Choosing the right electronic logging device (ELD) is critical. By making the right decision, you can simplify compliance, increase safety, and boost efficiency. However, make the wrong decision and you could end up with unreliable technology, added costs or unexpected fees, and the possibility of starting the process all over again.
This guide outlines the key factors to consider. By going beyond price and looking at added features and security, you can find the right fit for your needs and one that will last for the long run.
In any ﬂeet, there could be many types of vehicles: Light-Duty, van, box truck, bucket truck, or even tractor truck. Fleets can also include alternative fuel and electric vehicles (EVs).
Look for a device that can be used for any class of vehicle. Finding a universal solution will reduce your costs in several ways. First, your drivers and personnel won’t have to learn multiple systems or types of installs. Second, having one device in all vehicles reduces the overall complexity of the entire solution.
What to Ask: Will the same device work in any type of vehicle?
The speed of installation can affect the overall ELD rollout. A complicated installation can be time-consuming and potentially costly to your budget. Be sure to ask how quick the installation procedure is and costs involved. A plug-and-play solution simplifies the process, even getting you up and running in minutes, not days and hours.
What to Ask: What is the installation procedure and how long does it take?
How much does an ELD cost? Many ELD solutions on the market are expensive, ranging up to $2,500 for an enterprise-grade solution. When you consider hardware, professional installation, and the monthly recurring charge (MRC) for each vehicle, costs can add up. On the other hand, an inexpensive solution may not include all the right features to suit your needs.
Look at your ELDs as an investment rather than an expense. A good ELD solution will offer far more benefits and opportunities for ﬂeet savings than costs in the long-term. For example, saving yourself one form-and-manner violation may result in an ELD solution paying for itself. You can also reduce costs by choosing an ELD solution that can be used with an existing mobile device, eliminating the need to purchase new equipment.
What to Ask: How much does the device cost and what are the ongoing fees?
An ELD application that is intuitive to use is essential. Drivers have many other responsibilities when they’re on the road. They need a solution that makes it easy to update their status, complete vehicle inspections, and swiftly provide a compliance report during roadside inspections. Administrators need robust data collection and reporting so that they can easily monitor Hours of Service (HOS) compliance and violations. A confusing user interface or complicated workﬂow may jeopardize your compliance program.
What to Ask: Is the ELD easy to use?
Compatibility with a smartphone or tablet adds convenience since mobile devices can be used for many different purposes. For drivers who are already comfortable with using a phone or tablet, this gives them a headstart on learning the technology.
What to Ask: Does the ELD support iOS and Android?
Can the ELD be used with off-the-shelf devices?
It’s quite common to find solutions that are time-based, meaning they periodically ask the device to provide information on where it is and how fast it’s going, and record that information. You could also call this a time ping rate. Depending on the frequency, the polling could occur from every one to fifteen minutes. Then they take a scientific guess as to what happened to that vehicle during the time when there was no communication.
Many things can happen to that vehicle in between those pings. That’s why you should look for an event-based solution that records and transmits data every time there is an event change (location, speed, harsh braking, harsh acceleration, harsh cornering, engine diagnostics, etc.). Having access to accurate and updated data will enable your ﬂeet to make the most intelligent business decisions.
What to Ask: Is the ELD solution time- or event-based?
As regulations change and new regulations come out, you want a product that has the ability to evolve. When the ELD mandate was released, the providers of AOBRD solutions had a choice whether to work towards ELD compliance or not. Responsiveness is key. If tomorrow, the government releases something else, you want to ensure the provider you’ve chosen is going to be on top of it.
What to Ask: How will you ensure the solution remains compliant?
Look for an ELD solution that will grow with you. Your needs tomorrow might be very different from your needs today.
What to Ask: What types of rate plans do you offer? How easy is it to switch?
Your Hours of Service data is critical to your business. That’s why you should put reliability at the top of the list when considering solutions. An ELD solution that leverages cloud computing is more reliable and robust. Even if something happens to the smartphone or tablet, a cloud-based solution ensures your data is safe and secure.
Take the Geotab solution as an example. Here’s how it works: the Cloud ELD interconnects the Geotab GO telematics device and the MyGeotab ﬂeet management software with a mobile device running the Geotab Drive app. Vehicular and positional data recorded by the Geotab GO device is sent to a MyGeotab server over a cellular connection. The aggregated data is organized and presented through a user-friendly interface in various forms (reports, maps, and notifications). MyGeotab data can also be extracted for any number of uses via an API.
What to Ask: How robust is the solution? Is it a Cloud ELD?
