VDO Tachograph

VDO is a name synonymous with digital tachographs, which can make it a little confusing to establish what it is exactly. Indeed, VDO is often taken to mean a type of tachograph rather than the manufacturer, as it actually is.

Tachographs aren’t the first products to be affected by this phenomenon. Hoover, Kleenex and Velcro are all brand names that are often used generically. This post will unblur the line between technology and the brand, as well as take a look at VDO smart tachograph features.

What Does VDO Mean on a Tachograph?

As touched on above, VDO is actually a brand name, not a model or type of product. When a “VDO digital tachograph” is referred to, it means a digital tachograph that has been manufactured by VDO. So who is VDO?

VDO is the German brand of Continental Automotive, an automotive electronics company. VDO has had something of an active history, having been initially founded by Adolf Schindling in 1929 — it was subsequently acquired by Mannesmann in 1991. Mannesmann sold the brand to Vodafone in 1999, who then promptly sold it to Siemens the following year. Finally, in 2007, it was acquired by Continental Automotive and has become something of a “household name” in the world of tachograph devices.

What Does a Digital Tachograph Do?

Tachographs are a way for drivers and organisations to keep track of their fleet and drivers’ hours, ensuring they don’t put themselves or others in danger by failing to take proper rest breaks or time off from being behind the wheel. And, of course, it helps to keep drivers and companies out of legal trouble, as driver hours are strictly enforced by law.

Digital tachographs — like the ones produced by VDO — take the accuracy and convenience factor up a level. They consist of a central unit that is located in the driver’s cab. This unit gets a feed directly from the transmission of the vehicle, which is used for logging true and accurate data on how far the vehicle has travelled, regardless of whether any of the vehicle’s standard sensors or instruments are faulty.

The machine also consists of card slots and a small printer. When a driver is about to start work, they put their personal driver card into the machine and all subsequent data is logged in that driver’s name. The driver can then get a printout of their hours for their and their employer’s records.

The precise features of a tachograph can vary from model to model, but all allow the use of several types of cards. Driver cards have already been mentioned, but there are also company cards, allowing the organisation that owns the vehicle to lock certain information, as well as control cards, which give law enforcement and government agencies access to data in the machine. There are also workshop cards, which enable authorised tachograph technicians to fit and calibrate the machines.

VDO Tachograph: How to Use?

Using a digital tachograph is typically as simple as slotting in a driver card and setting the mode. For a detailed look at how to use these machines, try this post.

VDO DTCO 4.0 Smart Tachograph

Despite the somewhat unchanging nature of tachograph reading, VDO is keen to be at the forefront of this technology — as evidenced by their newest digital tachograph machines.

The DTCO 4.0 Smart Tachograph is an example of that ambition, incorporating a number of features beyond the tachograph itself. These include automatic position determination through GNSS, shorter input times, as well as a larger display capable of displaying working times and warnings.

Conclusion

VDO tachographs may be one of the more common digital tachograph brands — certainly in Europe — but there are other brands. It’s worth noting that any digital tachograph should meet the necessary regulations for use in Europe.