May 27, 2016
The Importance Of The E-logs Tracking System
In the not too distant past, truck drivers were faced with the grueling task of preparing paper logs to record the activities of the day. These included hours driven, length of fuel stops, duration of meal breaks, breakdowns, accidents and where their routes started and ended. Fortunately, the e-log system has been simplifying this burdensome process by tracking the activities of the driver electronically. All the required information is still outlined and recorded; however, the e-log system makes the process more efficient and a lot less hassling for drivers.
An electronic log or e-log is essentially a small, computerized electronic tracking system that is similar to a GPS device. The e-log is typically installed on the dashboard of a commercial vehicle. Its purpose is to record where the truck goes and when, idle time and its speed. This electronic logging device (ELD) even logs miles per gallon.
There are drivers who currently use electronic logbooks on a daily basis. When an employee enters his or her number in the device, the unit typically prompts the driver on whether a pre-trip inspection was done. The “drive” button is pressed once the vehicle starts moving and this allows the recording of details like number of miles traveled, the speed and the time.
When the trucker stops to take a break, make a delivery or fill up with fuel, he or she simply presses a button and alerts the unit of the activity. This generates the story of the trucker’s run for that day, without the need for pen and paper.
It costs approximately $700 to acquire an e-log unit and installation could take several hours. Apart from the fixed unit cost, a monthly subscription fee of roughly $50 is required. E-log providers offer support and troubleshooting services as required.
In addition to the installation and implementation processes, some trucking companies have taken a hands-on approach to training their truckers to become familiar with the new system. This makes the move toward using ELD immediately effective. Video tutorials are also available to help with the training or re-training process.
When correctly used, e-logs enhance the efficiency of dispatch and management staff of trucking companies. The e-log system can be used to great effect. For example, companies can use it to act as an interface among drivers, terminal managers and dispatchers. As driving hours are logged automatically, dispatchers can tell, at a glance, how far a driver is from reaching the maximum hours he or she is allowed for the day. The capacity to monitor driving hours prevents tickets and violations in the short term and helps CSA or Carrier Safety Administration scores in the long term.
There are a number of benefits that can be derived from using electronic logging devices. However, the immediate knowledge of current destination, location and arrival times seem to be the ones most talked about by individuals in the trucking industry.
Similar to any other new process, resistance could greet the implementation and adoption of new procedures and technology. The e-log system is no exception. However, trucking company managers have reported that a number of drivers who were very reluctant initially have become the biggest proponents of the system.
On Dec. 10, 2015, the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) released the final rule on electronic logging devices. This will force independent truckers and trucking companies to modernize how the hours of work for their drivers are tracked and presented.
In essence, the e-log mandate is designed to assist in creating a safer work atmosphere for drivers. Additionally, the device makes it faster and easier to correctly track, share and manage RODS (records of duty status).
Carriers who are using automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) prior to December 18, 2017, the compliance date of the rule, will have an implementation period of 4 years to replace AOBRDs with ELDs. ELDs synchronize with the engine of a vehicle to record driving time automatically, for the effective logging of more accurate (HOS) hours of service. The majority of drivers and carriers who have to maintain RODS is subjected to following these rules. Below is an outline of what the ELD rule entails:
- Specifies exceptions to the rule and the individuals who are covered by it
- Makes provision for ELDS to be registered, certified and added to a FMCSA website.
- Incorporates technical specifications to make sure that ELDs are compliant and standardized
- Incorporates a phased implementation timeline. This makes it possible for carriers and drivers to become compliant over a reasonable period of time
- Includes provisions that assist in preventing harassment of drivers and data tampering.
- Creates standardized data transfer processes and data displays, which makes it quicker for RODS to be shared with safety officials and easier to prove compliance.
In the long term, putting electronic logging devices that connect to onboard systems like engines and brakes into millions of heavy-duty commercial vehicles could result in an explosion of data. This could go a long way in revolutionizing the management of the flow of freight as it moves across North America and through the supply chains. This will, in turn, create more capacity for shippers, more profit for carriers and more compensation for drivers.
The revolutionized system would allow shippers to recoup from any short-term disruption that may have been caused by the e-log mandate. In addition, it could make that goal of real-time freight visibility a reality for the supply chain. This could be the start of what would be the biggest data explosion the transportation industry has ever seen.
It is important for enforcement partners to know compliance and enforcement procedures during each phase of the implementation process. Additionally, it is essential for these partners to be aware of the regulatory guidance that applies to each procedure.
Manufacturers of electronic logging devices also have to conform to the technical specifications of these devices. They must also have the devices certified and registered with the FMCSA. Everyone in the commercial transportation industry has a role to play in making the e-log system a success.