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 Mandates: What They Mean for Shippers in 2017

The ELD mandates have been a hot topic in the transportation industry ever since their announcement last year by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The idea behind the ELD, or electronic logging device, mandate is to improve safety in the transportation industry.

If you didn’t already know, an ELD is a device that is synchronized with a vehicle’s engine so it can record driving time automatically. This makes it easier for drivers to log their time on the job and provide a more accurate number than traditional paper logs. By having this system automated, the drivers’ safety and the safety of other drivers on the road will greatly increase.

The mandate states that all carriers and drivers need to have ELDs installed by the appropriate deadline. Those shippers who are still using paper logs or other logging software have to transition to the ELDs before December 18, 2017. The new ELD mandates are a huge change to drivers and shippers across the country.

These mandates are going to transform the way drivers work, the safety on the road, and shipping companies’ enforcement of protocol. There are people on both sides of the ELD mandates—some who think they are going to change the industry for the better, and others who think it will be for the worse. Read more below to find out what all the hubbub about ELD mandates is really about, and what it means for shippers in 2017.

What’s the Purpose of the ELD Mandates?

The FMCSA states that its objective for imposing the ELD mandates is to considerably strengthen commercial truck drivers’ compliance with hours of service regulations. By doing this, their plan is to reduce the amount of driving fatigue that leads to unsafe roads. Aside from recording driving hours, the ELDs will monitor the driver’s location, miles, and even vehicle movement. This kind of technology in the transportation industry can be transformative and is definitely going to be a game changer for drivers everywhere this year.

So, what did driver’s do before the introduction of ELDs? The answer to that is simple—they wrote down their hours on a paper log. It’s a method akin to something you would see before the invention of computers, but it is one the transportation industry still relies on to this day. This system was long due for an overhaul, which is where the ELD mandates come in. Although it may seem like ELDs are a great fix-all solution to driver safety and efficiency, there is a lot of controversy around how much ELDs are actually going to benefit drivers.

Why Truck Drivers are Concerned

There are a number of reasons why the drivers who this mandate effect are concerned about its implications on their work hours, pay and flexibility. ELD’s mean less privacy for drivers and a harder time managing shipper expectations.

Inflexibility

Many truck drivers are concerned that the ELD will have a significant impact on their pay. The FMCSA wants to put a strict enforcement of the 55 hour work week legal limits. But for most drivers, this just isn’t their reality. The mandate could put a strain on how much they could potentially earn in a week because they now have to adhere to 55 hours a week max. This diminishes any flexibility for drivers when it comes to logging hours during the week.

Costs

Shippers are also concerned about the costs that come with an ELD. For starters, one ELD can cost on average $584 for one truck to install. On top of that, there is another $20 monthly fee shippers have to pay for subscription services and maintenance. A recent solution to this problem is the availability of aftermarket ELD options, and the allowance of ELD smart phone apps by the FMSCA. Both of these options could keep costs down considerably.

ELDs Could Make Carriers Less Efficient

In order to meet shippers’ high demands, it isn’t unheard of for drivers to go over the legal hours per week work limit. With the ELD mandate, this would render the ability to do so completely impossible. A lot of people in the transportation industry are worried about the effects of the ELD and the pressure to meet shipper’s demands. The argument is that with less time allowed to log, drivers will feel the need to engage in aggressive driving such as speeding, passing and tailgating to make up for the lost time.
Benefits of ELDs

While there are plenty of negatives about the ELD mandate out there, let’s talk some of the positive changes it can bring to the transportation industry. Some of the positive effects include:

• Enhanced ability to monitor drivers
• Safer roads for drivers and everybody else
• A convenient depart from traditional paper logs
• A saving on the shipper’s end for operation costs
• Less fuel used with fewer hours worked

There is a lot of talk about the ELD mandates and how they are going to affect the transportation industry, for shippers and drivers alike. Whether your pro ELD, against it or somewhere in between, the mandates aren’t going anywhere. Only time will tell how beneficial ELDs truly are to shippers across the nation.