The ELD mandate, started in 2017 and completely in effect by December 2019, required truckers and trucking companies to install Electronic Logging devices into all vehicles to record HoS (Hours of Service), as well as provide other benefits. Some owners/operators, who were not fully on board at the time, went for cheap ELD device providers to perhaps reduce the cost of installation and operations. But this hasn’t worked out all that well. From December 2017 to 2020, 1 in 4 trucking companies said that they had switched providers, some several times. This according to a survey by Overdrive Online. Among them, 32% said that the quality of the ELD devices was not up to the mark, and 22% revealed that their providers shut shop, leaving them high and dry.
Owners/operators are currently facing huge losses on the investment they made in the entire setup, wiring, subscriptions, fleet cards, and more. As is the nature of these things, the market is also heading for consolidation. That apart, most small agencies that offered ELDs at low rates earlier are unable to update their software and features as per the changing FMCSA regulations, hence, hurting truckers even more.
Further, the ELD vendors that couldn’t get too many customers and were limited to 200-300 vehicles are finding it difficult to survive. The COVID-19 pandemic has also driven many companies to cut down their workforce because of a lack of cash, and these ELD providers are no exception. Stories are that even companies that had significant market share are planning to shut down due to lack of manpower, a tighter market, absence of proper customer support, hardware/software/bug issues in the devices, and many more reasons.
Under such conditions, it’s getting increasingly important to find a reliable ELD partner for the long haul. If you’re wondering how to do that, the following suggestions can help.
Always look at the big picture
As you can see now that lower investments and cheaper options are not quite the best choices for the long term, you should now be ready to go bigger. For instance, you could think beyond electronic logging and opt for reliable providers, who can give you much more. Extra features, additional devices, and end-to-end technological integration can make your vehicles stand out and your operations too. So, it’s wise to pick a company that has a bigger technology vision to make your vehicles safe, convenient, and highly effective for the business you’re running.
Expandability and flexibility
Choose an ELD provider, who is ready to expand its market reach and innovate at every possible chance. This will give you a better scope of upgrading your vehicles according to the changing regulations from time to time. In a consolidated market, you should always keep some room for improvement, so that you can follow trends easily when technology changes. Hence, it’s beneficial to choose an ELD provider, who is flexible enough to stay on par with the current and upcoming trends and guide you in the right direction with your commercial vehicles. Your provider and you must be ready to adapt to technological advancements. Look for a solution with the potential of an open platform that can expand to integrate new features, be it accounting, logging, data-processing, or dispatching.
If you opt for a high-end device, you should ensure its operational convenience before installing it in your vehicles. Therefore, it’s crucial to know all about the device, its operations, and small issues and how to resolve them. Most truckers may not find it easy to get trained in managing complicated ELD operations, as it would mean more time, resources, and effort on their part. Hence, it’s important to choose a provider that offers easy-to-use and easy-to-maintain devices without compromising on the quality. And don’t forget, the devices should be Smartphone-compliant to ensure ease of accessibility and maintenance.
Rely on the quality of experience
This space is evolving rapidly so you may not find it necessary to put your faith in years of experience anymore, but the quality of experience that these providers have is key. If you are a small or mid-sized fleet, for instance, look at how many customers like you the ELFD provider has served. Look for such ELD providers, as they will be able to cater to your specific needs by offering satisfactory products and seamless services. Check their references and testimonials too for good measure.
The economy will always bring with it some ups and downs, both for trucking businesses and for ELD manufacturers and suppliers. Only time will tell who will survive and who will crash. But if you need to find an ELD partner for the long game, you should go for the providers who win market share because of their innovation, expandability flexibility, and openness. These companies will be able to cater to all your ELD needs, now and in the future too.