The federal government’s electronic logging device mandate may feel like old news these days, now that the landmark regulation has been in effect for nearly 10 months. After all, a huge swath of the trucking industry has installed ELDs to record drivers’ hours-of-service information, thus ending the era of the paper logbook, but fleets should not forget that one very important step remains before the ELD rollout will be truly complete.
A second wave of onboard technology changes is looming for a large segment of the trucking industry — fleets that continue to use older electronic logging systems known as automatic onboard recording devices, or AOBRDs, rather than devices that meet the new ELD specifications.
The regulation included a grandfather clause that allows those early adopters to continue using their AOBRDs for two years beyond the ELD implementation date, and a great many fleets took advantage of that extension.
But when that grandfather period expires Dec. 16, 2019, all carriers subject to the regulation will need to have made the move to full ELDs.
Although that date remains more than a year away, the transition from AOBRDs to ELDs was a significant topic of discussion at Trimble Transportation’s In.sight user conference last month in Houston.
Tom Fansler, president of the company’s Mobility division, which includes PeopleNet, said the company has been ramping up training and customer support ahead of the AOBRD phase-out deadline.
“It’s going to be a big transition for the industry,” he said. “I think we, as an industry, haven’t fully digested the impact of that transition.”
Trimble Transportation Mobility President Tom Fansler describes how technology and forward-looking analytics can improve driver productivity and asset utilization at #insightuc. @PeopleNetOnline @TMWSystems @TrimbleCorpNews pic.twitter.com/tL9KpZHZ1T— Seth Clevenger (@SethClevenger) September 10, 2018
Fansler believes that most fleets that adopted e-logs well in advance of the ELD mandate have not yet made the switch to ELDs.
“I can tell you that the vast majority of our customers continue to operate under AOBRD, and I think that’s true industrywide,” he said. “We expect to start seeing that transition [to ELDs] happen toward end of the year and then accelerate, really probably reaching a crescendo in the second quarter or third quarter of next year.”
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In most cases, fleets will be able to update their AOBRDs to compliant ELDs through an over-the-air software update with no hardware changes required, but the ELD rule set may bring operational changes that amount to much more than simply flipping a switch.
“We are finding a lot of our customers and early partners are realizing that they needed to have some really important policy-based and procedure-based discussions before actually moving to the ELD rules,” Scott Groff, director of operations training at Trimble, said during a session on this topic at In.sight.
Editing of driver logs is a prime example. Today, some fleets retain the power to edit those logs and may restrict drivers from doing so, but under the ELD rules, fleets will need to request that the driver allow the company to edit the log.
Companies also should review their policies on the use of vehicles for personal conveyance, yard moves and unassigned drive time to make sure they reflect the new rule set.
When fleets are ready to move forward with the switch from AOBRDs to ELDs, driver training will be essential.
Groff recommended that fleets schedule their training sessions shortly before moving to ELDs so the information remains fresh in drivers’ minds.
As the AOBRD phase-out date draws nearer, it will become increasingly important for fleets — especially large fleets — to have a firm grasp on the coming changes to their onboard technology and their business processes.
Do not underestimate this transition. The time to begin planning is now.