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Disabling Devices

Sometimes, users wish to completely disable/deactivate a device. i.e. - they want to install it in an asset, and only 'turn on' the tracking (and subscription cost) some time later.

In general it's best to simply install a device at the time we wish to start using it.

Disabling a device is not as simple as it may seem. Our devices are embedded devices, designed to be installed once and remain operating for years. They do not have convenient on/off buttons - as this is not the purpose of an embedded tracking device. 

There is no way to 'shut down' a device remotely from the server - since if we did that, it would completely shut off comms - and we wouldn't be able to turn it back on again remotely

Key Considerations

There are a few key considerations:

  • Battery Life
  • Data Storage on Device
  • Software Charges (TG-PPM, Location Engine Lookup Fees)
  • Device health checks
  • RF sensitive areas

Battery Life

  • Devices will keep attempting to upload as they are configured
    • even if SIM cards are disabled
    • even if devices are 'disabled' server side (like on TG or OEM). 
  • For battery powered devices, this means the batteries will be getting drained at all times. 
  • For powered devices, this is less of an issue. 
  • If a device is not able to succesfully register on the network for 3 days, it will attempt an upload with a 10 minute registration timeout (i.e. leave the modem on for 10 minutes continuously). This is a fail safe to allow a device to  reconnect if something has gone wrong (i.e. misconfigured settings, timeouts). 

The end result being is if we simply disable the SIM card, and deactivate in TG, every 3 days the device will try to register for 10 minutes - which is about 30-50 times more expensive than a typical upload. The batteries will drain quickly!

To avoid excessive battery drain, the best course of action is:

  1. Configure the device for periodic updates, every 48hrs (max)
  2. Leave the SIM card enabled
  3. Ensure your network settings are configured optimally
    1. Set the Network Profile
    2. Configure your network registration plan/timeouts - (see device folders for specific info)
      1. Upload Timeouts - Network Registration Strategy [Oyster3]
      2. Upload Timeouts - Network Registration Strategy [Oyster Edge]
      3. Yabby Edge - Upload Settings - Early Cellular Registration Abort
      4. Cellular Battery Powered Device Upload Timeouts

Monthly SIM charges will still apply - but you could move down to the lowest plan as data use is minimal - which will be more cost effective than a battery change (battery cost + going out to the device)

Data Storage on Device

To prevent any data loss in the event of server downtime, or lack of network coverage - cellular devices store all records in their on-board memory. They are only removed once an acknowledgement of successful data transfer is received from the server. This means if a device cannot transfer it's data for some time - due to the SIM card being disabled, or the device being disabled on OEM/TG - when it is reenabled it will upload ALL of this stored data. 

This has implications:

  • We may not care about the data while the unit is disabled - if we did we might as well leave it enabled!
  • This can result in unexpected charges
    • For 'Edge' devices - once stored data is uploaded, the location engine will process the raw data and the lookup charges will apply - all in 1 month
    • For devices on TG-PPM - all the stored messages will flow through and apply to that month. 

This can be avoided by setting the connector in OEM to 'None' this allows the data to be successfully uploaded to OEM, deleted from the device, and discarded by OEM. 

Device Health

It is generally inadvisable to disable all updates from a device in any event. Something may go wrong with the device, SIM, batteries etc. Regular heartbeats serve as a useful health check to know everything is operating as it should. We would not want to 'deactivate' a device for 6 months, only to reactivate it and it not come back online as the batteries have flattened in the meantime. 

RF Sensitive Areas

Even if the SIM is disabled, if batteries are installed the device will still be transmitting via its Modem. So disabling a SIM doesn't mean a device can be safely used in areas where RF signals are restricted i.e. airports, explosives etc. 

Summary - Settings to Apply

For best results:

  1. Leave the SIM card active
  2. Set the device to periodic tracking, max out the heartbeat
  3. Set the connector to "None"

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