In Europe you are legally obliged to read digital tachograph data within a specified period. The driver card should be read once every 28 days, and the internal/mass memory should be read once every 90 days (the exception to this is Ireland where the driver card should be read every 21 days). You must download the data and archive it for 12 months in accordance with the retention obligation. There are various ways to read a tachograph, including by using a download key.
What is a Download Key?
A download key is a device with which you can manually read the data, the so-called .ddd files, from a digital tachograph (download). It is therefore necessary to go to the vehicle to read the data. Reading the driver card is often also possible with the same download key, but in some cases a separate card reader is used for this. The download key has a special output to connect it to the tachograph.
The download key essentially copies the data from the internal (mass) memory of the tachograph as well as the data from the driver cards that are found on the tachograph. From the key, the data can be stored via USB directly on a computer or on an integrated SD card. Each tachograph manufacturer has its own download key solution. We will deal with three of them below.
Always check whether the download key can also read the data from the smart tachograph.
Please note: with a Download Key you do not automatically meet the legal requirements! In addition to reading and archiving your tachograph data, you also have to check all data for completeness and violations. A Download Key does not do this! You still have to analyse all data yourself.
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Alternative to the Download Key
The alternative to the download key is the Remote Tacho Download (RTD). This makes it possible to read the tachograph and driver files automatically and remotely. The download key is then unnecessary. The price for the RTD depends on the number of vehicles, request a quote.
Also note that if you wait too long to read the data, you will not only risk a fine of £2500 per violation per tachograph, but there is also a risk that old data will be overwritten by new data in the event that the storage limit of the internal memory has been reached.
Avoid fines with an automatic tacho download
The fines are rather high and abuse is strictly monitored. So it is very important to take the digital tachograph and driver card seriously. Since FleetGO takes care of reading both the mass memory and the driver card, you no longer have to worry about this. The two-year retention obligation is also fully covered by FleetGO.
Types of Download Keys
There are two types of commercial Download Keys: a. The manufacturer-specific type – each manufacturer has its own download key – and the manufacturer-independent type. You copy the .ddd files onto the key, so that they are then stored in a safe place, available for analysis and/or monitoring.
All keys work like a USB stick. You connect the key to the tachograph via a standard serial 6-PIN interface, and you can further process the data via a USB output. We will deal with several types of download keys here.
1: DAKO-key for reading digital tachographs
A DAKO-key is one of the most used download keys for digital tachographs in Germany. It is primarily designed to read driver card data in the car and can then be transferred to a computer media through a reading station or in the office. A DAKO-key is easy to use and is one of the cheapest download keys available.
|about 110 x 40 x 20 mm
|about 40 gram
|USB / Serial
2: VDO DLK Download Key (2GB)
The DLK Pro Download Key from VDO is designed so that carriers, workshops and authorities can download the data from driver cards and tachographs manually. An integrated chip card reader makes it possible to download the driver card directly. The chip card reader is activated with a licence card before first use. Alternatively, the driver card can be downloaded via the 6-PIN interface. The key has a high-speed USB connection and an integrated SD card with 2GB of storage.
|125 x 50 x 28 mm
|USB / Serial
3: GloboFleet Downloadkey II
With the 8GB GloboFleet Downloadkey II, digital tachographs and driver cards can be read and up to 32,000 downloads can be saved thanks to its 8GB memory. Highly visible status indicators provide an overview of the current download status.
|118 x 35 x 20 mm
|around 36 g
|USB / Serial
4: DigiVu Download Key
The DigiVu download device is powered by the tachograph. The DigiVu also available as a set with the DigiVu+ card reader. In this card reader there are 4 AAA batteries to power the DigiVu outside the tachograph. As soon as you connect the DigiVu to the DigiVu +, it is able to read driver cards.
|120 x 35 x 20 mm
|around 30 g
|USB / Serial
|£135 (extension + £215)
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