Behind the Technology: Vontas Onsite for Yard Management

Erik Edaburn always knew he was interested in technology. Whether it was tearing apart an old VCR to see how it worked or repairing a video game controller—he always had an eye for electronics.

Fresh out of Kirkwood Community College, Erik started with Vontas as a Test Technician intern and was hired soon after in a full-time role and spent the next seven years troubleshooting and repairing Vontas OnRoute hardware. “After that I spent three years as a Field Service Technician,” said Erik. “I would troubleshoot and repair on-vehicle systems and oversee installation projects at customer sites. From there I went on to support Vontas OnRoute applications with our Customer Care – ITS team where I would work with Customers to provide technical support, training, and issue resolution.” From Customer Care, he moved into a role with the System Integration Test team as a Team Leader for the Vontas OnSite Yard Management system.

Vontas OnSite is a web-based application that gives you real-time situational awareness of all vehicles. For companies dealing with buses, OnSite lets them know the status and location of their vehicles. OnSite makes managing buses in a busy dept easier, more efficient, and safer for everyone. Erik has been a leading voice behind developing OnSite. “The original idea was to use RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology,” said Erik. This places assets in a lane relative to a reference point at the front of the lane. “The theory was sound, but there were too many variables in a real-world environment that affected how RFID could be detected accurately vehicle to vehicle.” However, once they started working with Ultra-Wideband (UWB) technology, they were able to track assets in real-time and “see them move throughout the yard and garage until they get to their final parking place.”

Production was not without its roadblocks. “We ran into plenty of issues and bugs while testing the software from its infancy,” said Erik. “Between the test team and the development team, we always worked together to get it resolved. Vontas OnSite solves customer’s problems by eliminating “the need for someone to walk the yard and manually write down assets and positions that may be obsolete by the time they get back to their desk”. Having fewer people walking the yard makes managing a bus fleet safer and easier.

Technology is known for moving at such a fast rate. It can be difficult for even tech-savvy people to keep up. Edaburn sees OnSite getting “smaller, faster, and more accurate with less infrastructure needed installed.” He added, “I see GPS becoming more accurate so there could be a hybrid model for GPS asset tracking outdoors and UWB tracking for indoors, all seamlessly working together to form one yard management solution that also directly integrates with the Vontas OnTransit solution.”

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