7 Considerations when Choosing an Electronic Logging Device
An Electronic Logging Device (ELD) is a device intended to help create a safer work environment for drivers, and improve accuracy in tracking, managing and sharing track records of duty status (RODS) data. Back in December 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced the implementation of a Final Rule that would improve roadway safety by employing technology to strengthen commercial truck and bus drivers’ compliance with hours-of-service regulations that prevent fatigue. This rule requires truck and bus drivers to install an Electronic Logging Device.
The rule impacts drivers who have been using traditional methods like paper logs or logging software and automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs). Considering the mandate isn’t going anywhere and it’s an obligation for bus and truck companies to ensure safety on the road, it’s mandatory to install an ELD device. Choosing the right ELD equipment for your fleet can be a challenge if you do not know what to check for. But that should not worry you because we have highly technical personnel who can review your business, then recommend the best ELD for your business based on your needs. Below are factors to consider when purchasing an ELD for your company.
1. Does the ELD meet the minimum requirements listed by FMCSA?
Before choosing a device, you have to check if it is in compliance with the FMCSA measures. A full list of the requirements is on the Government Publishing Office’s website. Based on those requirements, we check if it can perform the following functions;
- Integral Synchronization — an ELD must connect to the engine to automatically capture information like motion status, engine power status, and miles driven.
- Record location information — an ELD must capture location information during vehicle motion, engine on or off, change of duty status, at the beginning and end of personal use and yard moves.
- HOS Driver Advisory Messages — an ELD must notify the driver of unassigned driving time/miles upon login.
- Device ‘Default’ Duty status — an ELD must default to “On Duty not driving” When the vehicle has not moved for 5 continuous minutes, and the driver has not responded to an ELD prompt within 1 minute.
- Show a graph grid display — An ELD must display a graph grid showing the driver’s daily status changes.
- Communication of Data — An ELD must be able to display standardized data to authorized safety officials via a display or printout on request.
- Tamper resistance — An ELD should be designed in a way to resist erasing of recorded files. Also, the ELD must support data integrity checking functions.
- Detect Sensor failures and data edits — it must identify and record any malfunctions or data inconsistencies.
2. The Operating System on the ELD
Apart from the hardware that is usually plugged into vehicle engines, there is the software part. The software in combination with the hardware is what forms a complete automated fleet management system. Software can be in the form of mobile apps usually installed on drivers’ phones and web portal for managing fleets. Every ELD comes with a different operating system installed, so we check for the following:
- Customization — depending on a review of your company, we check if the ELD can be configured to give data specific to your needs. Let’s say your trucks handle refrigerated products; then you might need an ELD with temperature tracking capability.
- User Interface — grasping technical aspects of a system can require some training. We consider how easier it is to interact with the software installed on an ELD before purchasing.
- Scalability — Is your company growing fast and you may take into account adding more vehicles to the fleet? This will help you make a decision between choosing software that supports a smaller fleet or one with scalability and can support a growing fleet of vehicles.
3. Accompanying mobile device
An ELD comes with accompanying devices; it could be a cell phone, tablet, or even a laptop. These devices hold the operating system we’ve just mentioned above. Before selecting an ELD, you have to consider how it will impact on your drivers and mechanics. Most people use mobile phones so getting around a mobile phone would be easy. Some people may prefer using tablets and laptops because of a larger display than a mobile phone. Since drivers have to input data into the system; like logins or records of duty status, the cost of training the drivers and mechanics to use the system has to be considered choosing an ELD. You may consider choosing an ELD vendor who offers training as an after sales service.
4. Wireless Channel the ELD uses
Some devices use satellites while others use cell phones. On deciding whether to go with a cell phone or a satellite based system, we review where your trucks are most likely to go. In certain areas, cell phone coverage could be lost, meaning the ELD may not be able to send data to the fleet control center. We have to consider how to go about such a case or if we should use a satellite-based system.
Does the device have reporting features? Technology is meant to make life easier. The ELD is brought in to do away with paperwork. The right ELD should have reporting features that satisfy the needs of the company. Records stored should be accessible for HOS compliance, law enforcements, and weigh stations. The data should be shareable and exportable via reports to send to several recipients over email. The dashboard for the fleet manager should be easy to use.
6. Cost of Operations and Support
Whether you have a small or a large fleet, there will be costs of operations per unit involved. When picking an ELD, we put into consideration factors like installation costs, system time charges, access fees, and ongoing support. We compare products to come up with the best that can fit your fleet. Our final selection is usually based on what offers the greatest value and not what is least expensive. We consider equipment warranty and whether the vendor of the ELD will be available for future support and inquiries.
Some ELD devices offer 2-way messaging where the fleet manager can send notifications from the management dashboard, and the driver can respond from their mobile device that has the ELD app. As the use of a cellphone while driving is prohibited on US roads, having an alternative way for drivers to send information to the fleet manager is a great advantage. You have to consider if your company needs such a feature based on what the company does. For example, drivers can use a 2-way messaging feature to notify the fleet manager that they have arrived at a warehouse.
Would your company like to choose an ELD that addresses both its business concerns and inefficiencies? Knowing where to look, which questions to ask, and what to test, will get you an ELD that will suitably fit your company needs.
Are you looking to install an Electronic Logging Device in your company vehicles? Contact one of our advisors today!
https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-12-16/pdf/2015-31336.pdf (Government Publishing Office’s website)