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.