5 Things to Consider When Choosing an ELD Provider

Now that the ELD Mandate has taken effect, fleet operators and logistics managers have a lot to consider. Many—still around one million—trucks still do not have an ELD (electronic logging device) installed and many fleet operators are still evaluating whether or not to roll the dice and even adhere to the mandate.

Those who do decide to become compliant will be bombarded with choices in solutions and as always, some will prove smarter decisions than others. There is far more to weigh than just grabbing an ELD device off the shelf. Here’s what to look for and avoid when making this critical selection.

Beware of the fly-by-night providers

Anytime there is a mandate in a particular industry, where compliance must be met or risk getting heavily fined, so-called solution providers come out of the wood work to capitalize on the gold rush that is this exceedingly lucrative time. Suddenly, many devices are available, promising advanced features and, of course, the lowest prices. Logistics managers should be sure to evaluate solutions from established vendors that have demonstrated success in the industry, via experience and knowledge within their domain.

Did the vendor receive the proper certifications?

Operators should ask if the software vendor ran all 320 tests and signed off on each one. This shows they did everything required and can prove it. Also, they should check to see that the app-hardware pairing is certified, not just the app itself. Many companies have given themselves blanket certification, which is not within the rules.

Rules, rules, rules

Ensure the app supports all state and federal rules, as well as Canadian and Mexican rules. Drivers are driving from Mexico to Canada, so it’s a great idea to address all the rules. There are more than 500 pages of ELD rules, in addition to another 500 pages of IFTA and DVIR rules. The ELD rules alone are full of edge cases and obscure exemptions. For example, one rule requires programming the app to account in the log for what might happen the next day. Very difficult to do, and many apps probably don’t have it. There are also obscure exemptions such as the “Michigan Summer Construction Season” exemption. Fleet managers should make certain the app has taken all these factors into account.

The key to adoption is ease of use

Solutions also need to be intuitive and easy to use and implement. This will help cut down on the need for mandatory and time-consuming training sessions for drivers on the use of ELD technology. Make sure it’s designed for “fat fingers” so that drivers don’t inadvertently press the wrong part of the app screen. Also, apps should be well documented within themselves, with screenshots and examples in case the driver is not able to call for assistance.

The connection matters

Fleet managers are advised to select a solution that connects to the hardware directly to the engine in real time and not through a server. Server-based products are at the mercy of a cellular connection, which is not always available. In those cases, a loss of connectivity could cause the app to not have the latest information, and if the driver needs to show law enforcement the logs, a fine could ensue when the app and the information on the truck, such as odometer and position, don’t agree.

The industry will continue to change—and ELDs alone are merely today’s table stakes. Smart fleets now have an opportunity to adopt a software/hardware platform that takes them further down the road—increasing efficiency and safety through integrations with new technology—a system that will scale with their growth and provide a vastly greater return on investment.

When evaluating platforms to meet ELD regulations, avoid the Band-Aid approach that will soon become outdated. New productivity and safety-increasing technology can offer a competitive advantage, facilitate growth, and ensure investments aren’t wasted.