The ELD (electronic logging device) mandate sparked an incredible year of transition for the trucking and logistics industry, as trucking companies of all sizes scrambled to make sure they were ELD compliant following the December 16, 2017 deadline. On that date, all drivers were required to upgrade to an ELD solution by the FMCSA, who provided a list of vetted, preferred ELD providers as a helpful guide. Simple enough, right? Not exactly. Some providers shut down in the middle of the year, leaving the market and abandoning their customers. Other providers sold (and are still selling) ELDs with AOBRD (Automatic On-Board Recording) technology, despite the fact that it will be obsolete and non-compliant in December 2019. So yes– there’s a lot of confusion out there. This guide will help you plan your way to ELD success.
All fleets must have ELD fully deployed by December 16, 2019. Maybe you have never used an ELD, have only used a software app without hardware, or maybe your current provider does not meet your needs for service and support. Either way, the following steps provide simple guidance put together by experienced managers who have worked with thousands of fleets to implement ELD successfully.
STEP 1: TALK WITH YOUR TEAM
There is a great deal of confusion around ELDs and how they are used. Many drivers and fleet managers are simply uneducated on what ELDs are or how they differ from paper logs and AOBRD devices. The biggest difference is the ELD records all locations, engine power events, vehicle motion, miles driven and engine hours with events at least every 60 minutes while the vehicle is in motion. The device puts you into driving status automatically once the vehicle exceeds 5 MPH, assigns the information to a logged-in driver, and transfers this record to a server where the data is stored. All motion in excess of 5 MPH must be assigned to the driver behind the wheel or, in the case where the truck was moved by another person, assigned to an unidentified driver.
With paper logs or an AOBRD, the driver can manually edit the driving time and the miles traveled and engine hours don’t have to be reconciled to a specific driver. The new FMCSA ELD regulations do NOT allow any editing of recorded driving. These small differences are not well understood in the trucking industry. Talking with your drivers and helping them understand the differences is critical to a smooth and successful transition to ELD technology. If the drivers are not “on-board” with the need to learn and use the ELD, your fleet will struggle to be compliant and will miss the massive benefits that real-time data can provide. Safety and the company’s reputation are critical factors to achieve driver stability and company success and overall ELD success.
STEP 2: DETERMINE THE FLEET INFORMATION YOU NEED
There is a host of data available from ELD providers and fleet management companies. Some of this information is critical to efficiently running your fleet, but some may be irrelevant for your operation. The key is to understand exactly what information points are important for you to operate a productive fleet.
- LOG AUDITING
- GPS TRACKING
- MAPS & DIRECTIONS
- DISPATCHING TO MOBILE
- MOBILE DOCUMENT CAPTURE
- FLEET REPORTING IFTA TAX REPORTING
Once you know exactly what you need, make a list and ask for the ELD provider to do a Live Demo of their product. Chances are, you’ll quickly see how easy it is to use the product and better understand how your team can quickly implement the new device. Understanding the needs of your business, and how the data can improve your operations will help you see a fast return on your investment (ROI).
STEP 3: DECIDE WHAT TYPE OF DEVICE IS BEST FOR YOUR BUSINESS
It is important to note that hardware and communication methods have changed dramatically over the last few years. AOBRD technology is outdated and will be eliminated by 12/16/2019 from all fleets. The laws have changed and the market has spoken. Bulky, high maintenance display devices are out like flip phones. The new generation of ELD devices are smaller, more powerful and run on common operating platforms, creating flexibility to manage a large fleet without significant downtime.
There are two basic types of ELD’s – proprietary hardware that is directly connected (hard-wired) into the ECM (Engine Control Module) of the truck, and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) hardware that wirelessly communicates via Bluetooth with a smartphone or tablet. The market shows that the bulk of new sales belong to the BYOD style devices. Owner-operators and fleet managers understand the value of using an affordable, mobile platform (iOS or Android) that is continually being improved and upgraded vs. the proprietary, expensive hardware of old school providers. Simply put, most consumers understand the value of using a platform that spends millions per year in R&D, driving better technology at a lower cost.
Many fleets like the flexibility of the driver using their personal phone or tablet, while others provide the tablet that remains in the truck, regardless of who is driving.
STEP 4: FIND A COMPANY THAT WILL HELP YOUR DRIVERS
Implementing an ELD solution is not rocket science but it does require…
- USER INPUT
- WILLINGNESS TO LEARN
- WORLD-CLASS CUSTOMER SUPPORT
Many drivers have anxiety about ELDs – primarily because they are not comfortable with new technology. They may not understand that it is relatively simple and just takes some time to master. Most users become confident in 2-4 weeks. This is why it is important to discuss with your driver base and secure buy-in from the start. Once your drivers are committed, it is very important to find a company that provides outstanding customer service. This is where the real ELD provider will shine. Find a company with a strong support staff that answers the phone, understands the mandate, listens well and is willing to coach your drivers.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR POTENTIAL PROVIDER:
- What hours does the company work to support your dispatch and drivers?
- Is the company knowledgeable on FMCSA HOS rules and regulations?
- What is the company’s call back policy?
- Does the company have a positive track record of achieving compliance?
- Do they have a positive track record of passing audits?
- Can they provide references to show products and support success?
STEP 5: CREATE A PLAN TO WIN AND CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESS
Once you determine the ELD/Fleet Management provider best suited for your business, set a kick-off meeting with your team. Share your research of different firms and be transparent about why ELDs are necessary to compete and how they can strengthen the company. Advise the benefits to them in safety and company goals. Make a visual aid that shares key milestones to implementation (Installation date, learning period and how information/metrics will be shared, etc.) It may sound corny, but people want to understand more about the business and how their job can help make the business successful. Employees want to know what they can do to support and grow the business. Finally, plan an event to celebrate the learning, their support with execution and the increasing value to the business. Whether your fleet is small or large, we all appreciate being part of a goal that is achieved together. Follow these 5 steps and your fleet will be on the way to ELD success!