Digital tachograph analysis and software firms are still scratching their heads about how to resolve a serious glitch that has been identified when remote downloading from some second generation units.
After Aquarius sounded alarm bells at the start of the month about the problem that occurs when an expired company card is left in the hosting rack of a remote download service provider, other firms have told Motor Transport they are also aware of the issue.
The glitch, which appears to render a tachograph permanently unusable for remote downloading, has even prompted the DVSA to look into how widespread the problem has become.
However, everyone we contacted is currently unsure how many operators, or HGVs, are affected.
Guy Reynolds, Aquarius IT director, said: “It is very early days for operators to know if it will affect them, because it appears to only affect certain GEN2 tachographs dating from June 2019 onwards; it is therefore difficult, at this stage, to identify how widespread the problem could be.
“There are many unanswered questions as to why and how this is happening.”
For now, Aquarius has advised that the safest way forward for operators is to remove the old company card the day before the last day of the month and replace it with a new company card, which will start working from the first of the following month.
Tacho analysis software firm TDI said it was aware of the problem, but it had not come across any directly affected units so far as it manages company cards itself: “We have mitigated the issue somewhat by ensuring the expired cards are removed,” said TDI technical director Gareth Braid.
“We have had to put additional processes in to ensure expired cards are removed prior to their expiry rather than the historic process whereby you would remove a card when a replacement was received.”
Business group Logistics UK said it was not aware of any of its members reporting problems and tacho analysis firm FleetGo said it was also unaware of the issue.
However, a DVSA spokeswoman said: “DVSA’s priority is protecting everyone from unsafe drivers and vehicles.
“We are aware of some issues with remote tachograph downloading and are currently investigating.”
Mike Lisle, MD of Lisle Design, which manufactures download tools for digital tachographs, said he believed the fault lay in the download equipment.
He said it was unaware of how many operators and vehicles the problem affected, but he added that Lisle Design believed the glitch is in “about half a dozen firmware”.
He said: “We know that other people have noticed exactly the same problem.
“The issue is noticeable when you have a reasonably sized fleet, because they tend to get trucks in batches and the tacho is the same in each batch.
“Once the tacho is in a faulty state we are not aware of any way of getting it back into working order.
“We have done some work to avoid the problem,” Lisle added.
“We think we know what’s going wrong and we have adjusted our systems to avoid that situation.
“The problem’s not getting significantly worse with people using our kit and others we are talking to regularly.”
Lisle added that a permanent solution to the problem could be delayed by ongoing wider problems affecting the supply chain: “We are in an unusual situation in the sense that the easy answer is to replace the tacho with a more up-to-date unit,” he said.
“But there’s a global semiconductor shortage and the tacho manufacturers are caught up in that as well.”