Electronic Logs: A Step-By-Step Guide for Produce Shippers

There are a lot of factors that go into being a produce shipper. Whether it’s the time you’re waiting at the dock to get unloaded or the constant fight against the clock to deliver fresh products, produce shippers don’t always have it easy. With a big change in the transportation industry set to take place in December 2017, produce shippers across the country can expect to see a transformation in the way they drive and deliver their product. Read more below to find out everything you need to know when it comes to electronic logs and their effect on produce shippers.

What’s the Deal with Electronic Logs?

If you haven’t already heard, the FMCSA implemented at ELD mandate requiring all truck operators to start using electronic logging devices to track their hours and duty status starting in December 2017. This mandate was set in place to increase the safety of drivers on the road and enforce the hours of service a driver can log. With the hope to fight dozing drivers and fatal accidents on the highway, the ELD mandate will effectively get rid of all paper logging that is currently in use today.

What Does This Mean for Produce Shippers?

Produce shippers require special sets of circumstances and additional complexities when shipping their products. Transporting produce means taking precaution and extra care to prevent spoilage and considering things like harvest seasons and bumper crops. Many produce truck drivers are on a strict timeline to get their product where it needs to be before it spoils, rots and becomes unsalvageable. This means produce shippers are often exceeding their allowed hours of time logged in order to deliver quality produce. With the ELD mandate in place and electronic logs put on all vehicles, it will be impossible for drivers to exceed the hours of service limit. This could mean an increase in cost for the shippers, a decrease of pay for the drivers, and a longer wait time for produce.

 

Less Standby Time

A survey done by DAT solutions found that out of 257 carriers questioned, 54% reported waiting three to five hours every time they pulled up to a shipper’s dock. Nine percent reported waiting even more than five hours on average. When you take into consideration the cost of keeping an idle refrigerated truck running for long periods of time that’s a lot of time and money going down the drain. The good news is that with the new ELD mandate and strict hours of service regulations, drivers will see a decrease in wasted standby time.

An Increase of Rates and Need for Trucks

The not so good news that comes out of the ELD mandate is that with produce drivers unable to exceed the regulated hours of service and no longer driving through the night, produce will very likely see an increase in transit time. The problem is that when it comes to perishable items like produce, an increase in transit time can lead to spoilage. This means that shipping companies are going to have to hire more trucks and drivers to get the produce to its destination on time. This is going to cost the companies money, meaning they’ll have to raise their shipping prices to break even. It’s very likely that because of the electronic logs and an increase in shipping rates, consumers could see an increase in the price of produce in the near future.

Bottom Line

The ELD mandate and the implementation of electronic logs have been causing a stir across the transportation industry. There are both good sides and bad ones to enforcing drivers to use electronic logs and increasing regulation on hours of service. When it comes to produce shippers, time is money. With fewer hours available to work, there will likely be an increase in rates for shippers and produce that can have a ripple effect on entire communities.

ELD Mandate Time Line: A Look at Key Dates and Milestones for 2017 & What They Mean

The ELD mandate can be confusing at times with all its details and requirements. Luckily for you, we’re here to break down the ELD mandate timeline for 2017 and what it means for truck operators across the country.

If you’re involved in the transportation industry you’ve probably already heard about the federal rule that was implemented back in December 2015 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This mandate requires that truck operators start using an electronic logging device to record their driving miles and duty status. The mandate explicitly states that all truck drivers must stop using paper logs and make the transition to ELD’s two years after the mandate’s introduction, December 16, 2017.

What makes the ELD mandate so confusing is that it’s being implemented in several phases over several different dates. Below we explain each date in the implementation phase, what they mean, and what the requirements are that need to be met by each date.

Here are the three important stand out dates that you need to know about the ELD mandate.

  • December 16, 2015 – Publication date. This is the date that the ELD mandate was first introduced and made public, announcing its presence but not yet having any official status.
  • February 16, 2016 – Effective date. This is the date that falls exactly 60 days after the publication date, which means the mandate is officially in the Federal Register.
  • December 18, 2017 – Compliance date. This is the date when all truck operators have to make the full transition complying with all of the mandate’s regulations. It falls two years after the first publication date.

Now that you’ve got a basic understanding of how the ELD mandate has been unfolding from its original publication date in 2015, let’s talk about its three phases.

