ELD compliance: How and why it can pump up your profits

Ways trucking fleets and owner-operators can leverage the Internet of Things for gain.

Today’s transportation industry faces increasingly stringent regulatory standards. The highest-profile example is the looming electronic logging device (ELD) deadline; by December 16, 2019, all carriers subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s ELD mandate must be equipped with self-certified devices registered with the FMCSA. In addition to the sweeping ELD mandate, many fleets are or soon will be subject to a wide range of more specific regulations.

In this environment, one option is to focus on technology solutions that address the bare minimum needed to check off a particular set of regulatory boxes. While perhaps cost-efficient in the short term, this approach is limited to a tactical fix. The second option, meanwhile, is to look at the bigger picture and leverage emerging Internet of Things (IoT) technology to enhance business operations and gain a competitive edge.

A basic ELD solution deploys data-collecting smart sensors to track a vehicle’s location and movement. This addresses the ELD mandate to monitor and document how far a vehicle travels, and how long a driver sits behind the wheel, over a given time period. Beyond that, smart sensors can provide a foundation for gathering, analyzing and acting on a wide range of data. Fleet managers can apply this IoT-enabled foundation to drive significant improvements in a number of functions, including asset tracking.

The low cost of sensors makes tracking temperatures within individual palettes viable. With this level of insight, operators can better ensure food quality and safety, as well as provide individual customers with detailed documentation on the provenance of food product shipments from initial pick-up to final delivery. This can be critical to, for example, an operator transporting fresh fish from a supplier who pledges their product is “never frozen.”

Geo-fencing and location tracking applications can also significantly enhance asset control efficiency and mitigate risk. At a macro level, a geo-fencing solution can track a vehicle’s progress on a prescribed route from, say, Cleveland to Seattle, and send alerts if the vehicle deviates from the route’s defined parameters. By tagging individual assets, operators can monitor the location of goods throughout a journey, as well as track them if stolen. If the truck is carrying expensive electronics equipment or machine parts, such visibility can be critical. In addition to enhancing security, this eagle-eye perspective enhances production planning, streamlines shipment delivery and improves scheduling accuracy.

Getting there. To achieve broader strategic functionality from an ELD solution, one key is to start small and grow. Operators should avoid significant upfront investments, but not at the cost of limiting future possibilities. Interoperability between the sensors deployed on fleets and back-end analytical platforms is also critical. Many platforms require significant levels of customization to accommodate different standards. In this case, simplicity is a virtue.

Finally, the ability to monitor data analytics and take appropriate action is critical. While a smart sensor solution largely automates the data collection and analytics process, the triggers issued by the solution often require human intervention to investigate and resolve. For example, let’s say the truck traveling from Cleveland to Seattle has strayed outside its defined parameters. The sensor sends an alert to the operator, who then needs to determine if the departure from the route is innocuous or indicative of a problem. “Analytics-as-a-service” offerings that apply clearly defined rules and processes to evaluate alerts can address this challenge.

Smart sensor technology offers significant opportunities for fleets of all types and sizes to improve their operations. From large fleets looking to optimize their response to regulatory mandates, to small operations seeking to boost their competitive positioning, IoT-enabled smart sensors can make a significant contribution to the bottom line.

Patrick Verdugo is Manager of Internet of Things and Business Innovation Offerings at Claro Enterprise Solutions, a global IT services provider.

This article was originally posted by American Trucker.

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Operational Cost of Trucking Up 7.7%, ATRI Report Says

The costs associated with trucking have increased, according to the American Transportation Research Institute.

Its report, “An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking,” shows fuel and driver compensation accounted for carriers’ biggest expenses while permits and licenses accounted for the smallest.

The report was published Nov. 4 and is based on data from 2018.

The average marginal cost per mile incurred by motor carriers rose to $1.82, a 7.7% increase from 2017’s cost of $1.69.

By costs per hour, carriers expenses were $71.78, up from $66.65 in 2017.

ATRI divided marginal costs into two categories: vehicle- and driver-based. Vehicle-based costs include fuel, truck lease or purchase payments, repair and maintenance, insurance premiums, licenses, and tolls. Driver-based costs include wages and benefits.

The report shows 2018 costs are the highest since the organization’s data collection began in 2008.

It highlights the strong economic environment that benefited trucking in 2018. However, these economic conditions also put pressure on nearly every cost for carriers.

Only tires showed no increase, likely due to a large U.S. surplus of styrene butadiene rubber, a synthetic rubber used to replace natural rubber in tires, according to ATRI.

Avery Vise, vice president of trucking research at transportation intelligence firm FTR


Fuel costs experienced the highest year-over-year growth, reaching 43 cents per mile, a jump of 17.7% from 36 cents in 2017. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the price of ultra-low sulfur diesel was $3.17 per gallon in 2018 compared with $2.65 per gallon in 2017. And as of this October, the price was $3.05 per gallon.

Avery Vise, vice president of trucking research at transportation intelligence firm FTR, said fluctuations in diesel costs don’t depend on trucking alone. He added the U.S. petroleum supply has been good, contributing to lower costs.

EIA said the U.S. produced 10.99 million barrels of crude per day in 2018. So far this year the average is 12.26 million bpd.

Fuel costs made up 24% of carriers’ total average costs in 2018.

The 43% share for costs per mile for driver wages and benefits (33% and 10%, respectively) is attributed to the driver shortage — the No. 1 trucking concern based on ATRI’s list of industry issues released Oct. 6. American Trucking Associations projects the industry was short 60,000 drivers.

