Five Questions to Ask Yourself when Shopping for an Electronic Logging Device
With the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate looming, interest in ELDs has never been higher. If your fleet isn’t currently equipped with them, the odds are that you have already started to look around for information about them so you can be prepared when the ELD mandate comes. With that in mind, here are the top five questions you should ask yourself before moving forward.
1. Will my vendor be ready for the ELD mandate?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has only issued a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, with a final rule to come in late 2015—which, as of the writing of this post, is estimated to happen in September 2015. This means that specifications are not set in stone yet. What does it mean for a selection process? Your ELD vendor must know the regulation back-and-forth as soon as a final rule is published. It also means your provider must have a seat at the table for determining what’s in the rule. Ask your ELD provider about their involvement in the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, how they help association technology work groups, and their overall involvement in the rule making process. You should feel comfortable that your vendor has staff dedicated to interpreting the FMCSA’s requirements, and that they have the development resources to make it happen.
2. Does the ELD integrate with my current and future systems?
Whether you are an established fleet or a small fleet planning to grow, it will be vital that your ELD provider can properly integrate with your current and future software providers. Building out these integrations is expensive and time consuming for telematics providers. This means only a handful of these companies have the capital or time in business to have developed a wide array of integrations.
3. What are my costs or financing options?
If you are in a cash flow crunch, it may be tempting to rule out a provider because the upfront cost of the hardware is high. Don’t fall for this trap—ask for financing numbers so you can create a true apples-to-apples comparison of monthly cost. Many providers with $700+ hardware can be far less expensive than other providers with inexpensive or free hardware costs.
4. What additional features can each ELD provide?
Most small fleets are looking for an ELD solution that provides ELD mandate compliance and simple GPS tracking capabilities, but as your business grows you will want—and expect—more and more from your ELD solution. For example, does your potential ELD vendor have a solution to minimize out-of-route miles, prevent excessive idling, simplify your IFTA reporting, or provide truck-specific navigation? When fuel prices spike back up, how will it help you optimize your fuel efficiency?
5. Am I a C.H. Robinson contract carrier?
Only one ELD vendor provides integration with C.H. Robinson, enables contract carriers to eliminate the hassle of dealing with frequent check calls, and provides preferential treatment for being a part of the program. Learn more about the Omnitracs and C.H. Robinson Electronic Load Visibility program.
Do you have other questions you feel are important to ask when buying an ELD? What have your experiences been working with ELDs? Please share your questions or thoughts in the comments section below.