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Keytroller Simplifies Its Keyless Ignition Switch

The company now offers a lower-cost version of its RFID-enabled ignition controllers for forklifts and other industrial vehicles.
By Claire Swedberg
Dec 18, 2006Companies have been using radio frequency identification for several years, to control access to forklifts and other vehicles. This eliminates the need for ignition keys, while offering a way to track vehicle usage. Keytroller has now released a lower-cost, scaled-down version of its keyless ignition system. Priced at $400, the Keyless Ignition Simple System (KISS) is one-third the cost of the company's highest-end RFID-enabled ignition-control devices.

Keytroller's higher-priced solutions, which range between $800 and $1,200, enable an equipment operator to start vehicles by tapping an ID card near an RFID interrogator located in the vehicle. The reader is tied to keypads with LCD screens. Using the keypads, the operator can punch in details about the vehicle or view text messages from the company office via a Wi-Fi connection.

Terry Wickman
The latest solution lacks some of the more advanced features, such as the ability for operators to register, get access to vehicle performance records or receive messages. "This system is perfect for someone who just wants to get rid of the keys," says Keytroller's president, Terry Wickman. "It simplifies the installation and eliminates the keypad."

KISS incorporates an RFID reader module, about the size of a half-pack of gum, installed under the dashboard of such vehicles as lift trucks, cranes or pickups. The system also includes a printed circuit board module and a relay module, wired either to the vehicle ignition switch or to an antitheft wireless relay connected to the vehicle's ignition or fuel pump circuit. The system can also include a clock and send, via a wireless 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi or 900 MHz connection, vehicle usage event logging data to the company's database.

The KISS system works with either 125 kHz HID proximity cards or 13.56 MHz RFID cards that meet the ISO 15693 or 14443B standard. Alternatively, customers can attach Keytroller adhesive RFID tags to non-RFID identity cards. The reader captures the unique ID number of the card associated with that driver. An illuminated light on the reader turns green if the driver is authorized to start the vehicle—once management programs that ID number into the system—or red, indicating the driver is denied access. Customers, or the dealership, must drill a hole in the dashboard for placement of the illuminated light.

Additionally, with a more complex Keytroller keypad solution, operators and company management can track the vehicle's condition and the manner in which it is being operated. Built-in shock-abuse, speed and oil-pressure sensors, for example, can provide data on each condition associated with the sensor via the LCD screen for the operator, or wirelessly send that data to the company office. The system can also be programmed to shut down automatically after speeding, shock or maintenance-related events. The system can be programmed for vehicle shutdown or other features via a PC or the keypad.

With any of the Keytroller systems, users can download data from the system, either with a laptop plugged into the serial port, or with a Cyberkey (a memory stick that holds up to 16,000 events that can later be plugged into a Keytroller box, which itself gets connected to an office computer's serial port). Data also can be downloaded via a Wi-Fi or 900 MHz RF connection. Keysoft software allows data to be integrated with the office management system.
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