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Beyond Mandates


Electronic logs offer many operational benefits.

By Eric Witty

Electronic logging devices (ELDs) have been a big topic of conversation across the transportation and logistics industry, particularly as the deadline for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s electronic logging device mandate approaches. This mandate aims to provide a technology solution that will help reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities in the trucking industry. Fleets have until Dec. 18, 2017, to implement ELDs.

The ELD rule applies to motor carriers and drivers who are currently required to keep records of duty status under the hours-of-service regulations.

While some fleet managers are only looking to ELDs to be compliant with federal regulations, what they may not realize is the potential ELDs have to increase the bottom line and maximize return on investment. Some organizations, whether due to financial constraints or because they want a quick fix, will only aim to meet the minimum requirements to become compliant. By just reaching the minimum, fleets are missing out on the numerous benefits of going beyond simply implementing an ELD.

Boosting the Bottom Line

Under the mandate, fleets will be required to link their ELDs to the engine control module on trucks to record hours of service. This connection also provides carriers with the opportunity to collect a large amount of valuable data, including driver behavior, vehicle performance, truck diagnostics and fuel usage, which can be analyzed and applied to improve all of the above and more through a fleet management system (FMS), which includes electronic logging capabilities.

Data captured by an FMS provides a powerful business tool for carriers, informing and empowering them to make smarter decisions that save time and money, eliminate safety risks and improve the bottom line.

While the ELD mandate is a major motivation for fleets to implement technology, it is far from the only reason. Additional benefits include:

  • Significant time savings. Each day, drivers spend a significant amount of time completing paper logbooks. ELDs improve this process by automatically recording hours of server, saving an estimated 20 to 40 minutes per day, which adds up to 50 hours per year. Furthermore, some systems actually afford more drive time by tracking hours by the minute versus 15-minute increments. In addition, roadside inspections are much faster, as drivers will simply need to provide a screen display of their e-logs or take part in a roadside data transfer.
  • Improved safety and fewer accidents. An FMS with electronic logging capabilities provides GPS tracking, route management, fault-code monitoring and real-time identification of bad driving behaviors such as over-RPM and over-speed, idle time and sudden stops and starts. Industry data also underscores this with similar findings on the road. For example, a 375-truck fleet implemented an electronic log solution and reduced costs for fatigue related incidents by 61 percent and reduced rollovers by approximately 67 percent over the course of two years.
  • Better route management and fuel economy. An FMS with electronic logging capabilities provides fleet managers the ability to track and monitor each and every truck in real time, improving communications between the back office and drivers. Through GPS navigation and location history, fleet managers and drivers can plan the most efficient routes to save time. In addition to streamlining operations, route management helps reduce fuel costs through selecting the most efficient routes. Fuel savings alone can amount to thousands of dollars every month.
  • Maximum ROI and a better bottom line. Improving safety, efficiency, route management, fuel economy and vehicle performance through an FMS all rolls into cost savings, which improves the bottom line. Fleets that have implemented electronic logs can also achieve impressive ROI that comes with hours of service compliance, including reduced overhead, lower insurance premiums and the elimination of costly CSA (compliance, safety, accountability) enforcement fines — all adding up to a better bottom line.

Don’t delay implementation

Recent research estimates that only about half of fleets are prepared to be fully compliant with the mandate when it goes into effect, with more than 20 percent reporting that they are not even investigating how to comply with the mandate, all but assuring those fleets won’t be ready by December. Because ELD implementation is not turnkey, fleets shouldn’t wait until the last minute to purchase.

Given the training requirements associated with the mandate, as well as the multiple benefits of using ELDs, it’s simply not worth waiting until the last minute. For more information including tips on choosing and implementing ELDs, visit www.peoplenetonline.com/ELD.

Eric Witty is the vice president of product management at PeopleNet. He oversees all PeopleNet product lines and is responsible for setting the product vision and direction for the company. Prior to joining PeopleNet, Witty served as vice president of product management for Cadec Global, which was acquired by PeopleNet in 2015. 

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