August 15

Bill Wark

IoT and Electronic Logging Devices

electronic logging devices

To stay compliant with US regulations such as MAP-21, support EU road-safety goals such as the Strategic Action Plan on Road Safety, and to easily monitor, track and manage data records for drivers on the road, electronic logging devices have become part and parcel of fleet and carrier management. 

If you’re looking for an IoT solution for ELDs, and you’re in the process of researching your connectivity needs — you’re in the right place! 

What is the Need for ELDs? 

The Electronic Logging Device rule is a congressionally mandated element of MAP-21, intended to make the roads safer for drivers and fleets, and to simplify the process of logging Records for Duty Status (RODS) data. 

What does this mean in simple English? As part of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century law, drivers who are involved in interstate commerce, and who use commercial motor vehicles are legally responsible for logging the number of hours they are driving for each day. They also need to have a process in place for automatically monitoring tire pressure, brake performance, headlights and more. 

According to the compliance regulations, this needs to be completed electronically. This replaces the traditional — heavily manual — process, where drivers often waited to log their hours until they were finished work for the day. 

How Do ELD Work? 

To meet compliance regulations, drivers must log information at least two times each day, usually using a tablet device to inspect the vehicle, and to automatically log hours of service. This information is signed by the driver and uploaded to a centralized server, and can then be used as sworn testimony in court. 

The goal of ELDs is primarily to protect drivers. If there is any situation where liability is being questioned, for example where drivers are being accused of working for a greater number of hours than is compliant, the data from ELDs can be used as proof to show the true behavior of drivers and the status of vehicles, and to prevent undue harassment. This is important as many road accidents involving trucks are assumed to be the truckers’ fault, and the company will need a wide array of evidence to prove otherwise, including the data from ELDs. 

Manual processes where the drivers simply wrote down their hours were far more error-prone and impossible to formalize or secure, making them less likely to be taken seriously in court, or when facing an insurance claim. This isn’t surprising as they were easily falsified and based on subjective interpretations of the parameters rather than set out clearly as a checklist. 

In contrast, ELDs have revolutionized safety inspections, providing complete electronic logs that can offer both historical information, and an accurate and in the moment source of data that can be relied on. 

Adding connectivity to the mix, you also get some additional benefits. For example, Corporate can now communicate with drivers on the road, sending alerts or notifications to drivers where necessary, for anything from warning of inclement weather to suggesting they take a break after a certain number of hours. 

We’ve also spoken to customers who use the data from ELDs to support driver training. The business can establish baselines for how long certain tasks take to complete, and then track drivers who fall far from these timeframes. If an inspection takes 5 minutes, and a driver is consistently taking just 2 minutes to complete the same task, the chances are they are skipping steps or need some support in learning how to perform the inspection accurately. 

Understanding the connectivity Needs of Electronic Logging Devices

One of the most important considerations for ELDs is coverage. Drivers need to have connectivity wherever they travel, and in this use case — interstate travel is the very reason the ELDs are needed, so you can guarantee wide regional requirements. You can assume that trucks and vehicles will be moving in and out of different States and will need to be able to seamlessly connect to local operator coverage to ensure availability and connectivity wherever they are. To allow Corporate to send messages and alerts to drivers on the road as outlined in the benefits above, your solution also must support two-way communication.

A good example of SIMs that provide flexible coverage is floLIVE’s multi-IMSI solutions. From a single SIM, tablets can autonomously switch to take advantage of local operator coverage when they are nearby, with zero gaps in availability. 

ELDs also experience more data consumption than your average IoT device, sending on average between 250MB and 500MB each month, which includes uploading documents, alerting if something goes wrong, and connecting periodically to send information. 

To put this into perspective, regular asset tracking devices can use in the region of 1MB to 2MB during the same time period, so ELDs would certainly be considered high-ARPU devices. In this case, a  flexible cost structure is essential for today’s carriers, many of whom have seasonal demands and spikes in driver activity. It’s critical that these businesses can pay for what they use, rather than be tied into a flat fee per device, regardless of actual activity and if the vehicle is on the road. 

ELD tablets are an interesting IoT use case because they rely on human interaction, unlike many other machine-to-machine (M2M) IoT devices. This means that permissions management is much more important than with other IoT devices or sensors. If left unchecked, you might find drivers logging into social media on the road, or using their break to stream their favorite TV show, using far more data than the device should. At floLIVE, we can offer granular control over traffic management, whitelisting or blacklisting specific traffic and ports so that the tablets can only be used as intended. 

At all times, floLIVE offers the real-time data and support that only comes with owning the whole tech stack. You can retain full visibility and control, not only to ensure compliance, but also to remain aware of network events and traffic, making smart decisions in the moment of need, and supporting your drivers to be productive and safe on the road. 

Interested in discussing your ELD use case? Schedule a call here.

August 15

Bill Wark


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