ELD Switch 101: A guide to running your trucking operation
Welcome to ELD Switch 101, a five-week series where we covered a wide array of important topics concerning the mandatory switch from AOBRD to ELD.
The switch from AOBRD to ELD is going to fundamentally change how most companies function on a day-to-day basis.
While many companies may switch with just a tap of a button, that does not account for all the new information that’ll be necessary to know in order to smoothly transition from AOBRD to ELD. Drivers, dispatchers, and your entire operation will need to know how electronic logging devices will change the landscape of the trucking industry.
According to Freight Waves data, 7 to 10 percent of small carriers are still using AOBRDs, with 24 percent of them also saying they don’t plan to switch until December, which can be a problematic way to transition into an electronic logging device system for some companies.
Finding a way to efficiently switch should be a priority, as the switch—as simple as it seems—will require a plethora of training. The fact is, a sizeable amount of hours of service citations are due, in part, to drivers not knowing how their system functions.
Knowing the basics, like accessing logbooks for an inspector, will go a long way for drivers to grasp their changing duties. Nevertheless, they’ll need to understand the full scope of the device if they want to avoid needless violations.
Whether it’s knowing how to find an ELD that’s compliant, the different start-up speeds, data recording, or the effect on roadside inspections, drivers should have some insight on the different aspects that the device will have an impact on.
As a carrier/company, you should be prioritizing the training of your fleet, as it can have a serious financial impact on your business. Making sure that drivers are informed of the changes can save you thousands of dollars, especially early into 2020.
As recommended by providers such as GPSTab, the best course of action is to start with one driver, sooner rather than later. Instead of dealing with numerous concerns from a fleet of 20 or 30 drivers, you can work out issues or concerns by starting with one.
And of course, it isn’t plausible to believe the training will 100 percent work for every driver. In order to make sure that drivers can continue to be compliant on the road, you can supplement your training by providing them with useful resources for them to use.
These resources include user manuals, instructions on transferring logs, a malfunction code explainer, and a minimum of eight blank paper logs. That should be more than enough to answer some of their frequently asked questions, hopefully saving them from unnecessary violations.
Nonetheless, drivers aren’t the only ones who’ll be greatly affected, as dispatchers will also have a big role to play when the ELD mandate goes into effect.
While adjusting to the new technology, dispatchers should also start planning loads in advance more frequently. By allowing a buffer of a few days or so to plan loads, both dispatchers and drivers give themselves some leeway in case of any issues.
Dispatchers will also need to keep a close eye on their drivers’ hours of service, as they’ll need to sporadically advise them.
One of the scenarios you may find yourself in is having your driver’s sacrifice some of their on-duty time to make it up later. Let’s say a driver got stuck at a receiver for 4 hours, and they now only have 2 hours left on their clock while being 4 hours away from their destination.
They can run out their clock and get a little closer, but by the time they take off in the morning, they might be met with yet another couple hours of traffic, which can make them late.
As a knowledgeable dispatcher, you should be able to foresee potential issues such as early morning traffic and advise your driver appropriately. In the aforementioned example, the dispatcher could have advised his driver to go on sleeper instead of driving for two hours, where he can get back on the road 2 hours earlier in the morning and skip the traffic jam.
In the end, losing two hours may well allow him to actually gain more hours the next day since the driver no longer has to sit in traffic for a long period of time.
In addition to planning ahead, companies as a whole may need to experiment with entirely new operating models in order to adjust to some of the confines of ELD.
One creative plan that some have experimented with is combining local drivers with OTR drivers to drop off a load. Here is an example that can work for carriers with bigger fleets:
Let’s say you’re a carrier that needs to get your product from Chicago to New York. To complete the drop-off, you use three drivers: 2 local ones and one OTR. It’s important to remember that local drivers aren’t required to use ELDs like OTR drivers are.
You can have one of your local drivers use their 11-hour driving time to wait at the receiver (which can be anywhere from 2-6 hours), and then they can take the load as far as they can to drop it off to your one OTR driver.
Since the OTR driver doesn’t have to wait to be loaded, they can use the bulk of their on-duty time to drive to New York, where they’ll drop the load off to your other local driver.
Then, you can have your second local driver complete the drop-off, where they’ll use their 11-hour clock to drive and wait to be unloaded. By doing this, your operation as a whole would not be forced to abide by some of the constraints of an ELD, as none of your drivers would have to worry about their hours of service potentially delaying a delivery.
If you’re a smaller fleet, there are also various alternative options that can work for you.
Some fleets have experimented with the “drop and hook” method. Drop and hook consists of having more trailers than trucks and dropping off a trailer to be loaded as you pick up another that is already loaded.
So, let’s say you’re an owner-operator with one truck and a couple of trailers. Instead of waiting for shippers and receivers to load/unload you all the time, you can simply pick up loaded trailers on a consistent basis without the hassle of waiting.
If you’re someone with a dedicated lane, it’ll be nice to always have a loaded trailer waiting for you. While you’re dropping off a load, the shipper will be preparing your next trailer. Basically, all you’re doing is swapping an empty trailer for a full one and skipping waiting times, which gives you more time to drive.
While this method depends on your lanes and how you get loads, it may be worth experimenting with for some. What are some other ideas for changing operations you would recommend? Let us know in the comments or on social media!
So, that concludes our ELD Switch 101 series. Thank you for reading, hopefully, our tips and insight were useful to you throughout these five weeks.
And lastly, we also need to announce the winner of the $25 Starbucks gift card! The winner is Kevin Hwang! Congratulations and thank you again for reading!
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