<< Home

The Power of PTO Connections in Telematics

PTO connections in telematics
Author: Owen D’Acres, Customer Support

Fleet managers and business owners need to choose a telematics provider whose technology allows for integration with other products and devices. The PTO is a primary example of a device that can be integrated within Geotab’s technology that adds value to the overall telematics system.

What is PTO?
PTO, or Power Take Off, can refer to the activity of any motorized device that is connected to a vehicle. You can think of the PTO as your portable power generator, so that in the event you lose power, you would still be able to run all of your appliances and equipment around the home. Similarly, most companies rely on the PTO to generate power to a specific piece of equipment, without solely relying on the use of the engine itself.

Examples of PTO Use
Some typical applications of PTO use though not limited are: Running a truck mounted hot water extraction machine used for carpet cleaning. Raising a dump truck bed. Operating the compactor on a garbage truck. One of the ways in which companies are utilizing PTO with the GO device is in the use of document destruction and shredding. Companies have mobile trucks with a built on shredder on board, they collect important documents and are able to securely destroy them using the shredder.

The Geotab GO device has the capacity to gather data from the vehicle’s ECM, also known as the engine control module, and provide information regarding the status of the PTO unit. Generally speaking, you do not want to have the vehicle moving while the PTO is engaged. This is one instance where you should monitor the status of the vehicle during operation. If a driver were to have the vehicle moving with the PTO in operation, it could cause severe stress and ultimately damage the motor, leading to expensive repair or replacement.

Another important aspect to consider is the green effect in today’s society that has brought attention to the issue of idling in the operation and management of large fleets. The Geotab GO devices have the ability to set up specific rules to determine the length of time a vehicle has been idling. When a rule is broken an “exception” is generated, which can then point management to a particular trend or excessive behavior that is non-compliant. In the case of the PTO, the device can assist in looking even deeper into the problem and is able to determine the difference between excessive idling and idling due to PTO use.

Connecting the PTO
The PTO module usually has direct connection to the vehicle’s ECM. The PTO is sometimes referred to as a “6 Pack” due to the number of external pins it has. The GO device would typically be connected using a harness to the vehicle’s diagnostic port that would use either a 6 pin or 9 pin connection, depending on the make and model of the vehicle. Therefore, a harness such as an HRN-EZT would be required to connect to the ECM and the GO device would then be connected to the HRN-EZT. It is recommended that one uses a T-harness for connections since this will leave an extra port available for use by a mechanic.

What To Remember When Using The PTO
In order for the GO device to pick up the signal from the ECM, the vehicle with the PTO module installed would need to be returned to the dealership to have the ECM reset and be able to read the PTO module. Only once that has been completed will the GO device be able to pull the data directly from the diagnostic port. Finally, most trucks that were made in 1996 or later will have built-in ability for the ECM to read PTO automatically and therefore there is no need for an auxiliary input.

To learn more about PTO connections and the other opportunities for external integration with Geotab’s telematics GO devices, post your questions in the comment box below:


  • Posted March 21, 2018 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    We use 3rd party vendor Drivers Alert. We are having questions regarding data for PTO engaged, for example for a bucket truck. We believe that PTO engaged should be computed from the time the PTO engaged switch is turned on to the time the PTO engaged switch is turned off. Our current rule is to compute only when >5minutes, but we are getting low or no readings even for vehicles that we know were in the field where the bucket was in use for more than 5 minutes. Is it our rule or a wiring issue? Please comment. Thanks, Daniel

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      The PTO related data which is reported from the ECU can be quite sporadic and will not provide the desired switch on/off data you are looking for. Try using an IOX-AUXM to tie into the PTO switch itself and then create a rule to capture these on/off events for the aux. For more help on this, please consult your Reseller.
      Geotab Solutions Engineering Team

  • Posted January 24, 2018 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    I posted a question in the forums. manual PTO, not direct connection to the ECM. I was thinking the HRN-EZT would work but can’t find it. How can i connect a manual PTO to the GO8

    • Posted February 6, 2018 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      Thanks for your question. We will follow up with you directly.

  • Posted July 31, 2015 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Hi, I have a Freelander 20003 and a smallholding. I want to know is there such a thing as a pto unit that can be fitted to the vehicle to run my topper etc so I can use my Freelander 4×4 as a tractor?? If not it seems to me this would be a brilliant idea for all stable or smallholding owners. What do you think? Regards, Barbara

    • Posted August 6, 2015 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      Hi Barbara, thank you for your request. You certainly have good insight and there are some possibilities to achieve your goal.
      a PTO is simply any type of motor or mechanical gear that can generate and act as a
      secondary power source. Although we are not in the PTO business, but if we were to provide some direction it
      would be to contact a local mechanic who have expertise in drive shaft & gear customization.
      There are methods and ways that you can customize to get it to operate your topper.

      Thanks you

Leave a Reply

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe Now
Get more Geotab news. You can unsubscribe at any time.