Transport Topics’ (TT) March 24, 2014 issue has a cover story (registration required) about the new FMCSA proposal to mandate E-Log devices (ELDs) be installed in all tractors on the road in the US. The ELDs are intended to standardize the capture of Hours of Service in order to ensure compliance with the recent, controversial new HOS rules which were met with significant skepticism by the transportation industry. In spite of the additional constraints this will place on available capacity, TT reports support for the E-Log mandate is high among fleet managers in particular. The enthusiasm over a mandate like this seemed a bit out of character, so we looked into reasons why this was the case.
While fleet managers reportedly favor the proposal, no one is surprised that there remains stiff opposition from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. Obviously, the cost of compliance with the mandate represents a much more significant burden on the smaller carrier who cannot as easily absorb the cost of compliance. However, big or small, no business favors being forced to spend money in support of additional regulation. So, how do we explain the support for the E-Log mandate among fleet managers?
To a large degree, the answer has to do with fleet managers’ collective embrace of technology in general. To a much greater extent than common carriers, fleet managers have been willing, and (often) early adopters of technology for transportation management. Fleet management tools, dock scheduling applications, in-cab telematics; these are all technologies embraced by fleets with commendable results.
UltraShipTMS has significant (if anecdotal) evidence supporting the enthusiasm for the latest innovation in technology among the numerous food producers and shippers who use UltraShipTMS and LoadFusion Optimizer for private fleet and common carrier management. Food shippers as an industry rely more than most on private fleets to augment their transportation network. However, we see the use of private fleets increasing across all industries as a means of offsetting continuously dwindling capacity. Along with increased reliance on private fleet resources comes increased interest in the technologies designed to help them operate at the highest levels of efficiency.
Ultra’s clients employing a mix of common carrier and private fleets to move their freight have historically struggled with the decision between whether to employ a fleet management tool or a TMS. With the advent of UltraShipTMS which enables all the functionality needed for common carrier management with the addition of tools for fleet managers – dispatching, backhaul management, driver pay roll, driver & equipment history management and others – fleet managers have again proved their enthusiasm as technology adopters.
This is why we believe ELDs are being embraced by fleet managers everywhere. They have always been willing adopters of technology. In fact, the Transport Topics article points out that there are secondary technology benefits embedded in the ELD. Skype and other technologies included in the on-board devices make them even more attractive to fleet drivers. And lastly, as the TT piece explains, the fleets being early adopters to begin with, are pleased that the mandate will now ensure a more level playing field since smaller fleet operators will not be able to skirt HOS reporting and compliance.
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