ATRI Senior Vice President Dan Murray told Transport Topics he’s uncertain whether increases in bonuses and wages put a dent in the driver shortage. “It’s a good thing that wages go up because most research and anecdotal information says a satisfied driver stays put and is considerably safer than a dissatisfied driver.”

Repair and maintenance costs rose to 17.1 cents per mile from 16.7 cents, which ATRI characterized as a counterintuitive increase because of the record sales of new trucks and trailers. Class 8 tractor sales boomed in 2018, seeing a 32.1% increase year-over-year.

ATRI Senior Vice President Dan Murray


The report shows, on average, seven years lapse until a truck tractor is replaced.

James Griffin, chief operating officer and chief technology officer at Fleet Advantage, said trucks become exponentially more costly to maintain as they age because they experience more breakdowns and component failures. Fleet Advantage uses data analytics to offer leasing and truck life cycle management solutions.

Newer trucks generally require more basic tasks such as oil changes and tire checks.

“As your fleet gets older, it takes more skills and more time and more expensive parts,” Griffin said. “It’s kind of a triple whammy.”

Industry sectors experience repair and maintenance costs differently, the ATRI report said, stressing that specialized carriers consistently pay more per mile (23 cents in 2018, up 1 cent from 2017). Less-than-truckload paid 18 cents, down a penny from 2017, and truckload paid 15 cents, up 2 cents from 2017.

James Griffin, chief operating officer and chief technology officer at Fleet Advantage


Griffin said safety technology in trucks can help costs decrease. For example, he said a large company recently adopted collision avoidance systems fleetwide and reduced its rear-end collisions by 80%. He said those collisions are among the most costly.

According to ATRI’s report, operations in the Northeast were the costliest in 2018, at $1.96 per mile. The region presents heavy population concentrations and numerous tolls.

The West was not far behind, reflecting an average cost per mile of $1.81. It is characterized by longer trips and traffic congestion in coastal areas.

Carriers that do business in the Southwest and Southeast reported the lowest operating costs per mile in 2018 — $1.58 and $1.68, respectively. The cost in the Midwest was $1.73.

As for how 2019 is developing, Murray said a softening economy could present challenges to fleets because costs are going to remain stable. For example, a new truck won’t get cheaper even if the economy slows.

“If the economy doesn’t sort of strengthen, we could see a pretty considerable increase in either bankruptcies or consolidations,” Murray said. “It is going to put a lot of pressure on the industry to basically hang in there as long as we can until the economy turns.”

This article was originally posted by Transport Topics.

FMCSA offers help for young military drivers to find jobs

The pilot program will allow a limited number of individuals between the ages of 18 and 20 to operate large trucks in interstate commerce.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has published a new job opportunities website to help 18-20-year-olds who possess the U.S. military equivalent of a commercial driver’s license (CDL)
find and apply for jobs with interstate trucking companies.   

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Trucker Deaths Continue to Rise

Trucker deaths continue to rise and are at their highest level in more than 30 years, according to data released Tuesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The federal agency said 885 large truck occupants died in 2018. That’s an increase of almost 1 percent compared to the prior year. It is the highest since 1988 when 911 occupants of large trucks died.

Looking beyond truckers, overall deaths involving crashes with large trucks also continue to rise. The agency said 4,678 people died in collisions with large trucks last year. That’s up by almost 1 percent from the 4,369 that died in 2017.

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Trucking wants to take marijuana head-on

More Americans have access to legal weed than ever before. ATA wants to stress highway safety and the need for a federal policy on this emerging issue.

SAN DIEGO — More than a quarter of Americans live in a jurisdiction that allows legal marijuana. Weed’s growing popularity in the U.S. is an increasing and complicated concern for the trucking industry.

American Trucking Associations is looking to take the lead in how U.S. businesses adapt to legal weed, noting that there is more to learn about its effects. The ATA Board of Directors created new policies this week that calls for a common-sense approach to liberalizing marijuana laws — in the name of safety. And since every state has different cannabis laws, ATA wants the federal government to change its approach.

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Trucking Industry Has Become a Top Target of Ransomware Attacks

SAN DIEGO — Transportation is now one of the most cyberattacked industries in the United States, which puts trucking in the crosshairs of hackers, a panel of cybersecurity experts said here during American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference & Exhibition on Oct. 6.

“This is why we’re doing a session on cybersecurity,” said Ken Craig, vice president of special projects at McLeod Software, citing data from Forbes that said transportation ranks No. 5 on the list of industries with the most cyberattacks.

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California Mandates Smog Checks for Heavy-Duty Trucks

Truckers will have to have their rigs smog-checked and certified in order to operate legally in California under a bill signed into law by the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom.

The measure, Senate Bill 210, makes California the first state with a smog-check program for medium- and heavy-duty trucks. It provides the industry a few years of relief before the smog checks begin, though. The estimated startup date for an operational program is 2023.

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Boost Driver Safety and Your Bottom Line

Focus on safety and risk management to control rising insurance costs

Keep Your Drivers Safe on the Road

Many commercial fleets are seeing premium increases for the second or third year in a row, and some have even seen rates double – the direct result of increasingly high legal settlements and skyrocketing auto repairs.1 Fearing loss of profits (or no profit at all), insurance companies are being very selective when it comes to renewals and new quotes.  It’s important to work with an insurance broker who understands the market and can advocate on your behalf.

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Detention time continues to be a drag on drivers

Detention frequency and length have increased over the past four years, with negative impacts on driver productivity, regulatory compliance and compensation, according to new ATRI study.

Most drivers have run out of available hours-of-service (HOS) at a customer’s facility due to detention. And that detention, according to a new analysis by the
American Transportation Research Institute, had a significant impact on their ability to comply with HOS rules.

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