Best Practices Used by Freight Companies to Transition from AOBRD to ELD

January 15, 2020

The provision of the ELD mandate that “grandfathered” automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) for two years expired last month. William Cassidy, Senior Editor of Journal of Commerce, had a chance to speak with Coretex’s ELD experts Craig Marris, Executive Vice President of Mixed Fleets, and David Blackwell, Product Manager, to gain an understanding of implementation successes and predictions for the future of the market:

William: Did you see major implementation issues with fleet companies in their transition from AOBRD to ELD?

David: Yeah, there were a few. From our point of view, we had two groups of carriers: one coming from paper and the other coming from AOBRD. Those coming from paper to ELD actually had an easier time than those coming from AOBRD to ELD.

I think the expectation from AOBRD users was that there would not be much of a challenge transitioning to ELD. What we found with implementing ELD that there were significant changes, one of them being Yard Moves where you’re required to register every movement over five miles an hour and must identify drive time if it’s more than 30 minutes. With AOBRD maybe they just created one generic login that everybody used to move around the yard that wasn't allowed with ELD so they had to actually change their business practices to accommodate.

Another change was with the number of unidentified records. This showed that maybe there were some holes in their AOBRD that weren't really requiring them to assign all those unidentified records. These are just a few requirements that created a big impact on people coming from AOBRD.

William: What were some of the best practices used that made the transition from AOBRD to ELD successfully?

Craig: The companies that succeeded made plans well in advance to review vendors, implement their ELD solution, understand the complexity of new rules, and finally train drivers.  For instance with our client Old Dominion Freight Line, once the less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier identified Coretex for their ELD solution, the transition including installation and training took eight months.

ODFL are now finding ELDs, with their rich data, fast connections and geo-fencing capabilities, provide more comprehensive, location-specific and timely data than their previous AOBRD. That’s real-time operational intelligence that trucking companies can employ to the shipper’s benefit through improved, more accurate pickup and delivery times as well as better compliance with customer-specific needs.

William: How are other companies the industry adapting to their ELDs?

Craig: I anticipate there's going to be a lot of change in platform providers this year and into 2021 due to either driver dissatisfaction or ELDs not working as advertised. Many of the current issues we see with prospective clients coming to us is their frustration around the lack of integration capabilities with their new ELDs. Integrating data into transportation management systems is really critical. If an ELD provider can’t do that right, it can really affect the business in so many ways and introduce instability and unnecessary cost.

David: I agree. It was a crazy year with everybody just scrambling to get a provider in the end. Some rushed for whatever solution was the easiest to implement at the last minute. Similar to a cell phone or cable company, we’re going to see companies wanting to make a switch to a more reliable and cost-effective ELD solution.

William: Have you seen a difference in how drivers at different ages react to the technology? 

David: Driver satisfaction truly impacts business. For many companies this was the first time introducing technology into the cab. What I hear from our end-users, regardless of age, is how much easier the Coretex system is to use than the other solutions they evaluated.

With a newer technology stack, we were able to make the ELD specifically designed so that it's no harder to use than any other app. You shouldn't need a 60 page manual to use it and you should be able to intuitively use it without instruction, if you are familiar with Android or iOS. As long as we continue to develop a product that is easy for any user, I don't think that for older drivers it's really going to matter. 

William: Where does the industry go from here?

Craig: The shippers now are starting to take a lot more interest in what their performance is regarding on time delivery. Added to that, they want to look at things like offload rates, time on lot, even temperature monitoring as part of an extended platform.

They're really interested in this data for compliance, food safety, and modernization reasons.

We see a keen interest in aggregating that data up to a visibility platform. For some of the carriers to be competitive and keep their contracts with their shippers, they're going to have to look at this, and adopt a platform that's going to allow them to be able to provide this information. There is a fantastic opportunity for fleets to start focusing on the visibility of the entire supply chain.

I also think it is interesting that the trailers themselves are getting a lot smarter. Having the ability to get tractor and trailer performance information to the driver. For example, if the ABS brakes are not working or an array of other engine fault codes. Now that drivers have a user interface to receive this data, it’s an incredible boost to safety.

Lastly, there are new opportunities for data mining and machine learning to take data from multiple sources and produce actionable intelligence and predictive analytics to manage fleets in the future.