Time’s up for debate: making the most of ELD

CarrierWeb benefits

CarrierWeb ® is pleased to announce that all required updates for the CarrierMate™ to meet the latest ELD specifications will be executed via software changes performed over-the-air that will not require touching the truck.

Carriers and owner operators have begun a two-year countdown for complying with a final rule that mandates use of electronic logging devices to keep records of duty status. The long-awaited final rule was published in the Federal Register on December 16, 2015 with a two-year grace period to be compliant by December 16, 2017.

With so much attention being given to the use of ELDs for compliance purposes, it is easy to lose sight of the financial paybacks.

The paybacks have been known for a long time. The current and outgoing rule for logging devices, FMCSA 395.15, originated in the mid-1980s. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration decided to grant a waiver to carriers (mostly private fleets) that were already using electronic recorders to be more efficient than fleets that were using paper logbooks.

The 395.15 rule came long before drivers carried smartphones and onboard computers connected fleets and drivers to a virtually unlimited supply of mobile applications. Today, ELDs are one of many applications that can be quickly and cost efficiently deployed on a variety of devices.

The cost of ELD applications are now incremental since the mobile platforms they run on can serve many other purposes for fleets and drivers alike. Even so, if analyzing ELD applications as a stand-alone investment, they offer drivers, owner operators and fleets three major paybacks:

  1. Operational efficiency. Carriers that have delayed, or will continue to delay implementing ELDs, will carry the added burden of auditing and maintaining paper receipts and electronic records to support the accuracy of their driver logbooks. With ELDs, management can focus solely on the exceptions that occur. Furthermore, management and drivers share visibility of duty status information to streamline communications and planning activities.
  1. Productivity. This benefit may seem debatable since the one thing paper logs seem to have going for them is flexibility. Drivers have traditionally been able to use the flexibility to make up for inefficiencies in the supply chain, such as being detained at shippers’ docks or finding a place to park. Is this perceived benefit worth the added risks and inefficiencies of using paper records? What many fleets and drivers have found by using ELDs is that they are actually more productive. The technology holds everyone accountable not only for compliance but for how they manage time, and helps to identify areas of improvement.
  1. Competitive advantages. It may seem counterintuitive to suggest that companies using ELDs have an advantage. Soon, the entire trucking industry will soon be using the same technology and following the same rules. During the past few years, a number of fleets have been using electronic hours-of-service information to improve their bottom line performance. They are able to identify drivers with time remaining on their clocks to make an extra pickup or delivery, for example, or to schedule vehicles in for maintenance during drivers’ off-duty periods.

ELDs are inevitable, but smart transportation companies have already started using the technology to gain an advantage. The advantages will become sharper and clearer as companies continue to refine their processes for using real-time data to make the most precious resource, time.