Making a smooth transition to ELDs

When implementing electronic logging devices (ELD) to comply with the Canadian mandate set to take effect in June, focus not only on what they can do for hours-of-service compliance, but also how they can improve your fleet performance.

That was the message from Marc Moncion, vice-president of safety and regulatory compliance with Fleet Complete, who on Jan. 21 delivered a webinar on making a smooth transition to ELDs.

He urged fleets to develop a vision statement, which outlines how they would like to improve their fleet over the next five, 10 years or more. If your company already has a vision statement, Moncion said the implementation of ELDs offers a good opportunity to dust it off and refresh it.

“If you don’t have a vision, here is the time to put pen to paper and draft a vision that shapes the direction of your company for years to come,” Moncion said.

If properly implemented, Moncion said, ELDs can go far beyond an hours-of-service tool and can produce data that can then be used to improve fleet operations. Examining that data can allow fleets to adjust their operations to improve profitability.

“Imagine a future world where your ELD investments give you a competitive advantage in the marketplace,” he said.

Revelations coming from the analysis of ELD data could lead a fleet to change its routing, service different clientele, expand to or pull out of a specific region, modify their lengths of haul, or change the equipment they run. A vision statement that encapsulates these goals should be shared throughout the company and championed by people within the organization.

“Creating a vision statement and letting it collect dust on the shelf won’t cut it,” Moncion said, adding it should be a living document.

When transitioning to ELDs, Moncion said it’s important to communicate changes to customers who will have to understand the implications on load planning.

“Explain the challenges,” he said. “What they expected in the past – drivers performing small miracles to move freight – is not going to be the case going forward.”

Canadian fleets are met with a unique challenge in complying with the ELD mandate – devices must be third-party certified, and not a single device has gone through that process. Moncion said Fleet Complete and its subsidiary Big Road are “in the queue” to be certified by FPInnovations, the sole source provider of certification.

He suggested fleets already using an ELD ask their vendor if they will be submitting that product for certification, and whether any updates for the Canadian regulation will be available through over-the-air update. For those sourcing a new ELD, ask if it will be a smooth integration with your fleet’s existing transportation management system (TMS).

Factor in the timeline required to get the devices installed, and drivers and operations trained. Time has pretty much run out to conduct a pilot before the June 12 deadline, Moncion acknowledged.

He also advised choosing a product that will offer more than electronic logging, such as driver vehicle inspection reporting, for example. Drivers and shippers need to be educated on the devices’ nuances.

“Thirteen hours doesn’t mean 13 hours and 12 seconds,” said Moncion, noting drivers have to better plan where to make their stops. “The ELD will not use discretion.”

Shippers and receivers should be urged to reduce detention time to help drivers stay compliant, and load planners need to ensure they’re sourcing the right types of loads at the right time.

“This dialogue should begin well before implementation,” said Moncion.

Drivers should be informed of the benefits of ELDs, and also given an avenue to voice concerns or grievances.

“Drivers need to know what they have to do when an ELD malfunctions.”

Marc Moncion, Fleet Complete

“Listen to what they’re saying and follow up,” he suggested, adding some fleets offer an anonymous suggestion box. He also said managers could get better acquainted with the devices by installing them in their own vehicles to see first-hand what drivers are working with.

All drivers and staff should be given their ELD vendor’s contact information, which should provide 24/7 support. Policies should be put into place to ensure consistent expectations across the fleet. Be prepared for malfunctions and understand how to manage them, Moncion added.

“Drivers need to know what they have to do when an ELD malfunctions.”

It’s different in Canada than in the U.S.; here, drivers will be permitted to use paper logs for a maximum of 14 days in the event of an ELD malfunction. The carrier will be expected to document the malfunction – when it occurred and the nature of the failure, as well as actions taken to address the failure. Those records must be maintained for six months.

In-cab documentation will be required, including an ELD information packet and user guide.

Drivers will have to be able to convey to enforcement officers how the devices work, and to display and email their logs. Training will also be required on how to correct logging errors, while complying with editing requirements under the regulation.

Yard moves and personal conveyance are other areas of confusion, which will require driver training. Fleet managers and dispatchers must be aware ELDs cannot be used to harass or coerce drivers – this is illegal in the U.S. and Moncion says there is similar language in the regulations here.

Finally, Moncion suggested fleets analyze the data generated by the ELD, set new key performance indicators, and celebrate top-performing drivers, all as a way to improving fleet performance.

“A lot of carriers get a significant amount of data,” he said. “It’s how you manage the data once you get access to it. Celebrate victories. Showcase your best drivers and coach those who need it.”