Hundreds of ELD products are out there, but which one best suits your needs? To simplify your search, here are five things to consider when looking for an ELD technology partner.
1) Is your ELD accurate and reliable?
You need to be able to trust, come audit time, that you’ve captured everything required to comply with the ELD mandate, and that you’ve not been left high and dry by your technology. An unreliable device or system will waste your time and put you at risk during an audit. Closely related to accuracy is up-time. In other words, how many minutes each month can you expect the service to be working – or not working?
These are the basics and they speak to the quality of your product. Everyone says their ELD is accurate and reliable, but how can you trust it to be true? A good place to start is finding out whether a company makes that information public. If it does, then it’s got nothing to hide. If it doesn’t, it still may have nothing to hide, but you won’t know that for sure. So, check that the operator is transparent about up-time and accuracy. An ELD provider that’s open about those things is making a statement about its confidence in its product.
A final way to determine accuracy and reliability is if the product is independently verified by a third-party. The ELD mandate doesn’t require this of technology providers, and many companies are choosing to self-certify. You wouldn’t expect truck manufacturers to certify their own vehicles’ roadworthiness so why would you accept it from your technology partner?
And be sure to find out whether your tech supplier has a helpdesk and what hours it’s staffed – it’s good to know that someone will pick up the phone if needed. To be sure, you could ask what their phone answering statistics are.
2) Is your ELD future proofed?
The technology you install in a truck should last as long as the vehicle itself. The tech world moves incredibly quickly, so ask if the company you’re considering uses the latest technology. Legacy systems that haven’t kept up with tech trends can slow you down.
Find out how often a company releases software updates. Companies that update regularly – perhaps as often as every month – show that their technology platform is built for future needs, and that they respond to customer pain points. Do they provide over-the-air software upgrades for free as part of the service, or are they an additional cost?
It’s worth finding out how much a company spends on research and development, too. The only technology companies that thrive are those that constantly innovate, so any company worth its salt will be happy to share what it spends on R&D. If the company is publicly listed, that information will be freely available anyway.
3) Is your data safe?
There are a couple of things to consider here. First and foremost, is the system you’re using secure? No system is 100 percent hack-proof, but you should expect bank-grade levels of security. A good tech company will ask independent security specialists – often former hackers – to evaluate its system (i.e., try to break in) at least once a year. There are US and international standards for technology security, so ask your prospective provider whether their product conforms to standards such as FIPS 140-2 and Common Criteria.
Secondly, you need to ask who owns the information that’s being collected. If the answer is anything other than, “You do,” walk away. Quickly. It could be that a company provides a cheaper ELD service because it’s making up the shortfall by selling your data to a third party. If that’s the case, the very least you can expect is a lot more junk mail arriving to your inbox. At worst, a competitor could get its hands on your business-sensitive information. Establish at the beginning that the data is yours, and the technology provider is simply looking after it on your behalf.
4) Does your technology contribute to driver safety?
Every ELD is required to log how long a driver is behind the wheel (known as Hours of Service, or HOS), but some systems can monitor driving events such as speed limit violations, sharp cornering and harsh braking. This isn’t about preventing your drivers from getting a ticket, it’s also about keeping them safe in their workplace – the open road.
Driver behavior is just one side of safety, so consider a product that helps automate vehicle inspections, too. If drivers have a digital checklist, they can easily share results with the shop or back office where you, or your engineers and mechanics, can access them quickly.
5) What else is your technology doing for you?
It’s great that all ELD systems must cover the basics for compliance, but is your product adding value to your business? Consider it a true bonus that the ELD mandate can actually save you money – with a reliable, accurate system in place, that is.
A basic ELD helps you avoid fines for breaching HOS rules. And, for IFTA and weight-mile taxation purposes, the best ELDs accurately tell you how far a vehicle has traveled. Some will also calculate tax-exempt mileage on private roads, which can add up to many miles, as in the case of trucks used in the logging, construction, or rural industries.
The very best systems do more than audit how far a vehicle has traveled. Beyond contributing to greater driver safety, are you considering all the benefits of knowing how your trucks are driven?
The more insight you have, the better the chances of keeping your equipment on the road longer. Trucks aren’t profitable sitting in the workshop. Also, smoother driving equals lower maintenance costs – and maybe cheaper insurance premiums for you, too.
The bottom line is, if you’ve got the right ELD product and system, compliance doesn’t need to be a financial burden.
Making the move to ELD? Talk to one of our ELD experts to discuss your unique needs. We’re here to help. Contact Us.