FEATURES - Cover Story
April 20, 2017

What You Need to Know About the Electronic Logging Mandate

By Special Guest
Willy Schlacks, president and co-founder, EquipmentShare

There’s a new regulation headed for the trucking and construction industries which will introduce many in the space to the Internet of Things.

The Electronic Logging Device mandate, introduced by the The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, will get rid of the paper logbooks and manual reporting that’s currently completed by commercial truck drivers and construction equipment operators. And instead, under this new rule, drivers will be required to prove hours of service compliance using ELDs by Dec. 18, 2017.

Change can be uncomfortable, especially when it’s mandated industry-wide. But as a long-time contractor myself, I believe this mandate ushers in a great opportunity for contractors and fleet owners to use telematics technology to harness data and improve their business intelligence.

And as contractors and fleet owners look for solutions to help reach ELD compliance, it’s important to understand that the right telematics solutions can do much more than log hours of service. A plethora of data sits dormant inside heavy equipment and other vehicles, and telematics technology is the solution to uncover the wealth of information for improving the health, utilization, and security of that equipment.

As we come closer to the ELD deadline, there are some lurking misconceptions about this mandate. Here I’ll tackle those myths and take a look at how the introduction of IoT technology, in the form of telematics, can help usher in a new data-driven era that will help construction and trucking businesses make smarter decisions. This mandate affects both the construction and the trucking industries. There’s a ton of information out there about how the ELD mandate will affect the trucking industry. But it’s important to note that the construction industry will also be affected.

In fact, contractors that manage equipment and vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds will also be required to adopt ELDs by the December deadline. And it’s important to note that the best solutions for each of these industries are a bit different. For example, the telematics systems built for the trucking industry focus on higher level, aggregated data that can be used specifically for hours of service compliance. On the other hand, contractors and heavy equipment owners are more often than not managing mixed fleets – not just trucks. So they need a deeper level of data. Aside from basic data like driver identification, date, miles and total hours of duty, the best mixed-fleet telematics solutions allow contractors to retrieve equipment data, utilization rates, driver scorecards, and engine data across the entire fleet. These types of insights can save time and money on maintenance, as well as help fleet owners quickly see the utilization of each piece of equipment. With many years of contracting experience myself, I’d look at this new mandate as a blessing considering the amount of data you’ll be able to retrieve on your fleet.

It’s better than the current logging method. There are many flaws with the traditional paper logging systems, such as wasted time and errors. And, in my opinion, inaccurate data is worse than no data at all. Additionally, those contractors and truckers currently using Automatic On Board Recording Devices are grandfathered in under the mandate only through Dec.16, 2019. After that, all contractors and drivers must use ELDs to log all hours of service moving forward. It’s time for a much-needed update that will provide greater efficiency and long-term benefits. It can lead you to a better return on investment. It’s also important to look past just electronic logging to understand the true benefits of telematics. In fact, the telematics solutions powering ELD technology gives insight into equipment that goes beyond surface level, including visibility into the health of their machinery and usage data. And as any contractor and vehicle manager knows, these vehicles don’t come cheap, which is why proper maintenance and utilization of machines is so important. With the right telematics solution, owners will be able to gauge asset usage and see where utilization can be improved – providing a higher ROI on their equipment.

Come December 2017, purchasing and implementing ELD technology for construction and trucking fleets will be inevitable. And to this point, it’s smart to embrace this new change with open arms – using the mandate to your advantage.

For example, engine data provided by telematics systems can help contractors cut unnecessary costs and take a proactive approach to maintenance by preventing costly repairs and breakdowns. And most importantly, telematics allows the ability to uncover underutilized assets, helping owners make the decision to either rent or sell idle equipment to make even more profit.

And it’s probably easier than you think. While telematics and ELD technology may seem confusing at first glance, the truth is the best telematics products are turnkey. ELDs and telematics solutions are meant to do the work for you – tracking, recording, and analyzing the equipment data you need in real time. Online dashboards provided by the telematics solutions organize large amounts of complex data in an easy-to-understand and useful manner. And a number of solutions will automatically make recommendations on upcoming maintenance as well as what assets are currently underutilized – even making suggestions on how you can increase utilization moving forward.

Contractors and truckers that understand the larger benefits of telematics solutions, beyond ELD compliance, will come out on top. It’s important to know you can make these new rules work for you by choosing a telematics solution that will not only allow you to fulfill ELD requirements, but allow you to make the most of your investment. By doing so, your investment will give you richer, more useful data – helping you achieve efficient asset management, make cost-saving changes, and increase the overall utilization of your equipment.

Willy Schlacks is president and co-founder of construction technology company EquipmentShare (https://equipmentshare.com). 

Edited by Ken Briodagh

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