Solar Solutions For Transportation Part 2: Telematics

Posted on 06/02/2020 at 12:00 by Kip Johnson

Solar Solutions For Transportation Part 2 Telematics Title Graphic

The second part of our series on power needs in the transportation industry examines telematics solutions. 


Telematics is a growing field in the industry allowing fleet managers and dedicated telematics solution providers to dramatically improve fleet operations, increase efficiency, and reduce costs.


What are telematics solutions?


Telematics is an interdisciplinary field that encompasses telecommunications, vehicular technologies, for instance, road transport, road safety, electrical engineering (sensors, instrumentation, wireless communications, etc.), and computer science (multimedia, Internet, etc.). 


Telematics can involve any of the following:

  • the technology of sending, receiving and storing information using telecommunication devices to control remote objects

  • the integrated use of telecommunications and informatics for application in vehicles and to control vehicles on the move

  • global navigation satellite system technology integrated with computers and mobile communications technology in automotive navigation systems

  • (most narrowly) the use of such systems within road vehicles, also called vehicle telematics

Telematics - Wikipedia.


In PowerFilm's experience, the rapidly growing use of vehicle telematics is tracking an ever-expanding set of data points from each vehicle in any given fleet. Beyond location, many telematics solutions now track detailed information about a vehicle or trailer. 


For example, the Road Ready™ trailer telematics solution can track lights, brakes, tires, cargo, temperature, doors, and untethered status. Additional sensors are continually being added to telematics solutions, increasing value to fleet operators while adding to the solution's overall power requirements.


Telematics information is typically transmitted wirelessly back to a central location, often in the cloud, and accessed through a monitoring center. 


On each vehicle, the sensors collecting data, the processing unit managing data, and the radio transmitting the data all need power. Power requirements can vary greatly depending on the amount of data collected, and most importantly, by how often that data gets transmitted.




There are several challenges fleet operators, and telematics providers face with powering telematics solutions today. 


The first is that the solutions are generally powered by batteries, which have a finite life. Those batteries will need to be recharged or replaced regularly. Larger batteries will require less frequent maintenance but will also be more expensive.


A telematics system can run off either the vehicle battery or a separate, dedicated battery.


Using the vehicle battery for a trailer telematics solution, the 'blue line' does not allow for untethered monitoring of a trailer. In many fleets, trailers outnumber tractors by two to one, meaning half of the trailers are untethered at any given time. 


This limits full monitoring capability, as there are almost always untethered trailers that fleet operators would like to watch. It can also provide long-term drain and damage on the vehicle battery depending on the telematics solution's power needs. 


The second option, using a dedicated battery for the telematics solution, protects the vehicle's main battery. However, the dedicated battery will also have an expected life and will require regular replacement or recharging. This adds to the long-term total cost of ownership.




Solar power can be delivered to the dedicated, rechargeable telematics solution battery to ensure the battery stays healthy and provides the energy needed for the telematics solution's full operation. Further, as long as the vehicle or trailer is stored outside the solar can provide a perpetual flow of data from the monitoring sensors in the solution.


Over the last 15 years, PowerFilm has worked with a variety of asset tracking and telematics solutions covering trucking, container, and rail transportation. Depending on the solution scale, power needs, and fleet operator requirements, one of several solar solutions will provide the best performance.


Below is a table with panels we have provided to the telematics market. In addition, PowerFilm can create a custom solar panel to meet specific power requirements.


Telematics solutions we offer table


PowerFilm has supplied solar power for a variety of telematics solutions over the last 15 years. From the earliest days of GPS location-tracking as a sole benefit up to today's leading solution providers requiring much higher power, PowerFilm can design and deliver the power solution to meet any telematics' needs.


Tracking business operations is vital for fleet operators wanting to maximize the efficiency of their fleet. 


Telematics provides the data points these operators desperately need to continually reduce operations costs. 


Solar solutions keep these systems online, operational, and help avoid downtime replacing batteries.


Do you have a telematics power need you're trying to solve?


We are here to help and can develop a custom solution for you today. 


Contact us, and let's get started.