How It Works
What ELD can do
Real-time information about a particular vehicle is valuable in many aspects. Usually, a trucking service vendor is just one of the links in quite a long supply chain. Various members of a logistics network such as inspectors, fleet support specs, and freight brokers prefer to be informed about the status of each vehicle firsthand. And a smartphone is nothing but a poor palliative in such a situation.
Electronic logging devices can track and share real-time data about a truck’s engine along with the number of traveled kilometers automatically. ELDs communicate with truck engines directly to record the ignition status, motor hours, and other engine-specific parameters. The embedded navigation features of ELDs work with a vehicle’s GPS trackers to share the location info through corresponding servers.
The vehicle’s monitoring logs created by ELDs can be accessed by both drivers and other trucking service participants via a mobile application. Besides, the ELD’s data is usually synchronized with fleet management software that coordinates traffic of commercial vehicles to optimize trucking workflows.
In summary, the business performance of each commercial truck can be effectively assessed through the logs generated by ELDs. The easily shareable data recorded in ELD logs helps achieve the following:
- Removing paperwork out of truck driver routines;
- Making various vehicle inspections faster and simpler;
- Monitoring the driver’s fatigue status to make driving safer;
- Minimizing breakdowns related to drivers’ errors;
- Boosting the efficiency of a commercial fleet through improved vehicle maintenance;
- Achieving economical driving through fuel savings;
- Implementing time-saving service through better route planning.
Who needs ELD and who doesn’t
Theoretically speaking, every truck needs an ELD to keep a record of duty status (RODS). But in practice, it is not so. If a driver has less than 8 days of duty status logs a month, no ELD is required. Most commercial trucks should be equipped with ELDs in both the USA and Canada. The difference is in the certification of the devices, however. American ELD vendors may certify their devices on their own while Canadian companies have to obtain third-party certification.
Besides, both the nuances of a particular truck’s operation and the working circumstances of each driver determine whether an ELD is mandatory in a certain case or not. In some cases, the ELD regulation seems to be hardly explainable.
Old trucks (produced before 2000) can go without ELDs, for example. Why? There is no straightforward answer. Maybe nobody believes that such an old banger is able to drive more than 150 miles a day. At least, this resonates with another “regulative easing” that allows any truck to drive without an ELD in a 150-mile radius. But most probably, no commercial efficiency is expected from old trucks to apply driving optimization to them with ELDs.
Farm vehicles are exempted from using ELDs as well. The same relates to towaway drivers who deliver vehicles as shipments. Nonetheless, it is worth remembering that electronic logging devices are quite young as such even though they have replaced manually filled paper logs. ELD regulation still keeps evolving, and changes are likely possible in the future, therefore.
Pros and cons of ELD
Like any other type of hardware, ELDs have their particular advantages and disadvantages. Their pros outnumber their cons, otherwise, nobody would use ELDs in practice. The main advantage of ELDs implies a certain sort of usability that no other hardware can provide. At the same time, hardware compatibility is what makes ELDs universal in operation.
An ELD can work as a dispatcher point that helps coordinate fleet traffic. This is a very useful feature to improve the efficiency of the entire logistics network. Automated coordination has a great value for trucking service providers in the present age of speed.
Since all commercial ELDs work under monthly subscriptions, customizable plans are worth having to make ELD operations flexible. This is about the ability to satisfy the needs of different fleets by size. Most top-rated ELD providers offer customizable plans allowing you not to change hardware for a completely different one when your fleet grows.
The main disadvantage of ELDs seems to be the greater extent of surveillance that drivers have to be exposed to. Many drivers share an ambivalent attitude towards ELDs due to invasions of privacy the technology inevitably brings to their life. The issue is sensitive for trucking vendors who have to explain to their drivers that ELDs are aimed at improving the efficiency of freight service rather than at spying on drivers’ behavior.
Some less critical cons of ELDs include quite a high cost of hardware along with a certain training period required to educate drivers to operate ELDs.
Is there a choice in ELD providers?
No empty niche is possible in the electronics market today. But ELD manufacturers are not as countless as trucking vendors are. You can easily find about a hundred ELD providers via Google search. Top-10/20 ratings are widely available as well. They include both famous electronics manufacturers such as Garmin, and popular mobile providers such as Verizon and At&T.
The ratings may differ a little from case to case but the best ELD solutions always remain in the top positions. The largest difference between ELD providers is in the initial hardware price. It starts from zero (when a special subscription package is included) and reaches $2,647 for a multifunctional electronic complex along with a 3-year plan. Connectivity providers (At&T and the like) usually offer hardware for free once their main business is selling services. Needless to say that all top-rated ELD hardware is FMCSA compliant.
It becomes clear why drivers and trucking companies appreciate one or another ELD when top-rated hardware is considered in more detail. The features and properties of an illustrative model can reveal how ELDs facilitate trucking routines.