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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Capacity, Drivers Shortage and the ELD


What if the villain of the ELD Mandate story turned out to be a hero?

ELDs may be demonized unfairly. The enforcement of drivers’ Hours of Service limitations is widely recognized as removing truck capacity from the market and installing ELDs takes money.

But ELDs could actually turn out to be a surprising force for good. The trick for turning bad to good in this story is to mine the rich data from ELDs and use that power to create unprecedented levels of efficiencies in truck operations.

Full enforcement of the ELD mandate has brought some unwelcome surprises. Among these are reports of transit times increasing, as truckers over-estimate the hours needed to complete a run in order to avoid Hours of Service violations. Things such as these are driving greater inefficiencies into freight operations.

Freight delivery by truck can be a notoriously inefficient business. According to the National Private Truck Council, more than a quarter of US trucks are driving around empty. Even when they’re not empty, truck trailers are 36% under-utilized, according to Department of Transport statistics quoted by Homayoun Taherian of Cnergistics.

With the capacity crunch and driver shortage already hitting hard, the industry can’t afford to let the villain of inefficiency take even greater hold.

The good news is that what may seem to be a force of evil can actually turn out to be a hero. ELDs, by their nature, provide reliably accurate data on truck-driving activities — including hours driven, idling time and slow traffic. When that data is put to good use, it not only prevents these new inefficiencies creeping in; it reduces other, existing, inefficiencies in the system.

More quality data is good, but you need help to extract value from it. Routing and scheduling software is hungry for real-life data about road conditions, habitual delays at customer sites and other issues that tend to cast a bad spell on any route plan, and ELDs have plenty of data for the taking. In fact, implementing advance routing and scheduling software that can make the most of this new flood of ELD data can introduce across-the-board savings of 10-30 percent into your freight operations.

Feeding ELD data into routing and scheduling automation software means you can create transport plans that are based on true availability for all of your drivers. This removes the need to manually manipulate the data to ensure HoS restrictions are adhered to.

The drivers’ data entry is fully automated, saving time and eliminating data entry errors while still protecting his or her privacy. Because the software crunches that information to make the most of it, you end up with increasingly accurate estimates of how long a drop will actually take.

For example, you might have planned for a 20-minute stop at a delivery location, but your driver’s ELD tells you the stop is consistently taking 90 minutes. Feeding that data back into future plans improves the routing, plain and simple. The same goes for identifying patterns in idling time, slow traffic and delays. Or, where a driver might typically be using less than the maximum HoS on a particular route, the routing plan will automatically add a delivery leg, or move the driver to another route that maximizes use of the allowance. This is a powerful way to utilize all of your assets to the full. Driver hours are limited; trucks can operate 24 hours a day.

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