JOC: Potential Capacity Squeeze Ahead of Last ELD Deadline

U.S. Shippers using carriers who are still not prepared for the Dec. 16 deadline to switch from automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) to federally mandated electronic logging devices (ELDs) could be hitting a roadblock, reports the Journal of Commerce.

From the JOC:

“On a macro level, no one knows how many carriers using the older AOBRDs — which were grandfathered for two years when the ELD mandate took effect in December 2017 — are still in the midst of the transition, let alone how many haven’t even begun to make the switch. Even with an abundant supply of trucks, shippers that haven’t planned ahead could come up short.

Shippers may also feel more supply-and-demand tension simply because more fleets have made the leap from AOBRDs to ELDs and are tightening their control over truck driver working hours as a result. “With AOBRDs it was easier to find logging loopholes in how you move a truck,” said Jeremy Stickling, chief administrative officer of truckload carrier Nussbaum Transportation.

For months, truck telematics and ELD vendors have been warning that a delay in replacing AOBRDs could at least crimp truck capacity just before the holidays, affecting last-minute deliveries. “What I’m seeing is that carriers are still waiting to flip that switch between AOBRD and ELD, which is scary,” said Andy Oleson, solutions engineer at Platform Science.

“If they flip that switch and their supplier is not up to speed, they’re on the hook,” Oleson told JOC.com. “It works against the carrier if they wait until the 11th hour to make the switch. There’s such a benefit for those early adopters.” Early adopters have already built training programs for drivers as well as staff, developed new policies, and adapted operations to new ELD software.

Carriers that have made the switch find the ELD transition leads to a vast increase in the amount of data they receive, compared with what they used to get from the AOBRD. “You have a lot more status changes, a more granular view of what’s going on in the trucker’s day,” said Stickling. “There’s a lot more for the safety department to monitor.”

Converting from AOBRDs to ELDs is a different challenge than going from paper logs to electronic logging. One of the main issues is the presence of some level of legacy driver management applications. But drivers at AOBRD fleets are already familiar with electronic logs. “We judged the success of the transition by how much of a non-event it was,” Stickling said.

Various trucking industry executives, including Werner Enterprises CEO Derek Leathers, have predicted a 1 to 3 percent decline in productivity for those companies in transition. Werner Enterprises pioneered the use of electronic logs in the 1990s and won a formal exemption from the use of paper logs from the FMCSA in 2004.

That productivity loss translates to about 4 to 12 miles per day, per truck, according to Werner. “We think five miles per day is best-case, and that’s only after tremendous amounts of training and a commitment to being 100 percent legal at all times,” Leathers told The Journal of Commerce. “I think it’ll end up averaging around 15 miles per day.”

Full JOC story here.

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