For years, trucking industry professionals have heard that electronic logging devices (ELDs) will “someday” be required by law. Now “someday” is just around the corner. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will soon require the use of ELDs by commercial drivers who currently prepare hours-of-service (HOS) records of duty status (RODS) using paper logs.
Phase 1 of a three-phase ELD rule implementation timeline began in February 2016. On December 18, we’ll enter Phase 2 when, for the most part, all carriers and drivers subject to the ELD rule must be using a certified, registered ELD.
ELDs regularly record the date and time along with the vehicle location, engine hours and mileage, and driver identification information. When the vehicle is in motion, the location data is captured and movement verified using a direct engine connection. The vehicle’s location is also recorded each time the driver powers up and shuts down the engine, changes duty status, and indicates personal use or yard moves.
Truck drivers have been recording their on- and off-duty status using paper and pencil since 1938. This method is difficult to verify, making it easy to fudge log entries and to accommodate the unfortunate but sometimes unavoidable delays related to loading and unloading. The lack of reliable documentation also brings about challenges for carriers who want to enforce detention times and collect fees.
ELDs will provide electronic proof of truck arrival and departure times. Time spent waiting for a loading dock to open up or for paperwork to be completed will be automatically factored into drivers’ HOS logs. Inefficiencies at shipping and receiving facilities can no longer hide under the cover of creative record-keeping. If these inefficiencies are not addressed, the result will be a need for more trucks, increased shipping rates and other costs.
When manufacturers and their business partners take a positive view of the ELD mandate, they can strategically use compliance as an opportunity to help increase efficiencies.
This is the right time to talk about supply chain logistics and fleet management together. This discussion should begin with an understanding of telematics.
Telematics—the basis of ELD technology—is a way to connect vehicles to the wider world of information and communication. A telematics device combines a GPS receiver with an on-board diagnostic reader. When installed in a vehicle, the device can map the vehicle’s location and relay information like vehicle speed, idle time and fuel efficiency.
Fleet operators have been using telematics as a fleet management tool since the turn of the century. While ELDs are only required to collect data to determine compliance with HOS regulations, many fleets invest in more robust telematics, also known as “mobile resource management solutions,” to increase the benefits.
A good mobile resource management solution is scalable and integrates with existing back office systems like supply chain management, ERP and payroll. If you need to comply with ELD rules, make sure your mobile resource management or fleet management solution meets the FMCSA’s compliance requirements. ELD manufacturers are responsible for registering their ELDs, and some began doing so last year.
As more motor carrier fleets come online to comply with the ELD rule, it will increase their ability to share valuable information digitally with shippers and receivers, enabling real-time ETAs and dwell verification. This will help build a more dynamic supply chain.
As supply chains become increasingly global, flexibility becomes paramount. Staying digitally connected through mobile resource management means more accurate ETAs, fewer out-of-route miles, real-time asset utilization data and more agile dispatching. These benefits add up to reduced delay and detention times, lower shipping rates, less reliance on safety stock and better last-mile efficiency.