Prepare for ELD mandate now, suppliers say

Canada’s ELD mandate won’t be fully enforced until June 2022, but some of the country’s largest ELD suppliers are stressing that it’s already time to begin preparing for the change. The central message emerged on Thursday during an online “town hall” presentation hosted by the Canadian Trucking Alliance.

(Photo: istock)

“The sooner you act and get involved in the process and start installing technology, the smoother the transition will be,” said Geoff Wood, CTA’s senior vice-president – policy. The mandate, which so far is limited to federally regulated carriers, requires ELDs that are certified by a recognized third party.

FPInnovations, the only body cleared to ensure the devices meet underlying technical standards, has yet to certify a device.

Lessons to learn

But suppliers participating in the webinar stressed the value of introducing ELDs as early as possible, to answer any questions before the regulations are fully enforced. There are some exemptions, said Isaac Instruments compliance and safety specialist Melanie Simard, referring to carriers running within 160 km of a home base, short-term equipment rentals lasting no longer than 30 days, and equipment manufactured before Model Year 2000. But Marc Moncion, Fleet Complete’s vice-president – safety, compliance and regulatory affairs, stressed that many of the Canadian exemptions differ from those that currently apply in the U.S.

Personal use in Canada, for example, will only apply to trips up to 75 km, and be limited to bobtailing vehicles or straight trucks without goods. Drivers in these cases will need to enter their starting and ending odometer readings as well. It’s just one of the lessons that can be learned once ELDs are being actively used.

Learning from the past

“We’re able to see what happened in the past and see what happened with the U.S. mandate and learn from that experience,” said Anthony Mainville of Attrix, referring to the flood of fleets that waited until the last minute.

He asked fleets to imagine how nervous drivers will be when facing their first roadside inspection with an ELD. Some early experience will help ease such fears. Suppliers also stressed that equipment can be updated after it’s on the road, once certification is secured.

“Those updates will be done over the air,” said Fred Fakkema, vice-president – safety and compliance with Zonar. “It doesn’t really impact your operation.”

Changing operations

But ELDs will affect operations in other ways, adding to the value that comes with early experience. “Every vehicle movement counts when you get in the ELD world,” noted Mike Ahart, vice-president -regulatory affairs at Omnitracs. “As soon as the vehicle reaches 8 km/h it is going to put that driver – whoever it is – into a drive segment.” Such moves include mechanics who are shuttling vehicles, or a driver in a sleeper who is asked to move to a safer location.

If the driver isn’t logged into the ELD, it’s going to be an unidentified driving segment that will later have to be adjudicated. Only errors made by team drivers can be corrected by assigning the time to someone else. “People in the organization are going to have to be trained,” Ahart says. “Every hour is accounted for now.”

The training time will also help people familiarize themselves with malfunction indicators and diagnostic processes, said Frank Stowers, senior product manager at Trimble Transportation.

Configuring ELDs

New drivers also need to be properly configured with the ELD, Mainville said, noting that details like licence numbers or vehicle information are often missing when fleets familiarize themselves with the equipment. “Most vendors will even have the capacity to do simulations to make sure that all the information is properly entered.” “It’s not only training for the drivers, but it’s also training for the support staff that are working with the drivers,” Fakkema said. Wood listed several questions to ask vendors when shopping for an ELD: How long have you been an ELD vendor?

Where are you in the third-party certification process? What training resources are available? Simard recommended asking pointed questions about the certification process, to see whether a company has filed applications for certification, and where they are in terms of the 450-plus test cases that have to be passed.

Finding a fit

It’s about finding a fit for an operation, Mainville said, referring to those who might want to opt for an iOS-based system to support iPads.

In contrast, other fleets may prefer dedicated terminals that work on an Andoid platform that won’t share data through a Google Play service in the background.

Anyone who tries to reach a U.S. vendor that doesn’t even answer the phone should question whether the supplier is going to invest around £50,000 to certify a device, Ahart added.

“The vendor has to have enough business in Canada to even justify that amount of money.”