Smartphones, tablets being utilized for low-cost compliance with ELD mandate

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Updated Dec 9, 2014

The final rule mandating the use of electronic logging devices by drivers and fleets is scheduled to be published Sept. 30, 2015, and enforcement to begin Sept. 30, 2017. For fleets that already have onboard communications systems, the cost to implement an ELD solution for paperless driver logs is incremental, perhaps only $5 to $10 per truck.

For fleets that lack a mobile computing platform now, or are considering replacement options before the ELD mandate arrives, the market is filling up with low-cost compliance options that utilize smartphone and tablet devices with plenty of room to add more applications in the future, as needed.

CLICK here to view a photo gallery summary of low-cost ELD applications.

Factory-fit ELDs

Click on the image to view a photo gallery that summarizes the low-cost options for ELD compliance.Click on the image to view a photo gallery that summarizes the low-cost options for ELD compliance.

One trend that is taking shape now among truck manufacturers is to offer a telematics platform in the vehicle directly from the factory. A built-in telematics system can be paired with a mobile device of a fleet’s own choosing to run ELDs and other fleet management applications.

Volvo and Mack trucks, for example, now come equipped with a telematics system from Telogis. Using this base Telogis Fleet platform, fleets can add the Telogis Compliance suite for electronic logs, driver vehicle inspection reports (DVIRs) and IFTA fuel tax reporting for a combined monthly subscription of between $30 and $50 a month, says Kelly Frey, vice president of product marketing for Telogis.

It’s not just fleets with heavy-duty trucks that need to comply with ELD regulations. Any commercial driver of a vehicle combination weighing over 10,000 pounds could be required by law enforcement to produce electronic logs. Telogis also has partnerships with the major manufacturers of light and medium-duty trucks to offer its telematics platform straight from the factory.

Daimler Trucks North America has the Detroit Connect telematics system. Developed in conjunction with Zonar, the system uses an Android-powered on-board tablet that comes pre-loaded with four trucking-specific apps, including ones for navigation, hours of service, a pre- and post-trip inspection and a two-way messaging.

Aftermarket subscriptions

A number of ELD compliance applications can be purchased from suppliers using a subscription model that includes the hardware.

BigRoad recently announced a CFR 395.15-compliant Automatic On-Board Recording Device option to its paperless driver logging app. Drivers and fleets that already use the app can plug a link into the truck’s data portal that communicates via Bluetooth to the BigRoad app installed on Android- or iOS-powered smartphones or tablets.

The entire package is currently operating under a rental model of $10 a month for the plugin hardware and $15 for the software.

Click on the image to view a photo gallery that summarizes the low-cost options for ELD compliance.Click on the image to view a photo gallery that summarizes the low-cost options for ELD compliance.

In October, Omnitracs finalized the purchase of XRS to deepen its reach into small-, mid-sized and private fleets seeking smart device-based applications. The core technology of XRS is a small, in-cab Relay device that communicates via Bluetooth with a wide range of compatible devices, including the driver’s existing smartphone or tablet.

XRS has been offering the Relay device to fleets for no up-front cost with a subscription to its software-as-a-service platform that includes electronic logs, integrated messaging, vehicle and driver performance data, and all other features traditionally associated with onboard computers.

uDrove offers an electronic logging application that works on iOS and Android platforms called uDrove Prime. One advantage of this approach, the company has discovered, is that the improved user experience of consumer platforms can help to overcome resistance that drivers may have with using electronic logs.

The logging app synchronizes with the vehicle through uDrove Pro, a “plug and play” device that plugs into the truck’s diagnostic port and gathers roughly 180 points of data. The device has its own cellular modem so as not to require a separate smartphone or tablet with a wireless plan to transmit data. There are no up-front costs for the hardware and monthly subscriptions start at $15.

In May 2014, J.J. Keller and Associates and Verizon announced a partnership to develop an integrated fleet compliance and telematics system for all vehicle classes. The system uses the Verizon Networkfleet telematics platform to communicate data to the J.J. Keller Mobile app for smart devices and tablets and to the J.J. Keller Encompass compliance management portal.

J.J. Keller is “not in the business of selling technology,” says Rustin Keller, executive vice president and COO. “We leave that to our partner. We are in the business of compliance solutions.” To that end, the company is “focusing our energy on the best driver experience on the mobile app and breadth of compliance in the back office,” he added.

Rand McNally offers an ELD compliance system that includes navigation and fleet management applications. Its navigation device, the IntelliRoute TND 730, can be paired via Bluetooth to its HD 100 device that connects to the vehicle’s data port for a fully compliant ELD. The TND 730/HD 100 combo retails at a price point below $600 with a modest monthly service fee, the company says. The HD 100, which retails for $299, can also be paired with smartphones and tablets.

Click on the image to view a photo gallery that summarizes the options for low-cost ELD compliance.Click on the image to view a photo gallery that summarizes the options for low-cost ELD compliance.

Starting next year, Navman Wireless will leverage Apple and Android devices for the driver display portion of its telematics platform. It currently offers an ELD application for a monthly subscription that includes the hardwired telematics device for between $60 and $80 per month, says Steve Blackburn, vice president.

AT&T has an exclusive relationship with WebTech Wireless to sell its ELD, DVIR and IFTA compliance software as AT&T Fleet Driver Center. The product has the option of using tablets and handsets as the driver interface, delivered with no upfront costs on a monthly subscription, which includes fleet tracking and other telematics functions.

Some ELD offerings are unique in the fact they do not have a monthly subscription. The VDO RoadLog, for instance, is specifically designed to meet the needs of small fleets and owner operators. The device combines GPS data with data from the vehicle to create a complete digital log with a built-in thermal printer. Drivers log in to the RoadLog ELD with a proprietary USB drive. Data can be transferred to the back office by a USB drive or an optional cellular connection.