Phase 1: Awareness and Transition Phase

This first phase in the mandate stretches over a two-year period starting on the effective date February 16, 2017, and ending on the compliance date December 18, 2017. During Phase 1, carriers and truck drivers are given time to prepare and transition to the rules of the mandate. This means that they don’t have to necessarily start using ELD’s right away, but they should start becoming familiar with how they work and comfortable with the idea of transitioning into this new way of doing things.

During Phase 1, drivers and carriers can still use any of the following in order to record their duty status:

  • Paper logs
  • Logging software
  • AOBRDS (Automatic On Board Recording Devices)
  • ELDs registered and listed on the FMCSA website

Phase 2: Phased-In Compliance Phase

The second phase is a two-year period that starts from the compliance date December 18, 2017, and ends two years later December 16, 2019. It’s important to keep this second phase in mind because the start date for it is coming up soon. During this compliance phase, carriers and truck drivers are required to eliminate all paper logs and logging software they have been previously using to record their duty status.

Starting December 18, 2017, all carriers and drivers are required to use on of the following:

  • AOBRDS that were installed before December 18, 2017
  • ELDs that are certified and registered according to the rule publication from December 16, 2015

Phase 3: Full Compliance Phase

The third and final phase of the ELD mandate starts when the second one ends on December 16, 2019. After this date, all drivers and carriers that fall under the mandate rule must be using certified and registered ELDs that comply with all the ELD regulations.

There you have it, all the important dates and phases of the ELD mandate timeline from its implementation to its effective stay. If you’re a truck operator who is going to be affected by the ELD mandate, an important date to watch out for in 2017 is the compliance date on December 18, 2017, which is also the start of Phase 2. Say goodbye to your paper logs and logging software, and hello to the future of duty status recording – the ELD!

ELD Exemptions: Who is Exempt from the Rule in 2017?

ELD Mandates and what they mean for shippers has been the talk of the industry for the past several months. Inevitably, there will be much confusion on the road to compliance.

First, what are Electronic Logging Devices anyway? You can learn more about that in our recent blog article. There’s a lot to know, but despite all these new rules and regulations, there are some minor exceptions. What are those exceptions? We break down the ELD exemptions here for you so you can get on the road and be up to code.

Who is exempt from the ELD rule?

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA):

“Drivers who use the timecard exception are not required to keep records of duty status (RODS) or use ELDs.  Additionally, the following drivers are not required to use ELDs; however, they are still bound by the RODS requirements in 49 CFR 395 and must prepare logs on paper, using an Automatic On-Board Recording Device (AOBRD), or with a logging software program when required”

Source: FMCSA website.

This includes:

Drivers who use paper RODS for not more than 8 days out of every 30-day period

If you are a driver not required to maintain Record of Duty Status (RODS), then you don’t have to comply with the ELD Mandate. What is RODS? The driver’s record of duty status, commonly known as the driver log, is the document used by the driver to record their time on the road. A driver’s RODS status is defined in 49 CFR 395.8. 

Drivers who conduct drive-away-tow-away operations, where the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered.

A driveaway-towaway operation describes any operation in which any motor vehicle, trailer or semitrailer, singly or in combination, new or used, constitutes the commodity being transported when one set or more wheels of any such vehicle are on the roadway during the course of transportation between:

  • A vehicle manufacturer’s facilities
  • Between a vehicle manufacturer and a dealership or purchaser
  • Between a dealership, or other entity selling or leasing the vehicle, and a purchaser or lessee;
  • To a motor carrier’s terminal or repair facility for a repair or disabling damage following a crash
  • To a motor carrier’s terminal or repair facility for repairs associated with the failure of a vehicle component or system; or
  • By means of a saddle-mount tow-bar

Drivers of vehicles manufactured before 2000.

In the instance that your vehicle was manufactured before the year 2000, you may be exempt. But, the ELD may use alternative sources to obtain or estimate the required vehicle parameters, in accordance with the accuracy requirements in Section 4.3.1 of the ELD rule.

Are rented or leased commercial motor vehicles exempt from the ELD rule?

No. If you are a motor vehicle carrier operating rented or leased commercial motor vehicles, you are still required to record hours of service with an ELD, no exceptions, unless the driver or commercial motor vehicle carrier is exempt.

In regards to support information requested, authorized safety officials may inspect and copy motor carrier records and request any records needed to perform their duties.

Are Canada- and Mexico-domiciled drivers required to use electronic logging devices (ELDs) when they are operating in the United States?

Yes, if you live in Canada or Mexico, drivers have to comply with US rules while driving in the United States. This includes the use of ELDs unless they have an exception. If the driver is operating in multiple jurisdictions, they’ll be able to annotate their driver RODS to denote periods of operation outside of the US.

