By Sarah Nicastro, publisher/editor in chief, Field Technologies
Last week was the deadline for compliance with the ELD mandate. However, many statistics are flying around about the number of companies required to be compliant that have yet to roll out an ELD solution. Avoiding the mandate, however, won’t make it go away.
Paul Hamilton, director of transportation at California Freight, understands the feelings of those that simply want to ignore the whole ELD situation, because he experienced a lot of those same feelings himself. “At first, it was hard not to think of it as ‘oh great, something else we have to do.’ Our jobs are hard enough, there is so much already to manage,” he says. “But at the same time, once you begin researching the mandate and the ELD technology, you begin to see some of the opportunity it can bring, too.”
Hamilton took the chance to make a shift with the company’s GPS fleet management solution when he evaluated ELD options, because he wanted to have both solutions from one, single provider. Cal Freight ultimately chose Fleet Complete, powered by BigRoad. “We have our tablets and the entire solution through AT&T,” he explains. “If we have questions, or an issue comes up on any of it, it’s one call we make to get answers.”
Cal Freight began rolling out the solution in March of this year, because they wanted to give employees time to get comfortable with the solution before December hit and compliance was mandatory. Just as Hamilton experienced mixed emotions about the mandate and major change, the drivers did as well. “The drivers’ reactions ranged from fine with it all, which came mostly from drivers that had prior experience using technology, to frustrated and scared about what it would mean to them – which came mostly from drivers that don’t have a lot of experience with technology.” Hamilton goes on to explain that some drivers are compensated on a pay-per-mile basis, and in these instances, the ELD mandate can raise extra concerns because those drivers fear the technology will somehow negatively impact their overall workload.
To this Hamilton tells them, “look, real-time information will ultimately help you maximize your working hours, because that’s both your goal and the company’s goal.” But it’s a major change for drivers that have a comfort level, and perception of control, in completing paper logs. The automation of it all can be disconcerting to them, and it takes time to help them become comfortable in relinquishing that perceived control.
The best antidote to any negative reaction to ELD is education. “BigRoad has a lot of resources we can use to train employees, including some really good videos and documentation,” says Hamilton. “We use those resources, but there is nothing that can beat face-to-face training.” It is important to put in that live, one-on-one time to give insight on why the technology is being used, and how it has the opportunity to positively impact them. “The other aspect that is crucial in training is that you take it at their pace,” explains Hamilton. “Someone that hasn’t used a tablet needs far different training than someone that has.”
Once Hamilton got past his initial eye-rolling of the ELD mandate bringing “one more thing to do,” he began to realize the opportunity that existed if Cal Freight was smart about how it utilized the technology. “Sure, if all you’re doing is rolling out the technology simply to be compliant, it is expensive and a huge headache,” he says. “But if you look past the headache to look for the opportunity, you begin to see how all of the data you’re collecting can be put to use to really drive the efficiency of your company.” For example, pre-ELD Cal Freight was at the mercy of a hand-written timesheet handed in at the end of a pay period – and now the company has real-time visibility into the activity of each worker.
Hamilton notes that he’s happy the company started in March, because they now have drivers thanking them for being proactive. “We had a driver get stopped recently and grilled by the officer,” he says. “The driver had everything he needed – all of the right technology, information, and documentation. He was proud.”
While it is too late to get a “head start” per se, the sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll see success. “I get how hard it is, I really do – but it’s a move that has to be made. The sooner you can adopt the thinking of it being an opportunity for your business, the quicker you’ll see the benefits,” says Hamilton.
If you’ve yet to select an ELD solution, read our special report for important considerations.