The commercial freight industry is undergoing a changeover as we speak. In the fast-paced world we live in, demand has severely outgrown supply. To balance the forces, modifications should be applied. But before we can even consider the clients’/customers’ needs, negligence and recklessness shroud the freight industry within that is bleeding money. Truck drivers get paid from the miles traveled and not from the hours on the road. They are required to enter details on logs which means time spent on paperwork. The only electronic device that is synchronized to the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is an automatic onboard recording device (AOBRD). It goes as far as recording the activity of the work order but filling up details manually. This allows the tinkering of the details and provides false information and estimation, either by, human error or intention.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has structured a rule, approved by the U.S. Federal Government, that has provided a time of 4 years to December 16, 2019, to introduce, initiate, and establish the electronic logging device mandate, or simply known as, ELD mandate. By the aforementioned date, all commercial carriers must have an ELD internally synchronized to the engine of the CMV. Depending on the type of ELD, the current AOBRD will be updated or replaced.

The brief on ELD

Before we get into the best in the business, we need to address what is ELD?

Truck drivers give priority to the miles driven. Again, they are concerned with the designated hours of service (HOS) they receive from the carrier company. HOS is a record of driving hours which often has restrictions as they might suffer from fatigue. This includes the on-duty hours and the rest periods of a trip. With the current AOBRD, it is difficult to precisely record the required data. Hence, the ELD mandate is born. It is designed to record the driver’s activities while on duty. It also measures the vehicle’s performance.

Who to choose?

In the period of the phase shift from AOBRD to ELD, many AOBRD providers that provided support and service have slowly accepted changes and switched to becoming ELD providers. The best guys to go for are the ones that spawned their business pre-ELD era which was before 2012-2013 as they have witnessed the shift in the industry’s horizon. However, just like choosing your first personal vehicle, lots of aspects and decisions are considered for choosing the best.

Before purchasing an ELD, it has to be FMCSA certified, violation of this can prove very hefty for the driver and the carrier company. ELD providers can sell BYOD (bring your device) E-log solutions or dedicated ELD solutions. The BYOD solution needs the ELD to be connected to a smartphone or tablet which would utilize cellular access. While the dedicated ELD solutions have a one-time upfront cost with the full package of additional hardware and service. However, some of them possess limited features, like, only for logging purposes. Hence, it is important to inquire about the ELD’s versatility. Some features do require a monthly service fee, so again, it is best to consider all of the options that are available and to come up with a methodical step by step plan for your organization. Some ELD providers are ready to give offer the hardware installation free of charge and then charge you a small monthly fee. Such providers will be a great choice for business owners who want to save money on installation. There is the option of getting more complex, and often expensive gadgets to stand out from the rest. They can be obtained through financing. For this particular case, the equipment will have a more affordable upfront cost. The vendors are flexible to business owner’s needs as they can offer custom solutions for custom functionality, the price would differ from vendor to vendor.

What to look at?

While technical specifications are crucial, picking an ELD provider is even more crucial. You can begin this step by reviewing the consumer reviews, this is a window to a good understanding of the experience. This does not exclude the vendor’s reputation, their stance, and, what they offer in their business. The ELD you would consider can be tested and a trial cement for the decision if it fits the bill for your company. 

Every product should be determined if it is a good bang for your buck, it is no different for purchasing an ELD. Costs can range from the device itself, monthly service fees, installation, and, service/maintenance fees. E-log solutions should always be user-friendly and easily accessible usage for anyone who is going to start from scratch. Provided there is an easy-to-read instruction guideline. The process of installation must be a breeze and not time-consuming. After purchasing the ELD product/package, 24/7 customer service support is an essential and prime concern, especially, for a business where time plays a part.

The list of features that are at hand are:

  • Message alert
  • Log entry report
  • Real-time GPS tracking
  • Vehicle diagnostics
  • Option to scan documents
  • Dashboard surveillance

Final thoughts

Although, after thorough deliberation with what is in store in the marketplace, another deliberation must take place, is with your strategy. The intention of the plan can decide on how the plan can be in the course of action. Irrespective of the costs involved being affordable or not, no one is ready to splash a heap of cash. Every business owner wants to see a better return on investment and deliverance of long-term value. An ELD provider must provide the opportunity to streamline the operation of commercial freight business, minimize operating expenditures/administrative hassles, and automate several tasks from the features of the ELD in store. So, what can be taken away from this is, not to make a hasty decision when choosing a provider. The vendor’s reputation and experience should match your company’s needs and keep up with the times.