The old paper logs that commercial vehicle operators kept to prove they were within the maximum amount of driving time allowed in a specified period finally went away in 2017. That’s when the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) first mandated electronic logging devices, or ELDs. Fleets already using AOBRDs (automatic onboard recording devices) got an extra two years to comply. With ELDs, FMCSA says it’s improved safety through highly accurate and tamper-proof record-keeping.
But while fleet operators spent a lot of money getting into compliance, many didn’t get a lot of bang for their buck. There were issues with ELD device quality. Large numbers suffered through poor vendor support. Others couldn’t fully capitalize on one of the chief benefits of having an ELD system: all the data generated.
Companies in the process of refreshing or upgrading their ELD technology are finding there are much better solutions available that enable them to squeeze more value out of their technology.
1) Cutting Edge Fleet Management
Beyond tracking operator HOS (hours of service), the best ELD systems empower fleet managers like never before. Drivers, trucks, and trailers can all be linked with sensors that send back data that trucking companies can use to make real-time decisions to improve operations and gain competitive advantages.
A) Fleet Optimization
Managers can use data on the location of trucks, the location of loads, and drivers’ HOS to make decisions about what loads to accept and who to send. You get better efficiency and improved customer satisfaction by matching loads with available space and accurately communicating with drivers and customers about locations and delivery times.
The long-term gathering of data about vehicle use can be used to decide where they’re best utilized or if they should be replaced with other types of equipment.
B) Improve Safety and Driving Behavior
ELD systems do more than track driver HOS. They also collect data on things like an operator who frequently brakes, corners, or accelerates too hard. The information can be used to coach poor drivers or offer rewards to good ones. When operators know they’re being monitored, they’re more likely to tone down their driving, which leads to fewer accidents, fewer encounters with law enforcement, and lower insurance rates.
C) Lower Fuel Costs
Less aggressive driving lowers fuel costs, and ELD systems can also be used to track how much time a truck spends idling. A U.S. Department of Energy study found a large truck uses .8 gallons of diesel an hour idling. Long-haul trucks average about 1,800 hours a year idling and use 1,500 gallons of fuel.
Drivers typically use idling to run air conditioning or heat while they rest, but there are other options, like auxiliary power generators. Incentives can be used to make drivers aware of the amount of idling they do and reward them for behavior changes.
D) Prevent Breakdowns
Some ELD systems can monitor the health of the vehicle by reporting fault codes generated by the truck’s systems so that maintenance can be scheduled before problems lead to a breakdown.
Sensors can also report problems in the trailer, like a refrigeration system that’s failing, so something can be done about it before a load spoils.
Long-term vehicle data helps drive fleet overhaul and replacement planning by tracking maintenance costs and other information.
2) Great User Experiences Improve Driver Retention and Wellness
Easy-to-use ELD devices with touch screens and simple interfaces go a long way towards making a driver’s life better. Mobile solutions are easy to carry around as operators take on or deliver loads, collect signatures, and log their actions. Rugged construction helps prevent everyday mishaps that can damage or destroy flimsier equipment.
Tablet-based ELDs can be an employment perk because they can be used for entertainment when drivers are off duty, like movies, games, or staying connected with family and friends via video calls.
Wearables that send and receive notifications to improve employee/manager communication can also improve driver health through sleep monitoring or fitness applications. They’ll even track location and position to alert a fleet manager if a driver is in distress or has fallen on the job.
3) Improved Security
All end-user devices are a frequent target for hackers looking to get into larger corporate networks and systems. Any fleet operator using mobile ELD needs robust security protection to protect company and customer data. The latest ELD technology not only features state-of-the-art defense software but the ability to track and remotely wipe data from misplaced or stolen devices too.
Systems like the Knox platform from Samsung create separate work and personal use spaces on devices. It effectively sandboxes corporate data and applications away from drivers accessing personal entertainment and communication apps, so there’s no comingling of data.
4) Superior Mobile Device Management
Partnering with a Managed Mobility Services (MMS) provider offers a host of benefits—especially for organizations with many devices and limited IT resources. Industry-leading providers offer consulting teams who assist with solution selection, proof of concepts, and solution design to maximize your ROI. They have the resources to procure the right devices and applications from OEM partners and then quickly stand up new projects. Then, they offer end-user support by expertly-trained and certified staff who understand trucking industry-specific needs and applications. Effective MDM creates excellent user experiences while allowing your IT staff to focus on innovation and growth activities.
5) Lower TCO
When organizations begin to calculate the cost of a mobile solution, they usually begin with the short-term costs like devices and applications. But determining the actual total cost of ownership (TCO) is multilayered and complex. There’s another layer of expense drivers like support and soft costs such as downtime when you get beyond the hardware costs and carrier plans. This is another area where an MMS provider can provide value. Not only do they offer speedy and effective end-user support, but they have the agility to rapidly repair and return devices both effectively and in a predictable, cost-effective fashion.
Another option from MMS providers is mobile Device as a Service (mDaaS). It rolls Mobile hardware, software, and services into a convenient monthly per-device price. It moves the cost from CAPEX to OPEX and offers a predictable monthly fee that gives the flexibility to scale based on business needs.
A recent study by VDC Research found companies who used an MMS provider were more than two times as likely to be extremely satisfied with their TCO.
Go Far Beyond ELD Compliance
So while fleet operators that invested in early ELD solutions may have focused mainly on FMCSA compliance, now is the time to reap all the other benefits that you may have missed out on. From more productive and efficient fleet management, last-mile execution, better end-user experiences and driver retention, beefed up security, improved Mobile Device Management, and lower TCO, a refresh or upgrade of your ELD technology presents new growth opportunities.
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