By: Joseph E. Evangelist, EVP Transervice Logistics, Inc.
Most sectors of US industry are undergoing technology transformations, and transportation is no exception. This continual and rapid evolution has driven safety and federal legislation in an effort to keep up with, and mutually benefit from, advances in technology. Technology innovation has virtually eliminated the bygone days when drivers had to communicate by CB’s or stop on the road to make a telephone call to their dispatcher or family. Since drivers are often on the road for long days or often two to three weeks at a time, fleet managers had practically no understanding of the status of the driver’s day-to-day.
The impetus for electronic logging regulation has been initiated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Its goal is, and always has been, the safety of the people in the industry as well as those that come into contact with them – the general public that shares the same roads as our commercial vehicles.
Hours of Service (HOS) regulations were developed in 1937 with formally regulated paper logging established in the early 1960s. Since then, significant revisions to the regulations were not considered until the 2000s as legislation began to intersect with the requirements and demands of the modern supply chain. Legislation today struggles in its effort to match the pace of technology resulting in multiple Federal device definitions and standards from AOBRD (Automatic On-Board Recording Device), EOBR (Electronic On-Board Recorder) and ELD (Electronic Logging Device).
Research has shown that driver fatigue is a significant contributor to accidents involving commercial vehicles. By law, drivers are limited to 11 hours of driving daily, and due to the increasing pressures of both shippers and customers this requirement is being tested and pushed to the limits every day. Often times in an effort to appease their employers to boost their earnings, drivers have circumvented the old fashioned paper logs. However, larger fleets and trucking companies have historically been watchful of the hours their drivers are behind the wheel and have regularly audited driver logs.
The era of manual driver logs is history as both technology and legislation advance us into the next decade and beyond. Today, the best run private fleets (defined as the company operated fleets-whether owned or leased), dedicated fleets and common carriers recognize that utilizing technology is the most logical path toward helping them improve customer service, safety and reducing operating cost. Technology by benchmarking goals in an unbiased manner makes it easy to measure performance and strive for improvement. Technology also allows for fleet managers and logistics providers to plan and route more effectively.
ELD capability, when combined with the element of telematics, enables significant integration opportunities for the shipper as well as for the fleet management company. The ELD devices sync with a vehicle’s engine diagnostic port, capturing movement and recording the distance and time a driver is at the wheel. Since basic ELD technology captures this data automatically, it should be essential to a company’s overall IT strategy.
The purpose of this article is to provide background information about this important mandate, known as “The ELD Rule” and to also provide insight as to how Transervice is complying with this federal mandate.
Enforcement for the electronic logging device Mandate will begin on the December 18, 2017 as scheduled. The effort in the US Congress to delay enforcement by one year has failed.
Also, the 10-hour-out-of service order associated with non-compliance with the Mandate will begin April 1, 2018 according to the CVSA. FMCSA also confirmed that the delay in out-of-service enforcement does not affect the date by which truckers must adopt an automatic onboard recording device (AOBRD — a form of electronic logging system with more limited functionality than an ELD) if they want to extend their ELD compliance to December 2019.
“After Dec. 18, 2017, if you don’t have an AOBRD or ELD the violation will be cited, and a driver could be fined, but they won’t be put out of service. Companies that continually violate the rule could be subject to federal investigation as well,” stated FMCSA spokesperson Duane DeBruyne.
It is estimated that as many as 85% of all medium and large sized fleets have already met or in the process of complying with the ELD mandate. It is also estimated that as few as 35% of small trucking companies and owner operators have begun the process to conform. Smaller fleets have been slow to comply generally due to investment cost, plus the concern over how compliance will affect their current Hours of Service and hope that the mandate deadline will be extended.
There are currently over 90 ELD devices in the marketplace to choose from. Transervice has spent considerable time and investment in evaluating multiple partner solutions. There are a wide array of systems, with varying price points and equipment/software capabilities, ranging from a basic entry level ELD only system with an investment of a few hundred dollars per vehicle or driver to significantly higher investment enterprise systems with monthly service fees dependent on the technology and level of integration. ELD’s come in differing formats, sizes and configurations such as handhelds (including smart phones and tablets), hard wired mounted in-cab solutions and hybrids (handheld with mounted cab base).
Transervice Logistics Adoption of ELD
Transervice has been an early adopter of on-board computer systems and electronic logging technology. Along with our client partners, Transervice currently has an install base of over 1,100 units systems already deployed throughout our network and growing. We utilize multiple provider on-board computer (OBC) platforms including PeopleNet, Rand McNally and other systems which meet the specific requirements of our clients. Beyond the capability of meeting or exceeding the mandated ELD standard, the systems we utilize also offer a broad range of capability including resource visibility, communications, vehicle telemetry, extensive reporting and numerous application integrations. These systems also integrate directly into both our transportation management system (TMS) and asset management system (AMS), which in turn stream critical data points to our Business Intelligence Team for fleet visibility, analysis and continuous improvement initiatives.
