How to Get More From Your Electronic Logs

Article Published by Geotab
Author: Robin Kinsey, HOS/ELD Training Specialist

If you ask carriers about electronic logging devices (ELDs), the reaction is mixed. Many companies are excited about ELDs and others are dragging their feet, dreading the day they absolutely have to install an ELD solution. Whether you are happy or sad, the compliance deadline is rapidly approaching. In this article, we’ll help you get to know electronic logs a little better, so you can make them work for you.

Since you must invest to become ELD compliant, why not leverage your investment? With electronic logging, you will have access to a wealth of data like never before. In addition to collecting records of duty status and location, engine hours, vehicles miles, driver id, a telematics solution can capture other critical data like odometer, fuel usage, speed, hard braking, and emissions.

Learning how to get more from your ELD data is well worth the effort and can even save you some money.

See AlsoELD Basics and Frequently Asked Questions

9 Ways to Leverage Your ELD Investment

Electronic logs can support almost every part of your operations. From safety and maintenance to customer service, here are nine other ways that carriers can use ELDs.

1. Improve the Safety of Your Drivers

The absolute number one reason to use ELDs is safety. The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates that 1,844 crashes can be avoided and 26 lives saved annually. If one life could be saved it would be worth it.

driver with hands on steering wheel

Just a couple of years ago, within ten miles of where I live there was a tragic accident. A group of six young ladies were driving to their last clinical to become nurses. They were set to graduate from college in three days. It was a typical morning in May, but a little foggy, so there had been a fender bender on the local interstate highway causing stop and go traffic.

A driver who was fatigued enough that he wasn’t paying attention, hit the vehicle with those young ladies. Unfortunately, four of them died on impact and the other two ended up in critical condition. The driver was prosecuted and is spending the next ten years in jail. The driver’s company went out of business because they were sued. This story illustrates the seriousness of driver fatigue. ELDs will save lives!

2. Take On More Work

Typically, at some time of the day, most drivers sit in their truck and attempt to create their logs. Not only is it an approximate guess of his or her day but it also takes time. We all know time is money.

In a conservative estimate, let’s say this driver averages 30 minutes of his day creating his logs. Then we take that 30 minutes and multiple that by 260 work days in a year (30 mins x 260 days = 7800 mins or 130 hrs). That equals 5.6 days or another 130 hours he could be driving and making money!

3. Redirect Office Staff to More Important Tasks

Most companies have a designated office person that runs around each week, gathering logs from the drivers and reviewing them to make sure everything is completed correctly. With ELDs, those logs are quick and easy to access. No more hunting down drivers or hounding them to fill out their logs. Also to mention, the improvement in log accuracy can help reduce the opportunities for violations and fines.

If an administrative person spends ten hours a week reviewing and processing logs, and their average wage is $15.00 per hour, the company could save 520 working hours and $7,800 per year. Those hours can be reduced, or the staff member can be reassigned to other important tasks that support the business.

4. Maximize Uptime and Customer Satisfaction

Geotab provides engine diagnostics with our solution so why not leverage that data which will allow you to be proactive instead of reactive with your maintenance. Being proactive typically reduces your overall maintenance cost and allows for overall better maintenance of your vehicles.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reports that telematics technology can help a company reduce maintenance and repair costs by as much as 14%.

Just imagine if your driver completes a delivery then can’t leave because his battery is dead. This sets out a chain of events:

  • You’ll probably have to find another truck, perhaps even rent a truck to transfer his load.
  • Then, his truck might have to be towed. You lose the truck plus the working hours as the driver sits there doing nothing.
  • There delay in deliveries might cause customer satisfaction issues for you. This can all be avoided with ELDs and setting up a notification when the vehicle’s battery is losing voltage, saving you time, money and improving customer relations.

5. Driver Coaching

Cost savings is one major reason to look into driver behavior management. Driver feedback tools like real-time coaching and in-cab alerts are some of the best ways to minimize unnecessary wear and tear on your fleet’s vehicles. This reduces the overall maintenance needed on your vehicle, which pays off in lower costs.

Coaching drivers to avoid speeding can lower your fuel spending. You can optimize the fuel economy of your fleet by focusing on many factors, including rapid acceleration, speeding, idle time, and heavy braking. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, for every 5 mph that is driven over 50 mph, gas mileage decreases. Going the speed limit has a fuel economy benefit of 7-14%, which translates into $0.16-$0.32 per gallon.

refueling truck with gas

I have a personal example of changing driver behavior via in-cab alerts. I purchased a new vehicle last year and one of its features would beep at me if I changed lanes without using my turn signal. I didn’t think that this feature would be much use — I was certain that I used my turn signal all the time. I quickly discovered with all the frequent beeping that I really did not use my turn signal as much as I thought I did. I make it a goal now to not receive any beeps when I go out on a trip. The in-cab alerts have changed my driving behavior for the better.

6. Reduce Downtime and Streamline Vehicle Inspections

Real-time feedback on Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIRs) eliminates the need to chase down completed reports and the uncertainty about whether the driver really did the inspection as required.

Additionally, electronic logs make it possible to manage your defects in real-time, which reduces your downtime due to maintenance. Your mechanic or even a third-party maintenance company can receive your completed DVIR, and quickly determine if the issue is high priority and needs immediate repair or if it’s not urgent and can be scheduled later. What’s more, the required part can be ordered in advance, prior to the vehicle entering the shop, which again reduces the time the vehicle is in repair and not making money for you. Read more about this in our post on remote diagnostics for commercial trucks.

You can also set up maintenance reminders based upon miles driven, engine hours or time. This will better assist you with keeping you fleet of vehicles in the best driving conditions — reducing downtime, maintenance costs, and extending the longevity of your trucks.

7. Use Electronic Logs for Routing

Routing applications are wonderful but most telematics solutions offers some basic routing features and functionalities. If you do not have a routing application, with ELDs, you can now determine the best route your driver needs to take. By comparing the planned versus actual routes at the end of the day you can  better efficiency and miles driven management.

8. Confirm Arrival Times for Customers

Have you ever had a customer call and tell you a driver was late arriving — only for the driver to deny it?  Who is right? Now you can use geofencing or zones to determine when your driver arrived, when he left, and how long he was there. This will allow you to have delivery status at your fingertips whenever customers call, and better manage the time spent at each stop.

9. Automate IFTA Reporting With Electronic Logs

Do you have someone running around your office each month trying to determine what miles were driven in what state for your IFTA report? Now you can have all of your mileage broken down by state and country in a report that is emailed to you at whatever frequency you would like. This will save you time, money and headaches. For more details on this feature, read about IFTA Reporting and the ELD Mandate.

In summary, electronic logs and telematics can provide you with so much data other than just what is necessary to become ELD Compliant. You have the data, why not use it?

Learn why you should consider Geotab as your go-to source for compliance management. See how Geotab makes ELD easy.


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