The Telematics Blog 

To OBD or not to OBD (that is the plug and play question)? 
 
Advancements in OBD II Plug & Play telematics technology, means there is as strong an offering of viable plug and play solutions to fleets across the globe as there ever has been. Yet there are still many arguments against Plug & Play, that it isn’t reliable, can be unplugged easily and won’t produce the same results that a hardwired solution will. 
 
While this may be true of some Plug & Play solutions, there are several on the market that will provide the feature rich functionality of a hardwired device, you just have to do a little digging. 
 
Typically, the market for a Plug & Play solution will be in Car and LCV fleets. For the Car fleets, Plug & Play offers owner driver vehicles (i.e. employees with car allowance) a non-intrusive install option, meaning their dashboard doesn’t need to be dismantled to install the device. A common complaint amongst fleets with a high percentage of owner drivers. 
 
For the LCV market the same is very much true, the install is often straight forward, with the added benefit that the devices can be moved between vehicles with greater ease. This is particularly useful for fleets utilising short term lease vehicles, or hiring temporary owner drivers during peak periods. 
 
The challenge here of course, is keeping track of what device is in which vehicle, but with the correct processes in place this should be easy to maintain. 
 
Another interesting factor presented by Plug & Play devices, is giving the Fleet Manager the ability to take control of their installation programme. Of course this will still need planning and forethought as to how to execute without causing major disruption to business, but self-install often means you are working to your own agenda and not reliant on the availability of someone else’s technicians. 
 
“But they can be easily removed, which presents risk and potential loss” I hear you say. This is absolutely true; the nature of Plug & Play devices means they can be easily unplugged from the OBD II port. However, many devices are fitted with an internal battery, that charges while plugged in. If the device happens to be unplugged, the power source reverts to the battery. If the device is clever enough, it detects the drop in power supply current and will send a real time notification to alert you to a possible first notification of loss or misuse of the device. 
 
Other features include DTC readings, RPM, Airflow, MPG capability as well as inbuilt accelerometers, meaning these devices can support driver behaviour programmes, and measure accurate fuel consumption. This coupled with cheaper hardware costs, and no installation fees, presents businesses with a cost effective solution that provides great ROI opportunity. 
 
The next time you speak to a vendor who advises against Plug & Play, take a closer look at why they’ve told you this. Investigate whether they have a Plug & Play solution to offer, if they don’t, is it on their road map? If it is on their road map, how far down the development path is it, and when is their release date for general market availability? 
 
Like the VHS, Betamax, Cassette Tape and Mini Disc are we going to see the hardwired devices disappear into history? As the market demands more from mobile technology, Apps with more feature rich content and the technology develops I believe we will see a shift to OBD II Plug & Play devices as a default 1st choice. While I am not brave enough to predict when we will see a significant shift, I suspect it may be closer than many think. 
 
If you’re interested in finding out how your drivers can save you money, we’ll be delighted to have a chat with you. Call us on 0800 043 2028 or email [email protected] 
 
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