By Bill Cornelisse, CAIB; Rick Smith, CCIB, CRM, CAIB, C.Dir; Lori Gropp, CAIB; Russ Collicott; and Scott Schultz, CAIB
Three months into this “educational enforcement period,” carriers are still navigating the new landscape and starting to get what they need to be compliant with the new federally-mandated ELD laws.
While getting compliant is a big step, it is just the first one.
Once you get the fundamental details sorted, it’s time to go beyond on compliance to see how you can turn this challenge into an opportunity – a chance to evolve and take your fleet performance to the next level and grow your business.
Here are some key topics to ensure you do just that:
Navigating the Provincial Differences
A key to nailing your ELD deployment properly is understanding all the unique provincial Hours of Service (HOS) that might change how carriers deploy and utilize their ELDs, depending on where they operate.
Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia all have a specific set of HOS rules that take precedence over federal legislation if the fleet operates in that province only.
Carriers and drivers may be regulated by the above provincial HOS rules, or by the federal rules, but not both; therefore, it is up to drivers and carriers to know which regulations they must follow in order to remain compliant – and although there are similarities between these province’s rules and those for the rest of Canada, there are some key differences in all.
With all this in mind, all the various exemptions, exceptions, and rule sets, relying solely on these new ELDs for compliance raises some legitimate concerns for carriers in the Western provinces. One major reason being that ELD providers do not have programs that work with many provincials HOS mandates. This is a huge obstacle right now.
On the upside, Transport Canada has left the decision to the provinces on how they will handle the ELDs in their province. Like the federal rollout, all Western provinces have decided to go with an extended education and awareness window, where no tickets will be issued and paper logs are allowed to help navigate this new regulation landscape. They are also allowing time for certified ELDs with the right provincial HOS capacities to come online.
Which bring us to our next key issue in nailing your ELD rollout:
Selecting the Right ELD Provider
Transport Canada has made it a little easier by having carriers choose from an official list of certified vendors, but there are still a ton of ins-and-outs to consider when selecting an ELD system. Use this education period to do the right research and be ready. A lot of your ELD success depends on this choice.
The first thing to reckon with here is the lackluster interest in third party certification so far and the fact that it’s looking like many ELD vendors will not be going through the onerous process of getting certified in Canada.
If you have a provider already, there’s a good chance it’s not certified. Owner-operators should contact their current ELD provider with the following questions to determine if they are a safe bet for the Canadian market:
• Will you adapt/modify/program your ELD to be compliant with Canadian ELD and HOS rules? The adaptation is not a simple task and can take several months.
• If so, what are their plans to get third party certification? Have they applied to a government-approved body for certification?
• If so, have they signed a contract and submitted devices for testing?
If they are certified, here’s the top features and capabilities to ensure you get the best system for your operation:
1. Provincial Compliance Compatibility: This will make or break your ELD rollout. Make sure your ELD systems, regardless of where you are in Canada, support your provincial HOS rule set.
2. Files International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) reports: Choose a solution that tracks miles by jurisdiction, allows your drivers to upload fuel receipts, and integrates with your fuel card provider.
3. GPS Tracking: Seems obvious, but not all GPS have what you need. Look for one with vehicle AND asset tracking, ETA auto updates, geofencing reporting, and historical GPS analysis to get the right capabilities.
4. Advanced Safety Features: When on the hunt, ensure your system has real-time alerts for critical events such as harsh braking, hard corners, and speeding; automatic categorization of the cause of the critical event, such as tailgating or improper lane changes; customizable driver scorecards to easily identify your most dangerous drivers; a “coaching workflow” that allows you to track and document coaching efforts; built-in dash cams that automatically capture footage of critical events; an ability to view dash-cam footage in real-time and request videos from the past.
5. Driver Communication and Dispatch: A fleet management solution should also help your team streamline and centralize communication with instant messaging to drivers with read receipts; broadcast messages to all drivers or specific groups; the ability to send and store documents such as proof of delivery and receipts; driver workflow/dispatch integration with customizable forms.
6. Robust Data Analysis: Many solutions simply present the data in a spreadsheet-like format. Unless you have a team of data scientists in-house, it could be challenging to find problems, trends, and opportunities. Look for a solution that makes it easy to identify what is out of the ordinary and where your opportunities for optimization are.
Make Sure Your Data Works For You, Not Against You
In every pitch or marketing material you come across, you’ll be inundated with talk about the infinite profitable power of “data.” But there is a huge warning, usually not mentioned in these ads.
The reality is that data is only as good as the carrier’s usage of it. In fact, data can actually work against a carrier!
You should also be cognizant of the fact that insurers could potentially ask for this ELD data to assess a risk. And heavy commercial carriers could be in for a further challenge with insurers if their data shows a trend of high-risk critical events and patterns on multiple, or even a majority of, drivers for a company, which may indicate a lack of proper safety practices being implemented.
On top of that, if your data shows a history of dangerous driving and this ‘flag’ is ignored and brought up in court, a carrier could be facing charges of gross negligence.
Data changes the landscape of not how carriers view their operation but how insurers, and possibly courts, determine risk and claims. So be sure you’re proactively working with and utilizing your data for your own advantage so it can’t be turned against you.
Using ELDs to Reduce Risk and Preserve Margins
1. Tracking Idling and Reducing Fuel Costs
With the constant rise and ever tightening margins, fuel costs are always front of mind these days. Your ELD fleet data can help reduce costs that come from idling too often and too long as well as managing fuel consumption by setting the right software-based rules to provide actionable driver behaviour data.
2. Fleet Asset and Vehicle Data
Users can create asset movement reports by looking at distance within a set timeframe so they can benchmark individual vehicle performance. This fleet utilization data can help you understand which assets are being underutilized (or overutilized) allowing you to right-size your fleet and maximize vehicle and asset utilization.
3. Tracking Driver Behavior to Improve Safety
In addition to fleet tracking systems and ELDs collecting driver behavior data on idling, fleet managers are also using these data points to identify and correct unsafe driving habits.
ELDs on an open platform with integrated cameras can monitor distraction situations to reduce distracted driving; meanwhile, track and score driver seat-belt use, hard-braking habits and speed to build driver education programs that help improve safety and reduce risk.
4. Analyzing Fleet Data to Improve Operational Efficiency
There are also ways to improve your operational efficiency looking at the data captured by your ELD. Your system likely provides location start time, end time and time on-site data points. You can use this information to develop a baseline of metrics to determine how efficiently your operations are running and identify areas that require improvement. For example, fleet managers can set up geographic zones which can trigger notifications of events happening outside of an allowed area which indicates whether an action is allowed or disallowed based upon location. You can also set up productivity rules to identify instances of late arrival, early leave, unauthorized stops and long stops during work hours.
5. Improve Fleet Uptime by Tracking Diagnostic Data
The data from a telematics device can facilitate proactive vehicle monitoring, greatly reducing fleet operating expenses related to maintenance and repair. Repairing your vehicles on the side of the road costs much more than repairing a vehicle in your shop. This fleet data can be used to get ahead of preventative maintenance before your vehicle suffers a significant failure and while your driver is off duty.