There are plenty of providers of electronic logging devices, or ELDs, as they're called, in the market. However, truckers know that not all devices are created equal, and finding the best ELD for owner-operators of commercial vehicles will require some research and comparison.
If you're in search of an ELD provider for your company, here's everything you need to know about finding the best piece of tracking hardware for truckers.
Do Owner-Operators Need ELDs?
The Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Rule is a U.S. federal government regulation stipulating the use of devices that will record detailed data on the operation of a commercial vehicle and the driver's activities, particularly the hours of service (HOS). This rule was implemented to ensure the safety of commercial fleet drivers.
An ELD replaces the paper logs and the automatic on-board recording device to minimize errors, miscalculations, or attempted manipulation of HOS records.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) ELD mandate covers the following commercial motor vehicles operations:
- Commercial motor vehicles with interstate routes that are required to maintain a record of duty status (RODS)
- Trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds
- Rigs carrying placarded hazmat loads
- Vehicles carrying anywhere between 8 to 15 passengers
What is the Best ELD for Owner-Operators?
It's inadvisable to simply pick any ELD available on the market. You should perform adequate research on the choices available before pulling the trigger. Here are the factors to watch out for when choosing the best ELD for owner-operators.
According to the rules implemented by the FMCSA, ELDs must be self-certified. This means that the device's manufacturer has registered its own ELD and certified that it complies with all the technical specifications of the ELD mandate.
It is best for companies to check the FMCSA's list of registered ELDs. The process of checking is simple; just enter the name of the vendor in the search bar of the list. If the solution is registered, then those searching the list will see the manufacturer's device name, software version, model number, and contact information.
Reputable and Reliable Manufacturer
When companies choose an ELD, they are choosing not only a device but also a business partner. Hence, it is also essential to know more about the vendor before procuring your ELDs. Here's what companies need to look for when choosing their ELD partner.
- Company organization
- Number of years in business
- List of clients
- Customer references
- Commitment to research and development
- Security policies
- Solution partners
A commercial fleet may have different vehicle types: van, light-duty, bucket truck, box truck, or tractor truck. Some fleets can also have electric vehicles or use alternative fuel.
It is best to look for an ELD that can be used in any vehicle type or class. A universal solution is ideal, as it can minimize costs in different ways. First, drivers and employees don't have to be trained in multiple solutions and installations. Second, a universal device that works across all vehicles in a fleet reduces the complexity of the whole ELD solution.
Easy To Install
Companies often fail to realize that the speed of installation also affects the ELD implementation within the organization. A complex installation process can consume significant time and resources. Choosing a plug-and-play solution means simplifying the installation process.
Simple to Operate
Operators and owners must stay away from ELDs that are tricky to operate and maintain since drivers have other vital things to attend to on the road. An intuitive device is highly recommended, as it will reduce the burden on the drivers who will be using them. Additionally, a complicated interface isn't great for drivers, because it can jeopardize compliance with the HOS rules.
Drivers must be able to easily update their status, complete their vehicle inspections, and generate a compliance report during roadside inspections.
Compatibility With Smartphones
It's also best to get an ELD that can be used with a tablet or smartphone since drivers will find it easier to use the ELD if they can be operated using devices they're already familiar with.
Easy to Upgrade
The ELD rules are not static. As such, the devices must be responsive to regulatory changes as well. Otherwise, companies will have to shell out money to replace existing ELDs when new rules are rolled out.
ELDs come with different features and a variety of price points. It is important for companies to take the time to research the devices and manufacturers before investing across the fleet. When selecting the best ELD for owner-operators, it's important to choose one that's universal, easy-to-use, has robust integration support, and is certified and made by a vendor with a good track record. Doing so will result in better compliance with ELD rules, enhanced data collection, and reduced costs.