prepare for the mandate, he said.
Jacksonville, Fla.-based truckload carrier Landstar System Inc. has tried to
emphasize to shippers the importance
of their role in making ELD compliance
work, according to Mike Cobb, Landstar’s
vice president of safety and compliance.
“It’s imperative that shippers understand
this. For the most part, though, shippers
don’t get it,” he said.
Private fleets, which are operated by
some of the country’s biggest retailers,
have a similarly cloudy view of the landscape, according to Ryder System Inc., the
Miami-based transportation giant that has
many large private fleet customers. “They
are either unaware of the compliance of
their drivers, or they know that they are
not complying but don’t have a way to
determine the total cost around how it will
affect them from a productivity or profitability standpoint,” said John Diez, president of Ryder’s Dedicated Transportation
Many shippers, of course, are very aware.
For example, some have taken the step of
informing their carriers that unless their
fleets are already ELD-compliant or that
they can show a firm roadmap to getting
there in the very near future, the shipper
will need to explore other options to get
its freight moved.
The irony is that, after a difficult transition
period during which a high-single-dig-it productivity drop is expected because
of reduced equipment utilization, ELD
implementation will ultimately yield a
more efficient and responsive trucking
supply chain, according to various experts.
John Seidl, a former Wisconsin state
trooper and FMCSA investigator who
is working with Austin, Texas-based
third-party logistics service company
Arrive Logistics to help carriers understand the mandate, said carrier revenues
will decline because fleets and drivers
won’t be chasing as much freight that rests
on the hours-of-service bubble. However,
efficiency and profitability gains should
offset the revenue decline because ELDs
will provide the needed visibility to optimize load planning, Seidl said.
Hodges of Titan expects that carriers
will struggle at first to master the
torrent of digital data coming at
them. Once they do, however, they
will be able to turn the data to their
advantage. After being behind the
productivity curve at the outset of
its ELD conversion five years ago,
Titan is notching gains today as a
result of the technology, he said.
Owner-operators can benefit
from ELD use, especially if they
drive exclusively for large carriers and are tied into their systems,
experts said. Solo drivers should
also be spending less time doing
paperwork and more time keeping
the wheels turning. “Our experience
has shown that once drivers experience the benefits of an electronic
log, they don’t want to go back
to paper logs,” said Tony Forrest,
director of product management
for Omnitracs LLC, a Dallas-based
fleet management software and systems provider.
The mandate will minister tough
love of sorts for shippers, who will
have to shed their long-held ambivalence toward the folks who haul
their freight. Harper of DAT said
shippers “will put pressure on their
docks to clean up their act,” adding
that the level of visibility enabled by
ELDs will be “startling” compared
with what is out there today.
The payoff will be a trucking
industry that’s held to a much higher standard than perhaps it has ever
been, according to Harper. “The
levels and expectations of service
that once applied only to big carriers will now apply to everyone,”
And as the industry sheds its rogue
status, drivers will finally get the
respect from shippers they deserve,
according to Hodges. “What the
mandate will do, over time, is end
the shipping and receiving public’s
abuse of drivers,” he said.