Blog Post

Enterprise ELD vs Owner Operator Deployments – What is the Difference?

Stephen G. Eick

FMCSA’s ELD mandate is now just over a year old.  Motor carriers, fleet service providers, and owner-operators have until December 18, 2017 to implement and an ELD solution.  At a fundamental level, all ELDs are the same.  Compliance is compliance.  Every certified ELD solution must meet FMCSA’s § 395.20 regulations.  But then is there a difference between an ELD solution that’s appropriate for an owner operator or small fleet and a large enterprise motor carrier?

Both Owner Operator and Enterprise Needs

  1. Compliance. The ELD must meet all relevant regulations and must be upgraded to stay compliant as the regulations change.
  2. Calculate IFTA fuel tax. By providing accurate state mileage reporting the ELD can save owner operators time, money, and hassle out of their fuel tax reporting.
  3. Full set of Driving Rules.  Owner operators need US, Alaska, Canada, Texas Intrastate, California Intrastate, Property and Passenger rules.
  4. Complete set of Exemptions and Exceptions including Adverse Driving Conditions, Emergency Conditions, Oil Field Operations, 100/150 Mile Short Haul Exemption, Twenty Four Hour Restart, Once Per Week 16 Hour Driving Window, Agricultural Exemption, and all the Canadian rules
  5. Integrated DVIR Management.  The ELD solution should provide integrated  § 39511 compliant DVIRs since they are also required for compliance.
  6. Back Office Portal.  FMCSA requires that Driver Logs be retained for 6 months and that log data be available for an audit for the same 6 months.  To meet this requirement requires a Back Office that is accessed through a portal.

Owner Operator Needs

  1. Simple to install.  Drivers need to be able to self install the device, have it configure itself, login, and start driving.
  2. Easy to use. Owner operators are not computer scientists and to not have an IT organization supporting them. They need an easy solution that just works.
  3. Low hardware cost.  For an owner operator an ELD is an expense.  Low cost matters.
  4. Low cost of operation.  Owner operator ELDs don’t need an expensive data plan since communications to back office servers may be done over free wifi networks.

Enterprise ELD Needs

  1. Mobile ELD.  Drivers need to be able to move between trucks, to login and out of the ELD, and perform loading dock work.
  2. Back Office Integration with Motor Carrier IT system including integration Time Keeping system, Exporting of Driver Hours to IT Planning Systems, exporting of vehicle mileage to maintenance systems, etc.
  3. APIs.  An enterprise motor carrier will have sophisticated IT systems that will maintain records of the tractors, trailers, drivers, load, delivery schedules, loads and so on.  This information must be transferred through APIs to the ELD system to populate the driver logs.  Conversely, the ELD system must expose the driver daily driving hours, remaining shift and cycle hours, violations, and DVIRs.  This is commonly done using a REST API interface.
  4. Real-time Integration with a Fleet Management Portal.  In contrast with an owner operator, an enterprise customer needs the ELD system to be integrated with their fleet management portal.  The ELD portal needs to show the fleet manager the current status of the drivers, e.g. Driving, OnDutyND, OffDuty, OnBreak,…, how many legal hours remaining until his next break, in his shift, and on his cycle, and his violation status.
  5. Portal Security by Terminal, Job Function, Management Level, etc.  In an enterprise deployment there needs to be multiple levels of security and filtering to prevent unauthorized use.  For example, the supervisor at the Denver terminal needs visibility to his drivers and to any drivers with loads heading to his terminal.  But he should not have visibility into the San Diego terminal.
  6. Workflow.  The ELD must support the driver’s workflow and be intuitive as the driver starts his day, is assigned a vehicle and load, performs his DVIR, starts driving, stops for break, makes delivers, is assigned dock work, etc.
  7. Single Sign-on.  For an enterprise a requirement is that the ELD solution and Motor Carrier IT systems provide integrated access using SSO.  It’s unreasonable to expect workers to authenticate with multiple back office systems.
  8. Mobile Device Software Integration.  In an enterprise environment drivers will be provided with a mobile device, Android or iOS, that will run carrier provided applications.  These applications must be seamlessly integrated to provide an unified driver experience.


The ELD requirements for an owner-operator or small fleet and enterprise are similar in that both need compliance.  But that is where the similarity ends.  Owner operators needs a simple solution that is cost effective. Enterprise customers need a more complex solution that integrates with their existing infrastructure with API support for complex operations.