The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s electronic logging device mandate looked daunting when it was announced. But now that they’ve implemented the necessary hardware and software, many fleet owners have found the regulation delivers a silver lining in the form of reduced paperwork and more data to make informed business decisions.

Phase 2 of the ELD mandate runs through December 2019, which means fleets operating with automatic onboard recording devices must soon fully deploy ELDs. Meanwhile, some early ELD adopters are considering upgrading to modern fleet management platforms to take advantage of additional business intelligence (BI) features.

In both cases, organizations should look at the big picture to derive maximum business value from their investments to address ELD requirements. For example:

  • How can a next-generation fleet management platform not only address ELD but also ensure compliance with other laws, such as the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)?
  • How can a modern fleet management solution improve the ability of driver safety programs to minimize accidents, tickets, lawsuits — including frivolous ones — and insurance premiums?
  • How can the use of Internet of Things technologies ensure just-in-time deliveries and maximize customer satisfaction?

Maximize Fleet Productivity, Safety, Efficiency and More

Samsara’s cloud-based fleet management solution is a great example of how a single platform can support a wide variety of regulatory and BI requirements, including ELD. It also has an intuitive dashboard that makes it easy to manage and master its features. In vehicles, the Samsara gateway serves as a Wi-Fi hotspot to support smartphone apps such as hours-of-service reporting, driver vehicle inspection reports and fuel receipts. The gateway also tracks the vehicle’s location via GPS, connects to onboard devices such as IoT modules that monitor cargo temperature and collects engine diagnostic information — all in real time. Tracking cargo temperature is key for complying with FSMA and an example of how the right fleet management platform can address multiple regulatory requirements.

Fleet owners can do a lot with this data. For example, analysis of engine diagnostics data might indicate an emerging problem before a driver notices it, so the vehicle can go into the shop long before an issue escalates into expensive damage and extensive downtime. This data is collected and stored in a database, so when it’s time to replace a vehicle, the fleet owner can look back on historical data to see exactly which models of engines and transmissions have higher or lower service costs.

Cameras are also a powerful tool for managing fleets. Inside the cab, cameras with built-in artificial intelligence can identify unsafe driving habits, such as inattentiveness or cellphone use. The fleet owner can use those insights — along with other systems that record harsh braking and speeding — to target drivers for corrective training, preventing accidents before they occur.

Outside the cab, the video data from cameras can help prove whether an accident was caused by a fleet driver or another vehicle. The cost of equipping a fleet with cameras can be far less than the cost of defending or settling a lawsuit in which the truck driver wasn’t at fault, not to mention the inevitable hike in insurance premiums.

Additional Advantages of BI

Safety isn’t the only benefit of tracking speed. For example, dispatchers can use analytic tools to classify roads where their vehicles frequently drive well below the speed limit. Then they can create new routes that avoid congested areas — saving fuel and boosting productivity.

Real-time speed and location information can maximize customer satisfaction. For example, that data could be fed into a portal that customers can check to get the latest estimated time for a delivery — or, in the case of school bus fleet, when their child will be dropped off.

The transportation industry is facing some challenges in meeting the mandate for deploying ELDs, but for companies that approach the issue strategically, the regulation can undoubtedly be good for business.

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