Trucking companies that don’t have ELDs yet are being urged by their customers to speed up technology deployment efforts for keeping current freight business as well as earning more in the near future.
Many shippers are deciding it’s too risky to wait until the December 2017 compliance deadline in the U.S. to see if core carriers have sufficiently progressed in installing and utilizing ELDs.
Mercer Transportation directed all of its 2,500 owner-operators to install ELDs by July of this year as well as download the carrier’s smart phone mobile app in order to provide critical shipment transit data to customers.
Not only would the expedited time frame provide a bigger learning curve for the technology, but Mercer also believes it will give the carrier a competitive advantage.
“What is important for us is to get more freight,” explained Dale Corum, Mercer’s operations manager during the carrier’s annual drivers meeting ahead of the 2016 Mid America Trucking Show last week.
“We’re in the digital age now … Our customers tell us we have very few problems and very few claims, so we’d be getting more business if our reporting was better.”
He said that Mercer drivers who don’t install ELDs won’t be matched with lucrative freight. “We don’t want them knocked out of that opportunity,” Corum said.
John Larkin, managing director and head of transportation capital markets research at Stifel Financial Corp. said there’s evidence many carriers want to ensure their carriers are comfortable with ELDs well ahead of the mandate.
“Most shippers have little interest in using non-compliant carriers,” he noted in a presentation at the 2016 Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) annual meeting in March. “We mention this fairly widespread trend to suggest that the impact associated with ELD implementation may be felt a little earlier than some had projected.”
Joel Franklin, Mercer’s general manager of sales, told Fleet Owner that having better information from ELDs is driving the business. “A lot of our biggest customers are telling us that if we want to keep their business, as well as get more of it, we’ve got to give them more data.”
“Three years ago, they were telling us they’d like to know where their loads were in transit. Then two years ago they said they really needed to know,” he added. “Last year, that turned into a demand to know.”