The safety of drivers and other vehicles on roads was the primary reason ELDs were mandated last year. Fortuitously, there have been some welcome benefits that were not expected, benefitting fleet owners. While some are still trying to get around having to use ELDs, they are not going anywhere.
Tighter and more profitable delivery schedules
“Many shippers are becoming more enlightened to the issues related to capacity constraints and are demonstrating a willingness to work with their carriers to speed up delivery at their facilities, provide a safe, clean environment and treat drivers with more respect,” said Taylor Howerton, head of SunTrust Bank’s logistics & supply chain industry vertical.
“Continued delays at the docks, inaccurate information regarding time and destination, or any issue that may cause a driver to sit waiting for a load longer than they should is going to cause carriers to look elsewhere for loads. This market has way more freight than capacity, which will help carriers procure faster freight at higher margins.”
Will Salter, CEO of Paragon Software Systems, which provides routing and scheduling software used by global transportation operations, noted that implementing advanced routing and scheduling software can bring savings of 10-30% in freight operations. The greater variety of data you can feed into it, the more money you are likely to save.
“For example, you might have planned for a 20-minute stop at a delivery location, but the stop is consistently taking 90 minutes,” he said.
“Feeding that data back into future plans improves the process. Ideally, to continually maximize route planning efficiency, you establish a constant feedback loop on any given route, taking captured data — whether it’s simply hours driven or tracking information — and adjusting the next route plan accordingly, over and over. In other words, integrating vehicle tracking systems with routing and scheduling software is a good way to achieve visibility and future efficiency.”
Truck maintenance and other savings
“As more carriers begin to share data from their ELDs, there is greater overall visibility into the supply chain, which benefits everyone from driver to consumer,” said Eric Witty, vice president of product at Trimble Transportation, which provides integrated onboard computing and mobile communications systems enabling fleets to get data-driven business intelligence.
“The accuracy of the data used to make decisions and move freight is leading to better performance and productivity for all.
“In addition, most ELD systems are capable of capturing data on vehicle performance, faults, and efficiency as well as driver behavior, performance, and efficiency. The opportunities for gain beyond basic ELD functionality include vehicle fault management and maintenance, fuel tax data capture, vehicle fuel efficiency, visibility of vehicles/load location, and automated load ETA information for customers,” he continued.
“Some of these items might fall into the category of ‘intended’ uses of ELDs, but since many are purchasing ELDs simply to be compliant, those users gain many other helpful benefits in turn.”
In the opinion of Ozzie Flores, marketing and product manager, Teletrac Navman, which provides cloud-based GPS fleet-tracking software, fleets that adopted a basic ELD system ahead of the deadline were taking steps to be compliant, but those systems don’t necessarily offer the same wide-reaching capabilities as a more robust telematics solution, or ELDs integrated with fleet management software.
“As fleets get more comfortable with their technology and data, it’s likely they’ll look for more areas throughout their entire fleet and organization for improvements and efficiency gains,” he said. “These add-on features or fleet management technology systems can allow a fleet to monitor things like driver speed, driver performance, idling, harsh braking, maintenance, fuel usage, engine hours, and more.
“Data-driven insight into idling, distance traveled, and fuel usage can help a fleet make decisions about fuel expenditures while monitoring driver behaviors and can enable fleet and maintenance managers to create preventive maintenance programs,” Flores continued. “As fleets see the advantages and ROI, they can work directly with telematics partners to identify other use cases as well.”
“We have seen a lot of fleets that initially explored low-end ELD tools eventually opt for full-featured ELD solutions that provide more value over the long term,” noted Brian McCoy, vice president, MiX Telematics. “They have a bigger up-front investment but which can pay for themselves over time in the form of improved safety, lower fuel and insurance costs, and higher efficiency.”