What Owner-Operators and Small Fleets Need to Know about ELDs

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The Electronic Logging Device (ELD) is for recording and documenting a driver’s Record of Duty Status, or in short, RODS. This tool is a timesaver for drivers who had to manually enter their records manually into a paper logbook.

The device connects with the truck’s engine, which transfers driving time to the ELD directly. This is faster and easier than logging manually. It is also more accurate. ELD is most helpful when there is a fleet of trucks to operate.

Eyeride Online brings you vital and need-to-know information on Electronic Logging Devices.

Types of Devices Fleet Owners May Need

The motor carrier may be the one who dictates the brand and model the owner-operator who is under contract will use. The carrier may decide to take up payment for the device or have the owner-operator pick up the tab.

However, if the owner-operator is not under contract, they are required to get their own ELD that is compliant to the relevant authorities. They are also expected to have two separate accounts:

  • As fleet manager; back end
  • As the driver; in-cab device

Must-Have Options

It is good to take into consideration the size of the operation:

  • Single truck operation
  • Small or large fleet

This way, the fleet manager is able to figure out what software options are necessary and which ones to leave out. Some of the must-have options include:

  • Fuel tax reporting
  • Electronic trip inspection reports

These two are necessary even for a single truck operation.

Basic Operations

ELDs should at the very least record hours of service information and this should be done according to regulation. The device is connected to the truck electronically (for instance via Bluetooth) or physically (by wire) in order to capture key data.

Connection should be on as long as the truck is in operation. Devices that could cause a break in connection due to malfunction should be avoided as it is crucial to get accurate information while the truck is on the road.

Consider cellular connection, for instance. While it is allowed, what happens when the truck goes into areas that have no cell coverage? The connection is lost; hence, no data comes in.

Device Display

Display depends on the device used but it must meet the standard requirements. There are a variety of ways to transfer data for roadside inspection purposes. The device of choice must be able to support an option that works.

Rods can be:

  • Emailed to the officer
  • Downloaded via a USB device
  • Printed if the device comes with a printer
  • Transferred via Bluetooth

Whichever means the fleet manger uses is good as long as it reaches the relevant authorities for inspection. However, the data must be in a format that is recognized.

How Long Does Submission of Data Take?

The fleet manager or driver is not expected to submit data ‘live’ so to say, or in real time. The trucks would have to be fitted with a cellular data account or a satellite. That would be quite costly in the end.

The data is expected to be submitted within 13 days. As long as the river or manager does not go beyond the 13-window, they are still within regulation. This way, owner-operators are not tasked with paying monthly charges for storing data, uploading it or accessing it.

Devices Allowed              

Electronic devices such as tablets and smartphones can be used. They must, however, be physically linked to the truck’s ECM via the dataport. The smartphone or tablet is secured to the dashboard while the truck is running. Effort should be made to ensure that the device cannot be tampered with.

The devices have apps which have the hardware needed to facilitate connection to the trucks. There are also full-scale devices available. These ones may or may not be fitted with optional and scalable fleet management solutions.

Type of Device to Purchase

Experts advise owner-operators to go for devices that work much like a logbook. The device should posses the feel and look of a logbook. There is no to go for all the fancy fittings when all that is required is for the device to be regulation compliant.

The best way to get the device that meets the legal requirements as well as meet the needs of the fleet is to eliminate all the options that are not necessary. That way, the fleet manager is able to pick a useful device without wasting time on trivialities.

What to Consider

In short, this is what owner-operators and fleet managers should be looking out for:

  • The device you choose must be regulation-compliant: It may not be easy to tell if one is or not, but if the emphasis is more on applicability rather than how many options are available, it will not be so difficult to choose. Additionally, the provider should be in a position to provide guidance
  • The device must be right: Obviously, compliance in number one on the list of priorities. Also, it should have the necessary options for the fleet and take into account future growth of the fleet as well.
  • Data protection: Data should be protected from loss or damage. Should the device get lost or get damaged, data should be retrievable. Storing it in an off-device location or cloud would be a good idea to ensure that it can be accessed via new devices if need be.

At Eyeride, we are dedicated to ensuring that you get the best devices for your fleet whether big or small. We will also ensure that your device meets all your fleet needs. Furthermore, we will be on hand to give advice with regard to compliance to regulations.

Conclusion

Owner-operators and fleet managers should be aware that it is important to ensure that their devices are compliant. For a big fleet, compliance can be verified by the IT department. Alternatively, the fleet can hire a third-party auditor to verify.

With smaller fleets that may not have the resources needed to verify compliance, owner-operators may have to take it upon themselves to ensure it but they can get the information they need from their providers.

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