Under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulation 49 CFR 395.15 all motor carriers must be Electronic Logging Device (ELD) compliant by December 16, 2019. For carting companies, this may pose the question, “How do I choose an ELD?”
Plugged into the engine of a semi an ELD records hours of service. To satisfy 49 CFR 395.15 an ELD has to allow the driver upon logging in to choose between On-duty, Off-duty, or On-duty Not Driving. The system must visually display Record of Duty Status (RODS), record data using a format that allows the data to be shared with police agencies via Bluetooth 2.0, wireless web services, or USB. To prove it satisfies FMCSA standards ELD devices must have provider certification.
What Do You Need?
Start your search for an ELD unit by figuring out what features you want or need. Some Electronic Logging Devices only offer the minimum features necessary to meet Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration standards. The simple systems are the cheapest.
There are some extras available you might consider useful.
- Engine diagnostics
- Fuel monitoring
- Tire pressure monitoring
This is only a partial list of options. While units with extra features will likely cost more initially, they can save a company money in the long term.
Cash or Charge?
The least expensive ELD costs around $600. As we discussed earlier the more features the higher the price. You also have to factor in the number of vehicles in your fleet. If you have the wherewithal you can pay cash.
Depending on who you buy your ELD system from financing may be available. Naturally, there will be interest, but the monthly service fees might be lumped in with the finance payments. The aforementioned monthly service fees can ultimately cost you more than the Electronic Logging Devices. Just about every ELD provider charges service fees, so you’ll want to make monthly service fees part of the decision making process.
If paying cash or financing is out of the question lease/service only pricing is an option with some sellers. Under a lease instead of a separate charge for the unit and the peripherals, you could be charged one price for everything.
Ads for Packard suggested, “Ask the man who owns one.” Consult online reviews of ELD systems you are considering as part of your due diligence. Reviews provide insight into the quality of the unit and tech support.
Plugin vs Hardwired
Whether you own your trucks or use outside contractors will influence what system you buy. Some ELDs can take two hours to install. Others simply plug into the tractor’s diagnostic port. Explore the pros and cons of hardwired vs plugin.
If you use outside contractors and the Electronic Logging Device has to constantly be moved from one truck to another a plugin is more than likely the best choice. If you own your trucks hardwiring doesn’t matter as much.
Try Then Buy
Look for vendors who offer a pilot program. The benefits of field testing an ELD system before buying need no elaboration. At a minimum, any field test should take a few weeks. Some sellers will let you demo their system gratis while others may charge a “demo fee”.
A system for communicating with the ELD and sending data are incorporated into some ELD units. Communications costs are part of your monthly service charges. Other systems could require providing drivers with smartphones or tablets to communicate with the Electronic Logging Device. In addition to the price of the phone or tablet, these devices will generate extra monthly service bills.
Under regulation 49 CFR 395.15 an ELD must connect to a semi’s Electronic Control Module (ECM). A display screen has to be installed in the cab within view of the driver. Some suppliers install for free and may send the installer to the trucking company’s location. Other providers charge for installation. For carriers who have their own techs on staff, a vendor might offer free installation training for those techs.