In recent years, most carriers have adopted electronic logging devices (ELDs) to comply with the FMCSA’s ELD mandate. While many initially viewed ELDs as a burden, that view quickly shifted for those who chose the right solution.

Why? Because ELD solutions can provide an unprecedented amount of data about a carrier’s operations if they’re part of a leading fleet management solution. The right solution can turn this data into tangible insights that can help increase profitability and help your business grow.

In this article, we will walk through how a fleet management solution can help fleet managers use their ELD data to:

  • Reduce fuel usage
  • Avoid collisions
  • Prevent vehicle breakdowns
  • Avoid detention time
  • Right size their fleet

Reduce fuel usage with idle time tracking

According to ATRI, fuel makes up 24 percent of operational costs. This number has been trending up in recent years as fuel prices rebound off their 2016 lows. There are many ways that fleet ELD data can be used to reduce fuel usage, but idle time is one of the most significant opportunities.

A heavy-duty truck uses about .8 gallons of fuel for every hour spent idling. Each year, the average truck idles about 1,800 hours. This is an annual expenditure of $4,464 per vehicle at a diesel price of $3.10.

An ELD can track how long each driver spends idling and calculate the amount of fuel used. Motive’s ELD data (shown below) is displayed in a report that makes identifying drivers’ idling fast and easy:

Of course, idling can be a sensitive issue. For example, some drivers may be idling for heat or air conditioning. In this situation, many fleets are turning to Auxiliary Power Units and other in-cab climate control options that while expensive upfront, are generally ROI positive over a few years.

Additionally, an increasing number of fleets have begun to create incentive programs around idling and other key metrics. Drivers with low idling rates are given a bonus, which makes limiting idle time a financial win for both parties. It’s easier to change behavior with a carrot rather than a stick.

Improve driving behavior and avoid collisions

No matter how seriously you take safety, collisions are always a risk. Beyond the duty to get drivers home safely, there are significant financial implications that can derail a business. In fact, the average accident costs $91,000, and that number rises to $200,000 if there’s an injury.

Some ELDs can also monitor the hard braking, hard acceleration, and hard cornering events for each driver in your fleet. This data is then used to calculate a safety ranking as part of a customizable driver scorecard:

With this data, you can prioritize your coaching efforts to focus on the riskiest drivers. You can also reward your safest drivers to help ensure they stay with your company.

Advanced solutions can do so much more with your ELD data by adding a dashcam. For example, Motive automatically tags the cause of dangerous driving events such as lane cutoffs or tailgating. This is especially powerful as drivers with a tailgating violation have a 46 percent higher crash risk.

Additionally, by monitoring dangerous driving behavior, you can also use less fuel. For example, a heavy-duty truck uses 20 percent more fuel at 65 mph than at 55 mph.

Prevent vehicle breakdowns

Vehicle breakdowns are expensive. Beyond the part replacements, you’re often paying for a tow truck and external mechanics. Freight delays from breakdowns can also upset key customers, resulting in a loss of future business.

Some ELDs can constantly monitor your fleet’s vehicles for fault codes and list them in easy-to-interpret reports. You can even set up real-time alerts.

With this data, you can:

  • Provide maintenance staff with a complete list of vehicle issues to resolve every issue in a single appointment
  • Proactively plan maintenance out on the road when the vehicle is near an auto shop where you have a discount
  • Ensure vehicles with critical issues are taken off the road immediately, often preventing the issue from becoming more serious and possibly even causing an accident
  • Save time and money by not needing to run diagnostics in the shop

Right-size your fleet and increase asset utilization

Transportation is a capital intensive business, partially because of the high cost of purchasing, insuring, and maintaining vehicles and assets. Often, the amount and types of equipment required changes throughout the year due to seasonal demands.

This leads to quite a business-planning dilemma for many. Purchase too much equipment, and costs unnecessarily increase. Purchase too little equipment, and get stuck paying sky-high, last-minute rental fees or worse, not be able to fulfill customer or business needs.

Some ELDs can provide data on the utilization rates for vehicles, trailers, and other high-value assets.

This utilization of data can be filtered by a specific vehicle or group. Groups are especially powerful as they allow you to view utilization data across many key characteristics, such as:

  • Terminal
  • Vehicle type, such as engine size
  • Trailer type, such as reefers

And so much more. With this data, you can understand which assets are often being underutilized and either put them to work generating more revenue or sell them and lease/rent during peak seasons.

Avoid detention time

Detention time has long been one of the industry’s biggest frustrations and challenges. And, for good reason:

Unpredictability has made detention time an elusive challenge to solve. But, with ELD data, carriers can finally do something about it.

When detention time does occur, Motive provides a simple report that shows exactly how much time your driver spent waiting at a facility. This allows you to collect detention pay with accuracy and proof.

Choosing the right solution for your business

ELDs are much more than compliance devices and provide a wealth of operational data that can help carriers operate more profitably. But, only if you choose the right solution. This article on finding a fleet management solution can help you make the right choice for your business.