Extensive OBC/ELD training for managers, dispatchers, drivers and technicians is critical to successfully deploy and utilize any system effectively. An essential goal for a successful technology deployment is buy-in from the end user, and this begins with a well-established training program. It is vital to ensure that employees feel that they are part of this solution, that they have a good learning experience, understand what types of data will be monitored and how they will benefit overall. Once it is demonstrated to drivers that evolving from a paper log to an electronic log is a transparent process that they are already well accustomed to, simply using a different tool, the acceptance rate is generally very high. Transervice provides extensive training for its employees to accomplish these goals.
At Transervice, our experience with ELD technology goes well beyond mandatory ELD compliance. The platforms, devices and systems we utilize allow us to effectively manage our business, which in turn directly benefits our clients and their end customers by meeting mutual goals. These goals include the following:
- Increasing resource productivity
- Driver retention
- Consistent on-time delivery and route performance
- Improvements in customer service and product visibility
- Safe operations, resulting in a positive public image
One of the biggest costs in transportation today is fuel; on average it comprises up to 38% of total operational expenses. Even though fuel prices are lower than historical highs, make no mistake about it – fuel expense still has a significant impact on the bottom line. ELD systems, combined with engine diagnostic computer systems, help fleets measure MPG to obtain a wider picture of both driver and vehicle performance. Further, we know that a fully deployed and capable OBC system provides much-improved administration benefits for both drivers and fleet managers.
Driver Coaching Is More Important Now
Most fleets are committed to coaching drivers. It is a skill that is a “must have” for driver managers, fleet managers and safety staff members. However, whether the subject of coaching is about drivers being efficient within the hours a driver has available, saving fuel or performing on-time customer service at the delivery point, the best practice is to share the metrics with your drivers. The best ELD providers offer applications for driver management along with comparisons that compare top and bottom drivers, enabling fleets to reward the top drivers and coach the bottom performers.
Workload Decrease for Drivers and Fleet Managers
Professional truck drivers don’t choose their career based on their love to fill out paperwork. No question that some paperwork may still be required, but this can be minimized through the use of an ELD or even more so with a full OBC platform. It is estimated that drivers spend between 20 to 30 minutes each day on logs plus Driver-Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIR’s) and sending these documents to their employers. By using electronic logs instead of paper logs, drivers and fleets can save that time and use it more productively. Another benefit for both driver and employer is that ELDs will be substantially more accurate and reduce the employer’s risk of a fine for non-compliance. For the employer, ELDs will enable central data management, virtually eliminate paperwork and discontinue frequent use of antiquated copiers and fax machines.
ELD and the Need for Visibility throughout a Company’s Supply Chain
The ELD mandate has been a moving force to fleets that up to now operated without telematics. The Food Safety and Modernization Act is another federal mandate likely to push the adoption of enhanced future telematics and module mandates. Food distributors will expand reliance on carrier systems connected to their systems to enable complete cold chain monitoring thereby ensuring the safety of products throughout their distribution channel. Thus, the future of telematics is strong.
Here is a Summary of Overall Telematics Benefits:
OBC combined capabilities continue to widen visibility and knowledge. Taking what we “think we know” to “what we know.”
Telematics provides the ability to gain detailed vehicle insight into usage, location and overall health.
Telematics allows fleet managers to track their drivers’ performance and available hours of service to identify opportunities to optimize routes, improve driver behavior, reduce fuel consumption, minimize vehicle downtime and ensure compliance.
The use of peripheral telematics solutions such as tire pressure monitors, integrated camera systems or third-party solutions such as fleet dispatch applications also can help improve the safety and efficiency of a vehicle.
Telematics can be integrated with various Warehouse Management System (WMS), Transportation Management Systems (TMS) and asset management systems.
Dispatchers, fleet managers and customers will know the time of day that goods are going to reach the destination and how that measures compared to expectations.
Better Analytics – ELDs provide fleets with exceptional and consistent data that will help with both driver and customer retention. Information gained will allow users to know where the fleet is performing well and where improvement is needed. Improved driving results with increased driver job satisfaction equates to better service to customers.
Don’t Wait Any Longer for ELD Implementation – the Benefits Are Numerous
It’s not worth waiting until the compliance deadline to implement an ELD solution. Many fleets may be hesitant and waiting for the ELD mandate deadline before implementing electronic logging devices.
By waiting, fleets miss out on immediate benefits and are at risk of limited hardware availability. We recommend making a commitment now and implement ELD technology before the December 18, 2017 deadline:
- Start immediately building ROI: slash fuel costs, drastically reduce paperwork, increase driver communication and charge for detention time.
- Simplify DOT logs for commercial drivers allowing them to focus on driving, not paperwork.
- Eliminate common logging violations. Virtually all “form and manner” log violations go away-drivers always know where they stand on compliance- and drivers always have a current log. Alerts will tell the driver when they are approaching an hours-of-service limit, mandatory break or reset.
- Electronic logs make auditing easier and faster. Systems typically come with automated auditing built in.
- Roadside inspections can be easier and quicker.
- Scheduling and dispatch become easier because office personnel now know the location of the vehicles and how much time drivers have available.
- Location, engine use, speed and other data can prove valuable during litigation or other legal proceedings, potentially protecting both the driver and company.
- Some ELD units include the ability to “instant message” a driver or “group chat” between drivers and fleet managers/dispatchers, which greatly shorten critical communication timelines.