Now that the ELD compliance deadline is getting closer by the day, it pays for trucking companies to get as much information about the expected costs associated with acquiring these electronic logging devices.
After all, depending on how educated they are with the standard rates/fees that are usually charged by the ELD providers, they can easily end up saving hundreds of thousand of dollars yearly. This is especially true if they have hundreds of trucks under their fleet.
Let’s look into some of the crucial points that carriers would need to know about the expected cost of an ELD.
How much do ELDs cost?
It’s interesting to note that there is a massive difference between how ELD providers are pricing their services.
Some manufacturers would charge over $5000 for their first year because they have lock-in contracts, while others can offer their ELDs for as little as $240 for the first year without any commitments — all while still providing incredible service.
Others would also charge separately for the hardware, installation, training, and for the monthly fees. These are some of the things that carriers would need to ask about when considering how much an ELD provider would really charge. The last thing the trucking companies would want is to decide on a specific ELD manufacturer based on their monthly fees alone, only to find out that the manufacturer would still need to charge them for the hardware, installation, etc.
Another thing that carriers need to look out for is lock-in contracts. While not all ELD manufacturers lock their clients in for multiple years (usually a minimum of 3 years), there are those who do.
The points above should prompt carriers to find the right ELD providers.
Due to the myths circulating about how ELDs are expensive and how it will only add unnecessary expenses to the carriers, a good number of trucking companies are under the impression that ELDs are supposed to be expensive — that’s not necessarily the case. With the right ELD manufacturer, the trucking companies won’t have to empty their pockets to have ELDs installed in their trucks.
How ELDs Can Lower Company Expenses
There are several ways an ELD can help a trucking company reduce its expenses.
Low fuel wastage
ELDs can tell fleet managers the idle time of trucks or if the driver is speeding, among many other things. Once proper feedback is given to drivers and the adjustments have been made, less fuel will end up going to waste.
Lesser time and resources spent to work on clerical tasks
Truck drivers and fleet managers won’t have to spend much of their time filling in paper logs or generating reports. ELDs can do these automatically or in just a couple of clicks on the fleet management dashboard.
Because ELDs can help truck drivers and carriers avoid a good number of violations, that can only mean lesser fines for them to pay. Not only that, but their CSA scores are also bound to improve as they avoid roadside violations.
Fewer road accidents
Roadside accidents can be very costly. When you think about liabilities, your truck’s downtime, the negative impact on your CSA scores, and the overall bad reputation that your trucking company would have to deal with (among other things), it becomes clear as day how you ought to take every measure you can make to avoid roadside accidents.
ELDs can help trucking companies with just that. Since ELDs can keep drivers from driving while drowsy by helping them stay within their HOS limits, they can avoid more road accidents.
Also, if the vehicle has any maintenance issues or faults, drivers will also be notified by the ELD prompting him/her to be even more cautious when driving.
Lower insurance premiums
The insurance companies will charge more when they are working with high-risk clients. For example, if they see that the trucking company has a terrible CSA score due to the number of road crashes they’ve had, then the chances of them quoting the company for higher rates becomes likely.
However, if a trucking company barely has any violations or road accidents (with the help of ELDs installed in their trucks), then the insurance company won’t see them as a high-risk company.
Minimum, truck downtimes
ELDs have the ability to detect fault codes from your trucks. If your truck has brake or tire problems, the logging device would be able to detect it because it is plugged into your vehicle’s diagnostic port.
As soon as the ELD detects fault codes, it will automatically alert the driver and the fleet managers about it. At that point, the fleet managers can prepare the replacement parts for the vehicle’s broken parts before it even reaches home office. That way, when the truck arrives, the replacement parts are already prepared and the trucks won’t have to experience longer downtimes (or the downtime can be avoided altogether, in some cases).
When truckers peg these points with the fees associated with acquiring ELDs, they get a better understanding how ELDs will bring more good to their company. They also won’t think twice about getting the logging devices since it will pretty much pay for itself in the long run.
How to choose an ELD manufacturer?
With how massive of an impact ELDs can bring to a trucking business, the fleet owners need to be cautious with choosing which ELD manufacturer they’ll choose as their ELD provider.
Below are some of the crucial points that carriers can look into when screening their prospective ELD providers:
1. Make sure that the electronic logging device is a registered ELD with FMCSA. This is FMCSA’s list of registered ELDs.
2. The ELD manufacturer needs to have ample amount of experience in the trucking industry.
3. Check out the provider’s record with the Better Business Bureau. Also, you can review what other trucking companies are saying about them online by reading reviews or comments about the manufacturer.
4. Make sure that their ELD includes a fleet management system. Some providers do not include an FMS since it isn’t really part of the ELD mandate. An FMS can do wonders for a trucking company. Without it, a trucking company will miss out on dozens of benefits.
5. Long-term solutions. The provider shouldn’t have any problems with running updates on their software/hardware in the future. Considering how the regulations applied to the trucking industry is ever changing, the provider needs to be able to stay updated with the industry’s dynamics, without having to cause carriers any downtimes.
6. Price. While the ELD providers’ pricing levels are definitely something that carriers should consider, they shouldn’t look at it as the primary factor when choosing a provider.
With how the ELD mandate is setup, it is bound to stay for the long haul. That being said, carriers need to have a long-term outlook when choosing a provider. If they need to pay higher rates during their starting years only to save more in the long run, then they might want to consider the pricier startup option since they are bound to save more down the line.
However, it’s also important to remember that ELDs don’t have to be expensive. There are affordable ELD providers that can provide exceptional services while not charging extra for the hardware, training, and installation, etc. The carriers just need to give their due diligence when looking for the best ELD manufacturer to work with.
7. Scalability. Through ELDs, trucking companies are bound to experience growth not just in productivity, but also in revenue. That being said, carriers are poised to experience expansions. The ELD manufacturer needs to be able to provide solutions that cater to a growing fleet. If they are unable to keep up, it can cause all sorts of limitations to the carriers — which, of course, isn’t ideal.
8. Are they still compliant in the oil fields, Canada, and Alaska? The FMCSA regulations on these areas are different than that of North America’s. Whether the carriers’ trucks operate in these areas or not, it would be prudent for them to make sure that the ELD provider can ensure compliance in these areas. That way, should the carrier expand and have the need to operate in the oil fields, Canada, or Alaska, they won’t have any issues with complying with FMCSA’s regulations.
9. Reliable customer support. Using a new technology can be quite overwhelming to some truckers. While ELDs are relatively easy to use — even the web dashboards for the fleet managers — there are still going to be instances where truckers and managers would need help with their device. In situations like these, the trucking company needs to be able to rely on the ELD manufacturer to provide immediate and reliable support. Otherwise, carriers will find themselves dealing with unnecessary downtimes which can cost them time and money.
10. Security and safety. With how rampant hacking is in this digital age, the ELD manufacturer should at least be able to give you bank-level security when it comes to protecting the data on your ELDs. You also need to confirm that the ELD manufacturer won’t sell your data to third party companies. In short, you need to ascertain that your data is safe, secure, and that you have full control (and ownership) over it.