Choosing the right ELD solution for your business is a significant decision. Requirements gathering is a critical first step towards due diligence.
Here are 20 decision criteria that may help clarify your needs:
- What is my cost tolerance? Some systems can run thousands of dollars per truck in the first year. Bare bones compliance may be your most economical choice.
- Do I need this to be a capital or an operating expense? Depending on your corporate finances, hardware and implementation costs may be more palatable as a capital expense.
- What contract term am I comfortable with? Most ELD vendors require contracts, ranging up to five years. Do you see an exit strategy at the end of term, if you need to transition to another system?
- How many owner operators do I run? With the high cost of hardware and installations, a plug and play system with mobile computing may be more acceptable to both you and your O/O’s.
- How much do I use rental power equipment? You don’t get an exception if you use short term truck rentals. The driver must use a full compliance ELD system. As with O/O’s, plug and play ELD’s solve this problem.
- What operating jurisdictions does my business work in? If you cross the US/Canada border, you’ll need a system that can handle both countries. Some of your fleet may need state/province specific rules.
- What HOS rule sets do we use now? What might our needs be in the future? Some current ELD systems have very limited HOS data sets.
- What are my office system requirements? You may need full, real-time visibility into your fleet. Is the ELD backend able to integrate with my current Transportation Management System?
- Do we currently have an On-Board Computer system in our trucks? If so, is the vendor prepared to offer a fully compliant ELD system upgrade?
- Do we really require two-way satellite communications? Some of the legacy OBC systems were developed long before GPS and mobile communication coverage and availability became so wide spread. Satellite communications are notoriously expensive.
- What is our drivers’ tolerance to learning new technology? The companies currently with paper logbooks and no in-truck system will face some training and acceptance challenges. Simpler may be better.
- What is our dispatchers’ tolerance to learning new technology? This may be a whole new world for some dispatchers. For the first time, they’ll be able to see each driver’s duty status and hours remaining, in real time. Again, simpler may be better.
- What are our shippers’ requirements? Many shippers want a copy of the delivery/pickup driver’s logbook. How easy is it for a driver to email an e-copy?
- Do our drivers all have smartphones? Many ELD systems are Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), meaning you have a choice of hardware. Some only operate on one operating system, (android, IOS, or Windows). Some on two or all. Will you supply the smartphones/tablets? Or will you subsidize the drivers for using their phones. Monthly data loads are usually around 500 mb.
- Do we need help with fuel tax reporting? Some systems have jurisdiction data summary downloads or even autocompleted IFTA forms.
- Do we pay our drivers by the hour or mile/km? Payroll data can be extracted from many of the ELD backend programs.
- What is our current drivers’ logbook audit process? Most ELD’s are self auditing. Some are done at the backend. Many Safety Managers would like exception reporting.
- Do we need the Vehicle Inspection Reports to be accessed by the shop? A nice feature, the shop foreman gets any inspection report that shows defects noted.
- Do we need truck diagnostic data? Some systems run and record real time monitor gauges. This is particularly useful for owner operators.
- What are our documentation requirements? It is possible to run completely paperless: Bills of Lading, TDG documents, Field Tickets, Delivery Receipts, Fuel Receipts, etc.
Certainly, not the definitive list, but hopefully this will help you begin to define your needs.