How should an ELD record a driver’s hours of service when operating in another country such as Canada?

The ELD provider can alter a device to suit its customers’ needs/operations in accurately monitoring drivers’ hours.

Can drivers operate commercial motor vehicles equipped with ELDs if they are not required to use them due to an exception?

This is possible, yes. Even if you drive a CMV equipped with ELD technology you can still use an exception.

How can the model year of commercial motor vehicle (CMVs) be found to determine if the CMV was manufactured before 2000 for the exception related to these vehicles?

The model year information necessary to make the determination can be found in this table:

Code Year Code Year Code Year Code Year Code Year Code Year
A = 1980 L = 1990 Y = 2000 A = 2010 L = 2020 Y = 2030
B = 1981 M = 1991 1 = 2001 B = 2011 M = 2021 1 = 2031
C = 1982 N = 1992 2 = 2002 C = 2012 N = 2022 2 = 2032
D = 1983 P = 1993 3 = 2003 D = 2013 P = 2023 3 = 2033
E = 1984 R = 1994 4 = 2004 E = 2014 R = 2024 4 = 2034
F = 1985 S = 1995 5 = 2005 F = 2015 S = 2025 5 = 2035
G = 1986 T = 1996 6 = 2006 G = 2016 T = 2026 6 = 2036
H = 1987 V = 1997 7 = 2007 H = 2017 V = 2027 7 = 2037
J = 1988 W = 1998 8 = 2008 J = 2018 W = 2028 8 = 2038
K = 1989 X = 1999 9 = 2009 K = 2019 X = 2029 9 = 2039

The model year code is the 10th digit in the VIN.

If a commercial motor vehicle is equipped with a glider kit that is newer than the model year 2000, but the connections and motor vehicle components (such as the engine) are older than the model year 2000, is the vehicle exempt from the ELD rule?

No. ELD use is required for vehicles whose VINs reflects a model year of 2000 or newer. The ELD rule requires a reasonable proxy for this data if the engine control module (ECM) or ECM connectivity does not provide it. If the currently installed engine cannot support an ECM to obtain the required vehicle parameters, then the operator has to use an ELD that doesn’t rely on ECM connectivity.

Can a driver use an ELD on a commercial motor vehicle with a model year older than 2000?

Yes. However, the ELD must comply with the ELD rule’s technical specifications. The ELD may use alternative sources to obtain or estimate the required vehicle parameters, in accordance with the accuracy requirements in Section 4.3.1 of the ELD rule.

 

Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) —What Are They Anyway?

In case you haven’t heard, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or the FMCSA finalized an Electronic Logging Device (or ELD) mandate in December 2015. Ever since they published the mandate, electronic logging devices have been a hot topic amongst folks in the transportation industry. We’re here to talk about what exactly are electric logging devices and how they work.

What Exactly is an Electronic Logging Device?

To put it simply, an ELD is an electronic piece of technology that was created for truck drivers so they could easily track their hours of service (HOS). The idea is that by having a legitimate and automated way to track truckers’ hours, they won’t go over the legal limit of hours worked. This is supposed to keep both truckers and other drivers on the road safer by fighting truckers’ driving fatigue.

An ELD connects to the truck’s engine and can electronically record when the truck is in motion and when it’s not. It also allows drivers to login in their hours by selecting on-duty, off-duty or on-duty not driving. The driver’s driving record, status and hours logged are then displayed on a graphically on a screen so they can easily see their stats.

Another feature of electronic logging devices is that they are able to transmit data to both shippers and law enforcement via wireless web, USB and even Bluetooth. While the FMCSA hasn’t released the standards for official ELDs, electronic logging devices come in a variety of shapes and sizes created by different manufacturers.

How Much Does an ELD Cost?

Electronic logging devices can actually be quite expensive and end up costing shippers a large chunk of change. The FMCSA estimates that companies can expect to pay anywhere from $165 to $832 dollars annually for a single ELD. The average price of the most popular ELD on the market now is $495 per truck.

While ELDs can have a large upfront expense for shippers, they are projected to actually save money over time. They eliminate the need for paperwork and hand logging while also reducing the number of hours that truckers are authorized to work. New ELDs are also being introduced by manufacturers that meet the FMCSA standards but come at a much cheaper price.

There has also been an introduction of ELDs for smartphones and tablets in the form of applications. These solutions could save installation and maintenance fees and reduce the overall cost by a large percentage for shippers.

