Consultant shares pain points on ELD implementation
Transport Safety Risk Management & Security Newsletter
This is Part 1 of a two-part series in which Ed Emerick, veteran safety consultant, offers insight into transportation trends and pain points.
Ed Emerick, Lead Safety Consultant for J. J. Keller & Associates, came to the company with experience in commercial driving and motor carrier management. Prior to joining J. J. Keller in 1992, Emerick worked as a Safety Director, managing a 700-truck fleet, and before that position, he worked as a District Manager in Operations. Over the past 25 years, he has been watching the pulse of the trucking industry in his role as transportation consultant.
Emerick is primarily assigned to assist companies that are private motor carriers in service-related industries. In other words, they transport their own product or tools and supplies — rather than act as for-hire carriers in the market place. But many of the concerns and hot topics are the same no matter the designation.
This month’s edition will focus on electronic logging device (ELD) implementation. Interstate drivers who are subject to the record of duty status (Section 395.8) must use ELDs by December 18, 2017.
The ELD mandate applies to all types of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) as defined in Section 390.5, including tractor-trailers, buses, certain pickup trucks, straight trucks, and so on. In addition, the mandate applies to all types of CMV drivers, including those who drive for small or even single-unit fleets, drivers of leased or rented vehicles, drivers who do not hold a commercial driver’s license, and drivers working for private, “non-trucking” operations.
When asked what he views as the top concern for motor carriers over the past few years, without hesitation Emerick responded, “The hot button of the day is implementation of electronic logging devices. It is running the gamut.”
Emerick explained, “I have some companies that have started to implement. They have been embraced, and the learning curve has been relatively quick and the drivers like it. And then I have run into the other side of the house, where they implement, and it’s so frustrating that they pulled the devices.” These carriers are waiting for the deadline to force their drivers to use the device, he stated.
Emerick used the example of a company that implemented ELDs last summer and gave up on them by mid-winter because of the level of aggravation. In some cases, the reason behind the failed implementation was an unwillingness on the part of the drivers to use the devices. He knows of fleets that use independent contractors who have “jumped ship” when told to use ELDs. These motor carriers start to lose drivers over the implementation of ELDs.
Selecting the right device
Another pain point associated with ELD implementation is the device itself. “Some of the technology is not real reliable so it becomes more of a hardware or software failure. And the drivers lose faith and the carriers lose faith in the tool, and they revert back to the paper log. It’s been a real challenge for some people,” Emerick indicated.
Emerick suggests that a well-run ELD implementation starts with doing your homework and choosing a reputable resource for your solution. “That is the first piece. I have customers that have spent months and months researching the available tools out there for this issue. Once they have completed the research, it is a matter of having a detailed implementation plan,” Emerick stated.
Putting a plan in place
It is invaluable, according to Emerick, that this implementation plan indicates exactly where a company wants to be in a specific time period. It also should lay out the steps the company is going to take to achieve this goal. “It should hold everybody’s feet to the fire about following through with that implementation schedule. It is not only drivers that start to balk, but it’s the Operations people,” he said.
As Emerick explains it, some employees in Operations are fighting the implementation of ELDs because they now know exactly how many hours a driver has. They can no longer second-guess what the driver is telling them. Because of this, these individuals want to keep pushing back the implementation. A detailed implementation plan can assist in circumventing those types of scenarios, Emerick believes.
When asked whether he thinks carriers are expecting a delay of the ELD implementation date as a result of the new Administration, he stated he has not seen this as a mindset. “My customer base is moving forward with that date. They are going to go live on December 18. They are not betting on a delay or change,” he said.
The second installment based on a conversation with Ed Emerick will appear in the August edition of the Transport Safety Risk Management & Security Newsletter.
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