Blog Post

What to Look for in an ELD

Stephen G. Eick
eick@vistracks.com
25-Jan-17

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 what should potential customers look for in an ELD?

Have-to-Haves

  1. Compliance. All ELDs must meet FMCSA’s  § 395.20 regulations and be upgraded to stay compliant as the regulations change.
  2. Certification. ELD vendors must self-certify by running each test FMCSA’s test suite
  3. Walkup Usable, For a driver the ELD must be easy to use and intuitive for drivers.  At VisTracks we strive for what we call “Walkup Usable.”  What this means is that our software should be so intuitive that a driver who is familiar with paper logs should be able to use our ELD without any training.
  4. Easy to Install – Motor Carriers, support personnel, or drivers need to be able to install the device, have it configure itself, login, and start driving.  Installation must be easy.
  5. Full set of Driving Rules.  Drivers need US, Alaska, Canada, Texas Intrastate, California Intrastate, Property and Passenger, 60 hours 7 days, 70 hours 8 days, etc.
  6. FMCSA’s 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, and Agricultural Exemption.
  7. Low Hardware Costs.  For a motor carrier or an owner operator an ELD is expense.  Saving money is important and low cost matters.
  8. Low Operational Costs. ELDs must be efficient to minimize the amount of data sent over expensive data plans and to reduce monthly operational expenses.
  9. Violation Warnings.  Although it was removed from the final version of the ELD regulations, every driver should insist that the ELD vendor provide violation warnings before a violation occurs.  Drivers must know before a violation occurs and must have advance warning to prevent the violation.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Integrated DVIR Management.  The ELD solution should provide integrated  § 395.11 compliant DVIRs since they are also required for compliance.

Nice-to-Haves

  1. Canadian Rules. When a driver crosses the border between the USA and Canada the ELD should automatically transition to the appropriate country’s driving rules.
  2. 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. 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.
  4. Mobile ELD support.  When the ELD functionality is implemented on a mobile device such as a smartphone  or tablet it is very convenient to assign devices to drivers.  But if the drivers move between trucks, the ELD must support mobile operation and enable drivers to seamlessly connect and disconnect from vehicles.
  5. Security by Role, Terminal, Job Function, etc.  For enterprise deployments 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.

Conclusion

The ELD market is confusing.  There are lots of substandard offers in the market.  And some of the other offers from existing vendors are very costly but don’t provide extra features to justify the cost.  ELD purchases should select an ELD that has all of the “have-to-have” features and the “nice-to-haves” that are relevant to their business.