How Do ELDS Save Time and Money?

The whole point of the FMCSA introducing ELDs is to save truckers and shippers both time and money. So, just exactly how do ELDs do that? Well, before the ELD mandate was introduced, truck drivers had to log all their hours manually on paperwork.

The FMCSA projected that drivers could save upwards of $705 every year just by eliminating the cost of paperwork. They also estimated that drivers were spending 20 or more hours every year logging, filing and sending out their drivers logs. By getting rid of any work needed to be done by the driver, an ELD can do all the logging and recording automatically saving drivers time and money.

 

How Else Can ELDs Benefit Drivers?

Aside from saving drivers time and money, and increasing safety on roads electronic logging devices can decrease fuel costs by monitoring excessive truck idle times and speeding. They can also help build incentives for drivers who increase their fuel efficiency. ELDs also work to lower the total crash rate. In fact, drivers who were using ELDs had an 11.7% reduction in crashes than drivers who weren’t using ELDS.

ELDs are a hotly debated topic in the transportation industry right now as drivers are beginning to make the transition towards using electronic logging devices on their vehicles. Now that you know what ELDs are all about and how they work, you can join in on the discussion!

How the ELD mandate impacts the trucking industry

 

Over the past few years, the trucking industry has seen a lot of changes.  Following the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), signed in 2011- shippers, carriers, and supply chain professionals have been forced to adhere to a new set of strict requirements. In an effort to prevent food-borne illnesses, carriers must comply with a variety of food safety precautions including temperature monitoring, cleanliness, training, and data retention. (You can read more about that here).

The biggest hurdle, however, came in December 2015 when the FMCSA announced the ELD mandate.  The new rule requires all commercial motor vehicles to be equipped with certified Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) in order to enforce accurate hours-of-service (HOS) recordings.  The FMCSA reasoning for the new ruling is as follows … “to improve roadway safety by employing technology to strengthen commercial truck and bus drivers’ compliance with hours-of-service regulations that prevent fatigue.”

 

The ELD mandate is perhaps the biggest change seen by the trucking industry in over 50 years and one that many people are unhappy with. There’s no doubt it will have a dramatic impact on the industry. What’s not as clear, is exactly how. In an effort to gain more clarity on the topic, we will discuss the implications of the ELD mandate and how it impacts the trucking industry.

 

PRODUCTIVITY

Productivity is one area that no one seems to agree on. The initial thought was that ELDs would help to increase productivity for drivers by acting as a personal time-management tool. Matter of fact, the FMCSA estimates that the ELD mandate will result in a $2.44 billion savings. Most of which will be attributed to the amount of time drivers will save by not having to complete and submit time logs.

There has been a lot of skeptics, to say the least. Numerous reports have emerged that claim quite the opposite. John Larkin, managing director of transportation capital markets research, estimates the trucking industry will actually lose between 3% and 5% of its overall productivity once the federal regulations for ELDs go into full effect. He adds that small carriers will be most negatively affected, losing an estimated 6% to 10% of overall productivity.

 

COST

The FMCSA projects the ELDs to save over $1.6 billion annually from paperwork savings alone. They also suggest carriers will save in additional ways, with decreased fuel costs, reduced truck downtime and lowered total crash rates, to name a few. Even still, $1.6 billion in paperwork savings in slightly hard to believe.

Here’s a breakdown of the findings from a Regulatory Impact Analysis by FMCSA.

Estimated paperwork savings per driver per year:

  • Driver Filling RODS: $487
  • Driver Submitting RODS: $56
  • Clerk Filling Rods: $120
  • Elimination of paper driver log books: 42
  • Total: $705 per year in paperwork savings

Let’s face it, the savings are impressive, but do they make up for the costs of implementing the ELDs? The most common device will cost carriers about $495, per truck. For a small or medium-sized business, that’s a huge expense. One that could drastically change the state of their business.

 

SAFETY

The driving force behind the ELD mandate is first and foremost, safety. The ELD mandate applies to over 3 million drivers on the road. That’s 3 million drivers that could cause fewer accidents due to fatigue and inaccurate HOS logging. An analysis by the FMCSA, predicts that the ELD mandate will prevent approximately 20 fatalities and 434 injuries each year, due to driver fatigue. By ditching the paper and pen method and adopting the ELD method, it will ensure all drivers are following the specific safety and compliance standards.

 

Sources:

ELDFacts
FleetOwner.com
OverDriveOnline
FMCSA.gov