Regulations specify that a post-trip inspection must be completed after each trip, but many companies would also like their drivers to complete a pre-trip inspection. Look for an ELD solution that tags inspections as pre or post, and can send alerts for inspections not completed.
What to Ask: How does the ELD handle vehicle inspections?
Although not required by the ELD mandate, support for rulesets and exemptions will make the driver’s life easier. Having a solution that calculates all the driver’s hours, and shows exactly how much time they have remaining is a huge benefit and helps ensure they stay compliant with the Hours of Service regulations. There are many exemptions out there to the rulesets, so it’s smart to choose a vendor that has the ability to update the solution with new exemptions as they are required.
Future proof your investment by choosing a solution that can be upgraded with other advanced features such as Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIR), IFTA support, routing, risk management, driver safety, and third-party add in solutions like cameras, temperature sending and tire pressure monitoring. With extra features, you can leverage your ELD for greater efficiency and potential cost-savings. For example, optimizing your routes can help you deliver on-time, saving you time and money and increasing customer satisfaction. Go beyond HOS and look at how the telematics solution can support other aspects of your business.
What to Ask: What other advanced features does the ELD offer?
What rulesets and exemptions are supported?
When a large truck is in an accident, it is typically assumed they are at fault. Having a solution that can provide accident reconstruction with telematics data is extremely valuable in helping understand the events that occurred before, during, and after a collision. Ask about this important feature.
What to Ask: Can the solution provide data for accident reconstruction?
Don’t overlook the importance of having unfiltered access to your data. A free Software Development Kit (SDK) and open APIs opens up possibilities and makes it easy to share data with third-party vendors if necessary. Another advantage is integration with third-party solutions such as fuel cards, cameras, temperature sensors, and TMS applications.
What to Ask: Do you offer an SDK and APIs?
No two ﬂeets are exactly the same or have the same needs. You may determine you need a report, dashboard, rule or some other pertinent piece of data that is unique to you and would help you better manage your ﬂeet. In some cases, a vendor may ask you to submit a special request and state your business case. In other words, you must convince the vendor to help you. When and if they fulfill your request depends on how important it is to them, not to you the customer. Bottom line, your request could take months or result in extra charges. Ask up front about how ﬂexible the vendor is for customization.
What to Ask: Can I customize the ELD solution? What is the process?
Beware of ﬂash in the pan vendors who make big promises. Look to the vendor’s experience and their reputation in the industry as evidence of reliability. To get the most out of your investment, you want an ELD provider that will act as a partner, listen to your needs, and is capable of customizing the solution to your requirements. A vendor with a broader offering of solutions and services can provide more long-term value than one that only sells one product.
What is their track record? Find out who their top clients are and how long they have been with the company. A commitment to research and development and innovation, online marketplace with third-party partner solutions, and a strong security program are hallmarks of a good company.
What to Ask: How long has your company been in business?
Ask if they have offered an AOBRD product before.
The National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) has advised motor carriers to show preference to ELD solutions from major telematics providers that are based on existing secure platforms. Ask your provider about their security measures across the board, from manufacturing, to hardware and software, data transfer, and data storage.
What to Ask: How secure is the ELD?
Geotab’s electronic logging device (ELD) solution — Geotab Drive — is an affordable, expandable and very ﬂexible solution that streamlines Hours of Service, Driver Vehicle Inspection Reporting and Driver Identification, saving time and money. This smart mobile app works with the Geotab GO telematics device to help you meet compliance regulations, keep your ﬂeet productive and your drivers safe.
Download Geotab Drive free on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
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Geotab securely connects commercial vehicles to the internet, providing advanced web-based analytics to better manage your ﬂeet. Geotab’s MyGeotab open platform and Marketplace, offering hundreds of business solution options, allows both small and large businesses to automate operations by integrating vehicle data with a company’s other back office software and data assets. As an IoT hub, the in-vehicle device provides additional functionality through IOX Add-Ons including FMCSA ELD compliance. Processing more than 1 billion data points a day, Geotab leverages big data and machine learning to improve productivity, optimize ﬂeet asset utilization and total cost of ownership, enhance driver safety, and achieve a more integrated compliance strategy. The company’s products are represented and sold worldwide through its Authorized Geotab Resellers. To learn more, please visit www.geotab.com and follow us @GEOTAB and on LinkedIn.
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For more ﬂeet tips and best practices, go to www.geotab.com/blog
Author: Robin Kinsey, HOS/ELD Training Specialist (Edited by Melanie Serr, Vik Sridhar)© 2017 Geotab Inc. All Rights Reserved.