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Aquarius raises alert on serious tachograph glitch when remote downloading

Aquarius IT are warning UK transport operators about a serious technical glitch that has been uncovered when remote downloading from some GEN2 tachographs.

Guy Reynolds, Aquarius IT’s Director explains that the issue seems to occur when the tachograph tries to authenticate remotely with an expired company card that has been left in a card reader at a company/customer site or a hosting rack of a remote download service provider.  If the system then tries to initiate a download using the expired company card, it results in the tachograph becoming incapable of remote downloading with a valid company card thereafter; with no obvious way to reset it, leaving operators only able to manually download data from the front panel.

At thisstage, it appears to only affect certain GEN2 tachographs dating from June 2019 onwards, which is why the problem has surfaced more and more, as the first company cards to be used in a GEN2 tachograph are now expiring.

So, what is happening? “Our experience and testing have shown that if the company card is left in the rack after its expiry date with or without a new GEN2 card, and the tachograph tries to authenticate it, the system will fail and it will become incapable of remote downloading – even if you try to use a new valid company card thereafter,” says Guy.

The same situation also applies in the following, more common-place, case scenario:

  1. A GEN1 card is in the hosting rack and is due to expire on 31st July for example.  To ensure continuity a GEN2 card dated from 1st August is placed in the rack alongside the GEN1 card, on and around the 31st July.  This is a standard remote downloading practice to ensure no scheduled downloads are missed.
  2. On 1st August, the tachograph authenticates with the GEN2 card – all is good.
  3. On 2nd August, the tachograph then defaults to try and automatically authenticate with the now out of date GEN1 card. Instead of rejecting the card, it locks up and refuses to remote download ever again.

The result for operators is:

  • the tachograph is now rendered permanently unusable for remote downloading
    • there is potential for missed hours
    • they will have to revert back to manually downloading the vehicles and manage the logistically challenging and costly process this will create.

Guy says, there are many unanswered questions as to why and how this is happening and it is very early days for operators to know if it will affect them; but we will be working with customers to find out if the problem is fixable with a firmware update, or if it means a complete replacement of the VU is needed. 

The purpose behind Aquarius’ warning is to help operators understand this is not an analysis software issue, and for them to know how to ‘work around’ the problem until a fix is found.

In the meantime, Guy advises that although there might be minor continuity issues, the safest way forward is to remove the old company card the day before the last day of the month, i.e., if the last day is the 31st, remove it at some point on the 30th, and replace it with new company card, which will start working from the 1st of the month.

Guy confirms that there may be a few vehicles that may not download on the last day of the month, but they will catchup in the coming days; and it’s a small price to pay until the root of the problem, and a solution is found. 

He also adds that this problem appears to be specific to the UK, but that’s not to say it isn’t happening in other countries.

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