The ELD mandate has been on the horizon for quite some time. The December 18th, 2017 effective date represents a formality more than a huge paradigm shift for long-haul drivers. While it won't be a shift for larger entities that already have ELDs in place, it does affect a very large number of small carriers who do not.
It's a well-timed start date, too; with increasing pressure coming down on 3PL providers for better efficiency and optimized routes, having a means to monitor and course-correct is an excellent step in the right direction.
With ELD in place, the potential for human error is becoming a considerably smaller slice of the operational pie. Unlike paper logs of years past, automatic tracking and logging can't be misplaced, illegible, or forgotten, even on the most demanding routes. It also eliminates driver purposeful falsification of logs to increase their miles per day.
Here, we'll walk through some of the issues 3PLs or fleet managers are encountering as we implement and adjust to a transportation industry with ELDs in the cab.
Dodging Implementation Potholes
With the driver shortage looming over every operational decision, some companies may be skittish to strong-arm their veteran drivers into embracing what essentially amounts to onboard oversight technology.
Drivers who have been trucking for years or even decades might not see the introduction of ELDs as a source for efficiency data. Instead, they might resent the presence of new tech as an "electronic nanny," keeping an eye on things like speed, distance covered, and the amount of time off road.
As you introduce ELD devices, it will be best to place emphasis rightly on the protections and benefits these devices offer. Frame the installation as a way to quickly clear up disputes and to keep companies from taking advantage of drivers. Additionally, be sure to note your hands are tied on the matter––on December 17th, the mandate requires fleets of any size install ELDs in their vehicles to reliably record HoS (or hours of service).
Not All ELDs Will Make the Cut
As with most mandate situations in a service industry, there will undoubtedly be companies that push implementation off as long as possible.
Kenco is thankfully well ahead of the curve, as we've been installing ELDs in our fleets as far back as 2008, tapping into the power of PeopleNet to drive our analytics and safely deliver text-like communication and alerts.
However, not all ELDs offer versatile functionality, and in some cases, they might not even be FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) certified. Lower-tier ELDs use cell phones and similar mobile devices, but do not offer a structure built for road safety.
Through the system Kenco uses, for example, a driver is simply notified there is a message or alert waiting for them at their next stopping point, as opposed to distracting them with the text or information while their eyes are on the road. If your chosen ELD isn't on the approved list, you might as well not have one at all: it won't offer you protection from mandate-breaking consequences.
ELD-Dodgers Could Pay a Lot
A mandate wouldn't be very intimidating without teeth, which is why drivers and companies operating without approved ELDs after December 18th will be ticketed and even fined in repeat situations. These costs would likely be absorbed by the host driving company, but still expect rates to edge up accordingly if you are working with a carrier who is newly implementing ELDs.
Penalties aside, error-prone and work-heavy paper logs will lose their appeal in a world running on mandated ELDs, which offer an accuracy that really appeals to high-level companies. What you "pay" might not be ticket fines, but rather opportunity costs, when you don't outfit your drivers with ELD devices as soon as possible.
Those without ELD stickers or signage clearly on their truck may also find themselves waiting as ELD-bearing peers, complete with decals, are waved through checkpoints and similar stop-and-check scenarios.
This increases expensive idle time for non-ELD -outfitted trucks, which in turn means late deliveries and unhappy customers, who might just take their business elsewhere.
It's a Boon for Many Reasons
ELDs don't just log traditional information like mileage and idle time––they also help speed up the transition between states, which formerly meant a lot of record-keeping hassle in paper log books.
Projections for arrival time mean that operational centers can keep customers and clients apprised of delays or early arrivals in real time, adding to the delivery satisfaction, which creates repeat customers. While implementation might increase the cost passed on to the customer temporarily, it also means that signature capture can migrate to mobile devices like phones and tablets for easier interfacing.
It's a good idea to have a candid conversation with your customers about padding 2018's budget enough to incorporate these extended ELD costs for installation and monitoring; if they balk, explain because the mandate operates nationwide, they'll see the same uptick in costs no matter which 3PL they decide to work with.
If you're a smaller fleet operator, the ELD mandate may cause you an inordinate amount of financial concern. Now is an excellent time to do some research into freight costs to avoid "sticker shock" or unnecessary equipment buys, well before the mandate goes live on December 18th. You will also need to add to your cost to operate and work with your customers on proper pricing.
Read our free Freight Costs guide and take the costs of mandate compliance head-on, without worrying you might be missing something. The future of logistics is changing before our eyes, so make sure you're prepared to ride the wave of innovation that ELDs have to offer.