What is an ELD and what is Electronic Logging?

ELD Tablet

Although they have been a hot topic in the technology field for the last couple years, some people are still wondering what exactly an electronic logging device is. An electronic logging device, or ELD, is an in-cab device that records critical data on vehicle movement, vehicle status and driver status. Data is collected on hours of service (HOS), engine runtime and idle time and vehicle reports are shared to a web-based counterpart in the home office.

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How can you use logging devices?

By now you have probably heard all about the new HOS regulations that went into effect this past summer, so staying compliant is more important than ever. The most common use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) is to track HOS. In the past, many companies have completed this process by only using paper logs.

This was not only time-consuming for the drivers, but also for the office staff that had to review them and enter the hours into a database. The ELDs automatically send all driver information to the database where it can easily be reviewed and processed on the computer.

Integrated with GPS capabilities, turn-by-turn directions are available to get drivers to and from a job in less time and less miles, maximizing route efficiency. The ELD can also be used to quickly and easily complete Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIR), roadside inspections, fuel purchase forms and capture signatures. The tablet can be removed from the cab to breeze through inspections, and the device can be expanded for work order and dispatching capabilities.

Why Drivers Love ELDs...

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Switching from paper logs to electronic logs can seem very intimidating to drivers and they will have reservations. Many drivers feel like ELDs are just another way for big brother to look over their shoulder. However, we found that once drivers started using ELDs, they feel very differently. After the initial resistance, drivers start to realize that using an ELD actually saves them time and makes their job easier. Here are just a few reasons why drivers like using ELDs:

  • Reduce paperwork and reporting time – With ELDs and a Pedigree’s Fleet Management, diagnostic information pulled from the engine help drivers automatically record their HOS. ELDs ensure all hours are accurate and error free so they can be used as a solid defense when asked to drive more hours than available
  • Stay FMCSA compliant – When compliance is not met, penalties and fines arise and question the integrity of the entire business. When nearing the on-duty limit, automated alarms are triggered on the device, ensuring drivers can find a place to pull over in time.
  • Add driving time to your day – With paper logs, drivers had to round up in 15-minute increments, which can lead to lost driving time. With ELDs, drivers are able to record HOS down to the minute, adding more driving time to the day. With the elimination of paper logs, this accuracy can lead to an additional five to 10 hours of driving each week.
  • Breeze through inspections – The hassle of completing manual paperwork when conducting a DVIR before each trip is tedious and time consuming. With an ELD, drivers can easily and quickly complete inspections electronically. By completing these tasks on a tablet or Smartphone, paperwork will never be misplaced and the home office won’t have to wait days to receive it. Also, the in-cab device can be used in the event of traffic stops to help officers quickly see any log violations and be on their way.
  • Stay in touch with the home office – Relying on cell phones to communicate with drivers is unsafe and in some cases illegal. Some ELD systems provide two-way messaging between the driver and home office to be used only when the vehicle is not operating, to meet FMCSA compliance. Utilizing dispatching with the ELDs allows you to make real-time updates to stops and communicate with customers more accurately.
  • Recreational use of mobile devices – When drivers are out on a long trip, there is often a lot of downtime. During these times, drivers can stay entertained by watching a movie or playing a game, as well as keep in touch with family, when utilizing a non-proprietary device.

Choosing a System That's Right for You

First and foremost, you want to make sure the ELD meets all FMCSA requirements and is future-ready. Second, bear in mind that implementing an ELD is more than just putting an electronic device in your trucks and vehicles. Everyone that plans on using an ELD needs to embrace the change and be ready to learn the new system. Next, find a company that will partner with you in the process of installation and system use, not one that sets you up with an easy fix then turns the other way. Lastly, carefully look into the hardware and avoid proprietary devices. Purchasing a device that only runs ELD software from a provider will paint you into a corner, when a non-proprietary device gives greatly functionality.

Myths & Hesitations

Many companies feel that ELDs are an invasion of privacy to drivers. However, we found that after the initial resistance, many drivers realized that EOBRs actually take less effort on their part and can be used as a solid defense when asked to drive more hours than is legal. There is also the misconception that ELDs will cost more time and money to implement than they will save. But the opposite is true. Paper logbooks are recorded in 15-minute increments, and ELDs record down to the minute, saving a driver time, and that’s not even considering the time saved from not filling out the paper logs each day. The cost of implementing ELDs is much less than most realize, and the ROI is so rapid that most businesses wish they had put a system in place long ago.

Benefits of ELDs

There are many benefits your company and drivers get from using ELDs. They include:

  • Increased Safety Scores – With ELDs, you can boost your company’s safety score, as well as provide a safer driving environment for employees. Systems provide real-time reports on speed, mileage, stops and engine diagnostics, as well as alert drivers when it’s nearing the end of their driving time. This can make a significant impact on your company’s overall safety score, leading to lower insurance premiums and increased profits.
  • Reduce Errors and Improve Accuracy – Electronic driver logs save drivers time and prevent errors in their paperwork. The real-time, up-to-date information provided from an ELD is always correct and electronically stored data is never lost. Spending less time on paper work and more time on the road puts more money in your bottom line.
  • Reduce HOS Violations and Improve Driver Behavior – These violations are typically not dealt with until it’s too late, which in turn leads to company penalties and fines. ELDs automatically notify both the driver and office staff when nearing the end of the 11-hour driving limit, as well as the 14-hour on-duty limit. The GPS tracking capabilities allow drivers to map out safe stops in advance, so violations do not occur.
  • Improve Driver Behavior – If you couple ELDs with fleet tracking solutions, data on reckless driving behaviors, like fatigued driving, speeding and incorrect logs, can be pulled. With this information, address problems and coach bad habits to prevent penalties.