Effective December 2017, all fleets and drivers were required to use mobile technology meeting the 395.15 standard (the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate) from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
But complying with the ELD mandate isn’t the only consideration for mobile technology – especially if you haul temperature-sensitive freight. One rule specifically, the Small Entity Compliance Guide: Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food rule, places the burden of proof on shippers to ensure appropriate temperature controls are maintained during the transportation of food-grade products. Shippers typically pass much of this responsibility on to carriers.
Shippers and carriers must comply with this rule to protect themselves from the risk of cargo claims and increased monitoring by federal and state authorities. Having real-time, accurate information about the condition of loads and equipment during all stages of transit (including trailer pre-cool verification), is a necessity. If you use a mobile telematics and fleet management system to run electronic logs or monitor and record trailer temperatures, it’s pretty simple to comply with the rules and the associated data-retention requirements.
More than managing hours of service (HOS) data or checking on the location and status of loads, what do you need?
How you use information and integrate workflows determines if you’re operating efficiently and improving things like customer service, safety, and fuel efficiency which can all lead to a competitive advantage. This is an example of compliance leveling the playing field.
Third-party devices and applications can actually help create additional value. For example, a driver’s productivity extends outside of the cab with the us of built-in compatibility and connectivity of in-cab platforms like Apple® and Android™ smartphones.
To make your mobile telematics and fleet management system work harder and go beyond compliance, consider these strategies:
- Optimize load planning. With visibility to HOS data, load planners don’t have to wait, search for, or estimate driver availability to match drivers to loads. The load planning process is more efficient and accurate, and dispatchers are able to manage more drivers which reduces overhead costs.
- Streamline safety. By the same token, safety managers don’t have to spend time processing driver logbooks and can focus their attention on more impactful activities like driver training and coaching.
- Reduce breakdowns. By providing advance fault code information to maintenance managers, trucks and refrigeration units can be pulled into the shop on a scheduled basis for repairs. Costs go down and revenues go up by preventing non-routine maintenance and breakdowns, not to mention it keeps trucks moving. Vehicle owners can initiate the reprogramming and calibration of truck engines when they have the latest updates from manufacturers.
- Taking care of defects. Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIRs) are required by law, but the reality is that reporting equipment defects on paper is a slow and ineffective process. Electronic DVIRs create a repair process that automatically passes information on to maintenance. This direct communication line helps ensure that trucks are safe and ready before they hit the road. eDVIRs are easily handled by the driver and give them additional confidence in the vehicle they’re driving.
- Effortlessly provide documentation. Being able to quickly provide the data needed to satisfy federal documentation requirements not only prevents cargo claims, it lowers the cost of compliance. When data is stored in the cloud, drivers and office personnel can easily access documentation when it’s needed. This makes it possible to effortlessly satisfy the documentation needs of the FDA, the shipper, and the receiver without having to retrieve paper documents that might be stored off-site.
- Effectively manage trailers. Besides having a detailed, accurate, and on-demand record of load conditions, a telematics system can be used to manage trailer pools. Fleets can monitor the use of trailers and reallocate assets as needed to ensure the optimum number of trailers at each location. Dispatchers can also provide drivers the exact location of a trailer in a yard to save on-duty time that otherwise would be lost on unproductive activities.