Due to the federally mandated use of Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) in the U.S. and Canada, commercial carriers and fleet operators are investing in telematics technology in order to be compliant. 

Deciding on the best ELD, software platform and technology provider for your company may seem overwhelming, but the solution can create valuable new opportunities once in place.

By selecting the right ELD system and solution provider, the chance of a successful ELD initiative will increase and the ability to extract maximum ROI from ELD investments will improve.

When assessing ELD solutions, these four key components should be assessed:

  • the software platform
  • the electronic logging device and driver apps
  • other value-added applications and services
  • the solution provider

Platform Characteristics Determine Value Opportunities

Assessing the software platform can help you narrow your options quickly. To maximize the value gained from an ELD solution, a system must centralize the retention of information. Implementing a cloud-based solution is the quickest and easiest way to meet this requirement. 

You always have the latest revision, security patches, and upgrades with this approach. Plus, the cloud provider is responsible for uptime, security and system management. In contrast, you would be responsible for all of these functions and any associated expenses with an on-premise system.

To realize the most value, you need a system that easily integrates with one or more other systems, such as ERP, CRM, billing, supply chain control towers, and BI/analytics applications. Look for a ‘future-proof’ system with a flexible architecture that can evolve to meet changing regulations. Find out what volumes the platform is currently handling and how the solution provider is testing scalability.

Security and data ownership are critical when selecting a software platform. Ensure all transmitted and stored data is encrypted and that the solution provider has strong technology infrastructure security. You should learn what type of security audits have been done, how often and whether or not the provider is SSAE 18 Type 2 certified. Also, make sure you are granted full control over the data generated by your ELDs.

ELD Functionality Must be Compliant with Mandates

This statement may seem obvious, but some devices on the FMCSA’s list of registered ELDs may be non-compliant. So, it’s important to do your homework, especially if you are operating in the U.S. where manufacturers are allowed to self-certify their ELD. Before purchasing a device, you should check issues frequently reported to the FMCSA to ensure it’s compliant.

Here are a few things to consider when buying an ELD:

  • Price:  While the average device is $500, there are excellent devices that cost less. Be sure to check if there are extra fees in addition to the upfront charge or monthly fee.
  • Telematics vs. Local:  Selecting a device with telematics capabilities is strongly recommended because most value-add uses depend on a real-time remote connection.
  • Form Factor and Installation: Look for a small device form factor that works well for all

vehicles and is as plug-&-play as possible and can be installed in less than 30 minutes.

  • Warranty:  While life-time warranties are available, look for at least a one-year warranty.
  • Security:  Devices and server software should mutually authenticate.
  • Vehicle Data Collected:  All ELDs must interface with the CMV’s Engine Control Module (ECM) to automatically capture engine power status, vehicle motion status, miles driven, and engine hours.

Other capabilities to consider include vehicle remote diagnostics, collision detection and warning, IoT support and driver communications.

Value-added Services Can Increase ROI Potential

By working with a provider that offers an extensive set of value-added services and applications, you can leverage an ELD solution to improve your organization’s performance, utilization, safety, and profitability. Consider providers that offer the following value-added services.

Analytics:  Look for a full library of pre-built analytics and reports such as driver safety/performance, trip analytics and fleet and driver productivity. It’s also important that you can create your own analytics to customize the prebuilt reports.

Benchmarking:  Have the ability to benchmark drivers, vehicles, and arbitrary groups within your own company and to let employees see how they stack up against others internally. Benchmarking your performance against others in the industry with a similar profile is also possible.

Route planning and optimization:  Some providers offer route planning and optimization tools that leverage ELD data.

Remote vehicle diagnostics and predictive maintenance:  Tools are available to normalize, interpret and analyze fault codes, and to do predictive maintenance.

Dispatcher application/tools:  View vehicles and drivers on a map, access driver and vehicle status updates, communicate with drivers, receive/send alerts and easily forward critical information to emergency contacts.

Solution Providers Should Offer More Than Technology

When assessing solution providers you should look at factors beyond their technology. Here are some other considerations:

  • Depth of expertise and experience: How many engineers, technicians, and support people do they have? 
  • Customer experience: Check their references. Ask if you’ll have a dedicated account manager.
  • Implementation, Training, Technical Support: What’s the cost, timeframe and their role in the installation?  What types of training and support do they provide?
  • One-stop shop: Can they offer a broad portfolio of services with comprehensive support in a single, integrated platform that meets all your transportation and fleet management needs?
  • Partners: Do they have strong implementation and technology partners?

While providers have different strengths, one with a broad set of capabilities, deeply integrated with strong, experienced partners, will be better positioned to serve your company.

For more detailed information on how to assess ELD solutions and telematics technology, check out our complimentary white paper series Telematics-Driven Transformation:

  • Part 1 of 3: Best Practices for ELD Mandates
  • Part 2 of 3: Use Cases for Driving Value from ELD Mandates
  • Part 3 of 3: Selecting the Right Solution

In addition, watch these short animations that accompany the 3-part white paper series:

ELD Mandate and Telematics for the U.S.

ELD Mandate and Telematics for Canada