The electronic logging device (ELD) mandate is causing a stir in the transportation industry. The federal mandate requiring hours of service (HOS) to be tracked electronically has raised questions for both managers and drivers. For many businesses, implementing any type of change across their organization requires time, effort and training. Teletrac Navman spoke with Ron Tucker, Logistics Manager at Reece Albert Inc. about his experience introducing elogs to his drivers. Reece Albert Inc. is based in San Angelo, Texas and provides heavy construction and paving services, and offers a variety of paving materials through its sister company, CSA Materials Inc. Ron went through one year of research before deciding on an elog provider for 50 of his vehicles. And after only one week of implementation, Ron shares his surprising find about elog adoption across his fleet.
Are there specific Department of Transportation regulations that your company is required to follow?
Yes, we have to follow all of the Federal Motor Carrier [Safety Administration] regulations and compliance. And when we are in some of the quarries, we have MSHA and OSHA regulations we have to abide by as well.
Why did you begin to research different elog solutions?
Well, I knew this ELD mandate was coming a while back. And I think a lot of people know it’s coming and I didn’t want to wait until the last minute to do my homework. Unfortunately, our trucks have been equipped with a GPS system already. We’re really deep in several areas with this software program and I was hoping that [this provider] would come up with an elog solution that would work with what we already had.
And they offered up more or less a joke—a phone app that wouldn’t work and a dashboard that wouldn’t work. It was just something they were trying to throw together at the last minute. So, they didn’t come up with a decent solution.
After one year of research, you made a decision on a new provider. Why did you ultimately choose Teletrac Navman?
I was looking at a dozen or so companies, researching and looking at industry leaders. Pricing, dependability and history were concerns. I looked at all of the angles and all of the different equipment and different packages. And I dug deep and looked at all of the consumer complaints and Better Business Bureau reports. Any company who is out here working is going to have some complaints. And if you’ve got 20,000 or 30,000 customers, you’ll have someone in the public complaining.
But everything I looked at was resolved and reasonable. There weren’t a lot of complaints for the amount of customers. In the end I narrowed it down to Teletrac [Navman] and [another provider] as industry leaders. I think both [companies] have proven track records. And I wanted to get something that was already out there, been used, workable…no issues, and it had been around for some years. Because right here at the end of this [deadline], there is going to be everybody and their dog throw[ing] a system out there in the market at the last minute and it’s going to be a mess for the people who buy it. I didn’t want to be one of those guys who waited until the end and bought something that I didn’t know anything about and fall short. So I was really happy with everything that was offered with Teletrac [Navman].
The main thing [that] was easy for me was the Teletrac [Navman] turnkey deal—you provide the mounts, the tablets, the install and everything. With everything that we’ve got going on, that’s what made the difference.
You have been with Teletrac Navman for about six months. How did your drivers handle the transition to elogs?
We have young drivers and we have a lot of older drivers—some guys who are 55 to 65 [years old]. When we started installing, a bunch of them were complaining, “I can’t do that…If I can’t figure it out, I’m going to quit.” You know, all of this doom and gloom.
And we get it running and show them [how to use the elogs], and they love it. They say, “you know man, this is so much better than doing paper logs.” And [now] we are fully operational with electronic logging.
Aside from logging hours, what other benefits have you experienced with elogs?
It has helped in a couple of different sectors. Some of our managers who have tried to push past the legal hours [now find that] they can’t. And of course, it’s a great log. It’s legible. We can go in and pull a report and look at everything, [including] the history. I’m really happy with the results.
And the fact that they’re leaving [the tablet] on the dash and not toying with it and not using a phone [makes our operation safer]. The company that we have the software with wanted our drivers to use their cell phones and I was completely against that from the get-go. The phones in the truck are a problem. I don’t want them picking up phones, touching phones…and the screen is not big enough to properly log anyway. I absolutely know it’s safer to have the tablet on the dash.
Did you encounter other points of resistance when introducing elog devices to your fleet?
Just the fear of the unknown. Fear of changing. They didn’t want anything different and they thought, “Well it’s going to be too complicated.” But once they got going, they realized it is a lot easier. They log in to their pre-trip and their post-trip and they are done. And some of the guys who I thought I would really have trouble with—the “Old Goats” as I call them—they caught on quick[ly] and they were helping the other guys. So it was very surprising at how smooth it went.
How long did it take your drivers to get comfortable with the technology?
We ran them a week. [And after one week], they quit paper logging. I thought it was quite remarkable. I thought it would take a couple of months to get some of these guys going. But it really went smooth. It’s just really easy to do. And most of these guys have smartphones and, as “old goat” as I think they are, they are on Facebook and everything else, so it wasn’t anything super, over the top difficult for them to [adapt] to the tablet. It’s just really user-friendly. I’m really happy with it.
Do you have any recommendations for businesses looking for an HOS solution?
I think they all know they don’t want to wait until December of next year because [elogs] are mandated. It’s just going to be chaos with everybody trying to get installs. All the other companies popping up and the garbage that‘s being thrown on the market, [I would recommend to] try to get it done [between] now and sometime next summer.
In general, how has technology affected the way your fleet runs and operates?
It has everything to do with your fleet being successful. You know I’m kind of old school—baby boomer—and I had to learn that new technology is really good for me, embrace it and learn how it works. It just makes you more efficient, more aware…with everything that we’ve got going on here, I could not do without the technology that we have. It’s a good thing.
Questions about the ELD mandate? Visit https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/faqs.
Considering elogs for your fleet? Download the 2016 ELD Buyer’s Guide to discover the right solution for your business.