Before the ELD Mandate, technology-savvy carriers had a leg-up on the competition. Now that the first ELD Mandate deadline has passed, fleets are looking for ways to extract additional value from their devices.
Whether a fleet has already implemented and trained staff on ELD technology or is considering options for migrating AOBRDs to ELDs by the second ELD Mandate deadline, it is wise to look strategically at how to achieve goals beyond ELD compliance.
ELD technology can provide many benefits, allowing fleets to stay safe and competitive — and significantly reduce operational costs. If a fleet’s sole focus is ELD compliance, it is most likely not fully leveraging its investment. Today’s most competitive fleets already understand that ELD technology can help them set, measure, and meet goals, including improving fuel efficiency, increasing driver productivity and engagement, and improving safety.
Improving Fuel Efficiency with ELDs
According to the 2018 American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) report, fuel is one of the largest costs for fleets, comprising 22 percent of total operational costs. Even at prices lower than historical highs, fuel will still have a major impact on a fleet’s bottom line. Add in the environmental concerns of high fuel utilization, and it is as important as ever to reduce fuel consumption.
Fortunately, several options exist to control fuel. With proper planning, the amount of fuel along with associated costs can be reduced.
While there are many best practices in reducing fuel, some of the major methods include idle reduction, efficient routing, and driver performance measurement.
Excessive idling burns fuel unnecessarily — up to one gallon of fuel per hour. And, one hour of idling per day for one year results in the equivalent of 64,000 miles in engine wear, according to the American Trucking Associations. Just 10 seconds of idle time wastes more fuel than restarting the engine.
Without a technology solution, fleets have no way to know exactly how much additional idling occurs. ELDs offer the ability to monitor idle time and provide reporting to fleet managers about which drivers spend the most time idling. To reduce idling costs, fleets can integrate start–stop systems to shut the engine off when it would otherwise idle and telematics systems to monitor usage parameters.
Improving fuel efficiency and cutting waste can help fleets achieve significant gains. Using idling reporting, fleet managers can identify drivers that need coaching and even employ friendly competition to drive down fuel costs. Many fleets also create goals and incentives to reward drivers for good behavior.
Out-of-route miles can contribute to up to 15 percent of a vehicle’s fuel consumption with the cost per mile in the U.S. averaging $1.59, according to ATRI. While there will always be events that cause out-of-route miles, fleets can help reduce unplanned miles and reduce fuel expenditures by ensuring that vehicles are operating on the best routes.
Some ELD providers offer integrated routing software. With automated routing, fleets can suggest routes for unassigned or new customers. When adding a customer on a specific route, managers can see the impact that will have on the driver’s service time. Even with similar routes week to week, they could change based on customer orders — and routing software finds the best path to drive down the cost to deliver.
Driver Performance Measurement
Many fleets would like to coach drivers on the best practices in saving fuel. But knowing the key metrics to measure, as well as how to interpret them, can be a challenge. Some ELD providers offer applications that not only measure, but compare drivers, allowing fleets to incentivize the top performers and coach the bottom performers. In addition, these applications provide tangible ways to help fleets improve driver behavior.
Using driver and unit scorecards, fleet managers can view times in top gear, over-speeding, cruise control, shift patterns, and more — leading to better fuel optimization and improved performance. Managers can segment those habits believed to create poor fuel economy and identify them on a dashboard. The data helps identify root causes of bad driving habits and which drivers need more education or training.
Increasing Driver Productivity and Engagement
Today’s driver has responsibilities that extend well beyond driving — from maintenance to data entry to out-of-cab tasks and regulatory requirements. ELDs can help with productivity outside of the cab, driver workflow, automated IFTA reporting, and more.
Tasks such as Vehicle Inspection Reports and signature capture need to be completed outside of the cab. However, ELDs can help to make these processes easier through out-of-cab productivity applications that allow drivers to electronically inspect vehicles, capture signatures, and complete many other tasks that would normally require cumbersome paperwork.
Anything that allows drivers to spend more time on their core job, instead of completing all of the administrative tasks that land on their plates, is valuable for fleets. One such example is driver workflow, which allows fleets to automate driver tasks, reducing the potential of human error and increasing both fleet and driver productivity.
Fleets have enough to worry about without dealing with the hassle of an International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) audit. The requirements of consolidating and reconciling this information into an IFTA filing each quarter demand a lot of resources. Some ELD providers offer applications that automate the IFTA process, saving fleets and drivers time and frustration.
With all of the challenges fleets have in keeping good drivers, they need to find ways to improve the driver experience. Decreasing paperwork and workload can help to increase driver satisfaction, but it is only one part. Technology solutions can help to bring the comforts of our everyday lives into the cab and help drivers feel more connected. Some examples of these technologies include web browsing, which keeps drivers connected with the latest information from the back office, and media delivery, which allows fleets to deliver training materials and updates electronically to drivers while out in the field.
Every fleet wants to increase safety and mitigate risk — but risk that you cannot see is risk that you cannot manage. With effective driver coaching and the right use of data, fleets can help prevent incidents and accidents — and increase safety.
Fleet managers who continuously monitor risk will help prevent more safety incidents and accidents from occurring. Fortunately, ELDs can provide a lot of data to inform better driving. Applications such as critical event reporting and speed and tire monitoring can help improve safety.
Critical event reporting gives fleet managers visibility to see risk before it becomes a bigger issue. Onboard sensors let managers know when events such as hard braking, follow time violations, and forward collision occur. Some in-cab video solutions are also fully integrated with critical event reporting.
Speeding is the biggest contributing factor to accidents and is also the easiest driver behavior to control. Speed monitoring applications allow you to see exactly when and where drivers speed, so you can identify at-risk drivers and reduce speeding incident frequency.
Improper tire inflation can not only decrease MPG, but it can also lead to safety hazards. Access to real-time monitoring and reporting on tire inflation can help fleet managers take quick action to fix tire-related issues before they become a significant problem.
Enhancing Vehicle Productivity
It is as important to optimize vehicles as it is driver productivity. Many of the factors that help decrease fuel costs also assist with increasing vehicle productivity. In addition, one of the major costs for fleets has to do with fleet maintenance.
Since vehicles are often on the road away from maintenance centers for long periods of time, it is difficult to ensure they are in optimal shape. Fault Monitoring applications monitor thousands of faults and provide near real-time notifications in the event a fault does occur. With this level of insight into the vehicle, fleets can quickly diagnose and fix problems before they become severe.
Fleets need to look at what they want to accomplish beyond ELD compliance. An ELD provider such as Omnitracs offers a wealth of applications that help fleets improve fuel efficiency, increase driver productivity and engagement, improve safety, and much more.