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In Their Own Words: Grocery Supply Company

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The ELD Final Rule has upended the transportation industry. This federal requirement to use electronic logging devices in lieu of paper logs to track driver Hours of Service has raised questions for managers and drivers alike. One of the biggest concerns carriers have, aside from price, is how to manage the transition from paper logs to ELDs. Teletrac spoke with Don Owen, Transportation Manager at Grocery Supply Company about this matter. Grocery Supply Company is based in Sulphur Springs, Texas and maintains 54 trucks that deliver across the Midwest. Owen has been using ELDs for almost ten years and is well-versed in discussing ELDs with drivers.

You’ve been using ELDs for about ten years – before that, your drivers used paper logs. How did you introduce ELDs to your drivers?

We discussed ELDs in our safety meetings. We made sure the drivers knew that this was going to be a benefit to them. ELDs were going to make their jobs easier from a paperwork standpoint; they wouldn’t have to worry about miscalculating their hours. They would be able to get home more often and get more rest. And we would be able to tell customers when deliveries would be made with greater accuracy.

Did drivers offer any points of resistance to ELDs when the devices were first introduced?

There are always a few who think ELDs are Big Brother looking over their shoulder. But we explained to them how we would be using the devices. We would use them to make sure drivers would be able to take their breaks without having to bump up their hours of service.  We would also use them to create routes that could be done legally and would generate greater profit for the company.

Can you explain the profit angle?

With ELDs, we’re able to look at the queue of deliveries we need to make and the Hours of Service status of our drivers. We’re able to move stops around based when customers want their deliveries and which drivers can make those stops. We can time our schedules better to get as many stops done without violating the Hours of Service. From a logistics standpoint, we can create a route that is efficient and can be done legally by any driver we have.

How has this changed how drivers work?

It’s improved day-to-day work. I can tell you, when I was a driver, I hated doing paper logs. I delivered to restaurants and you might to deliver to three or four places right in a row and never even touch your log. And when you’re ready to drive somewhere, you have to catch yourself up. The ELDs do all that recording for you. Once a driver goes on the ELD and they get used to it, they prefer using the computer over the paper logs. The ELD lets them drive and get the truck unloaded and focus on their job.

So to make the transition to ELDs as easy as possible, carriers should focus on the drivers?

Absolutely. And listen to what the drivers say. Let the drivers voice their opinions. And make it clear that this how the industry is going and every trucking company is moving in this direction. ELDs are here to stay.

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Owen is absolutely right. ELDs are here to stay and they are a great opportunity to improve business operations. They change how drivers and managers work – that’s why it’s essential to get all parties on the same page when introducing ELDs to a company. If the transition period is handled successfully, ELDs can be the best thing to happen to a business.


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