management platform (for possible migration) but still, want all messages in your current platform.

  • you need the data on several platforms (for different purposes), e.g. ERP, CRM, and fleet management system.

  • you want the hardware manufacturer to keep an eye on errors that may occur with their devices.

Advanced use: you can also use a proxy channel to debug an MQTT session — this helps detect various MQTT connection problems that may arise when working with integrations using MQTT API. 

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As you can see, using flespi even at its basic (gateway) level already empowers you to perform a number of versatile tasks far beyond simple data consumption. Chaining the channels (making one channel the source for the other channel) gives even more control over the incoming data.

Don’t hesitate to try some of the described scenarios —- our extended limits for Free accounts give more freedom for extensive testing.