Nov 24, 2017

What Is ELD? Electronic Logging Device

What Is ELD?  Electronic Logging Device

It’s no exaggeration to say that electronic logging devices (ELDs) are a literal must-have for your commercial fleet. When paired with high-quality fleet management software (like Fullbay, for example), these devices will lower your risk of crashes, enhance your fleet’s overall efficiency, and simplify your approach to recordkeeping. Plus, there’s a good chance that you need to use ELDs to comply with federal law.

But what is an electronic logging device, anyway? Well, one thing’s for sure—we’re not telling you in the intro. Instead, you’ll need to keep reading to learn about ELDs and how they can make life easier for you and your drivers.

What Is an Electronic Logging Device?

Just ask anyone who’s spent time in the cyberforest—traditional logging equipment is no match for carbon fiber oaks and steel cedars. For this work, you’ll need to use electronic logging devices like hover-harvesters, plasma chainsaws, an—

*checks notes*

Never mind! Wrong type of logging.

ELDs are all about logging data. These products keep track of crucial statistics about both commercial drivers and the vehicles they drive by connecting to a vehicle’s engine.

Features and Functionalities of ELDs

Are you curious about the various functions of ELDs? Sure you are. Why wouldn’t you be? Some of the most important features offered by these devices include:

  • Driving hour tracking. One of the most critical tasks ELDs handle is recording driving time. By doing this, ELDs make it simple to find out a driver’s hours of service (HOS).
  • Vehicle diagnostics/maintenance integration. Setting up an ELD shouldn’t be hard. These devices get necessary information by hooking up to a truck’s onboard diagnostics port.
  • Communication with fleet management systems. To make it as easy as possible for you to access their info, ELDs can also integrate with fleet management software.

Benefits of Using Electronic Logging Devices

When your drivers start using ELDs, it won’t be long before you notice the difference. Specifically, you’ll benefit from:

Improved Safety and Reduced Accidents

Each year, crashes related to drowsy driving cause roughly 50,000 injuries and 800 fatalities. As valued team members, your drivers need to get enough rest between jobs—and the data tracked by ELDs can prevent this from becoming an issue.

Increased Efficiency and Productivity

Drivers using traditional logbooks spend hours each year completing these logs and getting them verified. In contrast, ELDs automatically track this information—allowing your drivers to focus on their job duties instead.

Streamlined Recordkeeping and Reporting

If your shop has switched to digital recordkeeping, you don’t need us to tell you how much time you’ve saved since you stopped using the old-fashioned method. The same applies to electronic logging devices, especially when you use them with the right fleet maintenance program (like Fullbay, for example).

Compliance and Regulations

Along with the perks listed above, there’s one other benefit that comes with electronic logging devices—if you don’t use them, you’ll probably end up violating federal mandates! Actually, that one is less of a “benefit” and more of a “requirement.” Good thing it has its own section!

Legal restrictions on driver activity are nothing new; in fact, laws limiting HOS have been on the books since 1938. The federal government’s ELD mandate effectively serves as a modernized version of those laws—it requires drivers who have previously maintained records of duty status to do so with an ELD.

The ELD mandate applies to most commercial drivers in the US. Specific exemptions aside, this mandate affects anyone who professionally drives a vehicle that:

  • Weighs at least 10,001 pounds
  • Has a gross combination weight rating/gross vehicle weight rating of at least 10,001 pounds
  • Is intended to transport 16 or more people (driver included) without compensation
  • Is intended to transport nine or more people (driver included) with compensation
  • Is used to transport hazardous materials in such a way that it requires placards

The data collected from ELDs is used to enforce the FMCSA’s HOS regulations. These regulations cover:

  • Driving limits. Property-carrying drivers can travel up to 11 hours after spending ten consecutive hours off duty. Meanwhile, passenger-carrying drivers can drive no more than 10 hours after spending eight consecutive hours off duty.
  • Hour limits. Drivers may not drive past their 14th consecutive hour on duty after ten consecutive hours off duty (if they’re carrying property) or if they’ve been on duty for 15 hours after spending eight consecutive hours off duty (if they’re carrying passengers). Furthermore, drivers may not drive after spending more than 60/70 hours on duty over seven/eight consecutive days.
  • Provisions for sleeper berth use. Property-carrying drivers are permitted to split their mandatory 10-hour period off duty if one of these periods lasts at least two hours and the other includes at least seven consecutive hours spent in the sleeper berth. Passenger-carrying drivers must spend at least eight hours in their sleeper berth, though they can split that time into two periods if both periods last two hours or longer.
  • Extensions for adverse driving conditions. Drivers can extend their maximum driving limits and hour limits by up to two hours while dealing with inclement weather.
  • Short-haul exceptions. If they operate within a 150-mile radius of their work reporting location, drivers may be exempt from some requirements included in the mandate.

