Vehicle Asset Management System

Vehicle Telematics

Vehicle Asset Management System

The Challenge

Vehicle Asset Management System (VAM) products enable efficient management of vehicular fleets (e.g. fleets, emergency services and heavy equipment/machinery) and offer driver-behaviour monitoring for the vehicle insurance markets. This is achieved through incorporating cellular modems and GPS modules, both of which require antennas to function effectively.

There is often enormous market pressure to reduce the size of products of this kind, for example, so they can fit into a cramped location in the vehicle. This can transform the development of the antenna system from a straightforward integration of individual designs, focussed on particular frequency bands, to a highly complex custom development. Each antenna interacts strongly with other antennas and with components of the product (PCB, battery etc). In many ways, it can be said that the entire product becomes the antenna. Plextek began working on this technology in 1993 and since the initial brief works with multiple clients in this area through our spinout business Redtail Telematics.

The Approach

Fortunately, we have the ability to model the electromagnetics of the entire product, allowing us to predict the impact of design changes and reduce the need to iterate. The antenna design process used by Plextek also takes account of the VAM product placement in the vehicle and, in particular, consideration of materials close to the VAM unit that might affect the performance of the antenna system.

The VAM product uses a custom designed a multiband-band cellular antenna, integrated onto a PCB substrate together with a custom GPS antenna. This solution exceeds the performance requirements set out in the standards, resulting in a lower product cost than the equivalent COTS antennas and allows integration into a tiny product package.  Plextek is responsible for the design and manufacture of the Redtail Telematics range of Vehicle Asset Management (VAM) products.

The Outcome

In 2015, Plextek Ltd formally spun out Redtail Telematics, which provides turnkey vehicle telematics services to the fleet management and automotive insurance markets. Since 1993, Redtail have shipped more than six million tracking devices into line fit and aftermarket vehicles for stolen vehicle recovery. Redtail’s expertise in working collaboratively to answer challenging questions directs our efforts in working with OEMs to fulfil the potential of the connected vehicle, from line fit vehicle tracking with Mercedes Benz, through golf-cart battery health with Columbia Vehicle, to pothole detection with Jaguar Land Rover & Synaptiv.

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