Challenges and Considerations

While Electronic Logging Devices are helpful (and, in many cases, mandatory), you can still run into trouble when using them. These are some of the most common challenges related to ELDs:

Bluetooth Connectivity Issues

Not every driver uses a dedicated ELD for logging hours; some people use a phone or tablet with an ELD app instead. But these apps rely on Bluetooth to function, which means they can be less than reliable. The consequences of Bluetooth connectivity problems range from frustrating delays to potential losses of driver log updates.

Avoiding this issue is as simple as investing in a standalone, hard-wired ELD unit, as this will give you the best possible connectivity between the unit and the vehicle. At the same time, these units will eliminate the risk of your drivers using their phones behind the wheel for ELD.

Spotty Wireless Coverage

Bluetooth isn’t the only type of wireless connection that can cause ELD problems. Most phones and tablets rely on a single wireless carrier for communication; when that network doesn’t cover an area where drivers travel, you could have trouble locating vehicles, transferring data, or updating logs.

The best way to mitigate this problem is to look for ELD technology that can connect to multiple networks. That way, you’ll have the best possible chance of being able to access a wireless signal anywhere you go.

Data Transfer Problems During Inspections

When your drivers go through roadside inspections, they’ll need to be able to share their log information with enforcement officials. Typically, this involves a data transfer from their ELD to Electronic Record of Duty Status (eRODS) software. If this transfer doesn’t go as planned, a driver can hand their ELD to the inspector or give them a paper printout. Still, eRODS transfer problems are time-consuming and frustrating.

Before you choose an electronic logging device, ask suppliers about their devices’ eRODS transfer success rate and make sure they offer data coverage on your standard routes. And since no ELD can successfully transfer data 100 percent of the time, be sure to let your drivers know about the fallback solutions they can use in a jam.

Subpar Supplier Support

Another ELD problem that commercial drivers often face is a lack of support from device suppliers. Many companies active in this field rushed in as quickly as possible due to the federal mandate. Because of that, they haven’t always taken the time to worry about minor details like “offering quality service,” “meeting consumer demand,” and “understanding the transportation industry.”

Fortunately, that’s not the case for every company selling ELDs—you’ll just have to do some research to find suppliers that are worth your while. When talking to businesses that offer ELDs, ask them about their approach to service and support (including hard numbers on their “time to answer” and “time to resolution”). Along with that, look for online reviews of any ELD suppliers you’re seriously considering.

Future Trends in ELD Technology

Thanks to the federal ELD mandate, these products will continue to be a part of the transportation field for the foreseeable future. And if you’re buying one or more of these devices today, you won’t need to worry too much about the network it uses. ELDs relying on 3G connectivity were rendered obsolete by the 3G sunset in 2022, but 4G networks aren’t going anywhere for now—these networks should stick around until 2030 or later.

Are you interested in future-proofing your ELDs as much as possible? If so, it’s a good idea to look for devices that are compatible with 5G networks—AKA the newest, fastest mobile networks out there.

Of course, the future holds many other potential innovations for electronic logging devices. While 5G is currently the “gold standard” for mobile networks, the eventual advent of 6G networks will offer even speedier service. And someday, you could store your drivers’ ELD inspection histories in a blockchain for quick, secure access.

As if that wasn’t enough, a time may come when you’ll be able to buy virtual ELDs and use them in the metaverse. That way, your drivers can track their hours when they need to…transport digital items…in a truck? You know what, this one doesn’t count. Forget we said anything.

Like Fullbay, For Example

Electronic logging devices are crucial for commercial fleets, and technological advances like these bring so much benefit to fleet managers, drivers, and everyone else sharing the road. Alongside things like smart trailers, there’s so many exciting things to look forward to in the industry!

And speaking of technologically advanced things that make your life better, have you heard about Fullbay? Maybe you’ve recently been on our blog to read a really cool article about ELDs?

We were literally built to help fleet managers and heavy-duty repair shops keep trucks and overall shop operations organized, efficient, and safe. Fullbay can deliver quick estimate and invoice creation, convenient inventory management, enhanced customer communication, and many other valuable features. To learn more about what Fullbay can do for you, schedule a free demo today!

Emilie Vecera