Federal ELD Mandate Brings Challenges & Benefits for C-store Industry
The world of trucking is going through a transformation from the old to the new. More trucks are shifting (pun intended) to automatic transmissions vs. manual. Autonomous trucks are on the horizon, and electronic logging devices (ELDs) are here.
On-board computer technology is not new to the industry, however the federal ELD mandate is new for many, and enforcement has begun. Let’s explore the regulation details, and the challenges and benefits the convenience store industry will face with ELDs going forward.
What Is an ELD & Why Do We Need Them?
In its simplest form, an ELD is a device that electronically logs the hours of service a driver operates a truck. Historically, this has been executed by a driver logging his or her hours on paper. This method has provided the drivers with an opportunity to document service hours, which included errors.
ELDs can be integrated into onboard computers (OBCs). OBCs are a valuable tool as they provide features such as automated pick-up and delivery instructions and route guidance. Additionally, these systems provide safety-related information on the operation of the vehicle itself.
What Will It Cost per Truck to Implement an ELD?
It depends on the features you want, how you plan to retrieve the data, analytics, etc. You also have to plan for ongoing expenses, such as software and equipment updates.
Cost Aside, All I Have to Do is Install the ELD & I'm Good to Go?
It’s not that simple. Drivers and back-office support need to be trained on the operation of the device. You need to have policies and procedures in place for drivers and for your back-office support should the device not function properly.
When Will This Enforcement Begin?
The federal mandate went into effect Dec. 18, 2017. "Soft" enforcement was in place until April 1, 2018, during which time local enforcement could choose to write warning citations or levy full enforcement at their discretion. Once official enforcement of the mandate began April 1, enforcement personnel may choose to cite the company, the driver or both.
In addition, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) recently announced that a vehicle operating without the required ELD will be shut down by placing the driver out of service for a minimum of 10 hours. The driver may then be released to deliver the load, but cannot be dispatched again until compliant with the requirements.
Do Small Fleets Have to Implement ELDs?
There are some exemptions, but most private and for-hire fleets must implement an ELD solution. You should not assume that if you have a small fleet, you are exempt. Enforcement has begun and you want to ensure you are compliant. You can learn more about the mandate and exemption criteria by going to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website or ELDfacts.com.
How Is This Regulation Change Going to Impact the Convenience Store Industry?
From a safety perspective, this is a win for the public and the c-store industry. We need to operate on the roads as safely as possible as we deliver products to c-stores, bulk plants and a variety of other locations.
On the other hand, non-compliance will shut down carriers, thereby reducing capacity in the market. As a c-store operator or fuel distributor, you want to ensure your carrier is compliant with the mandate — if not, deliveries to your sites could be negatively impacted.
The mandate does burden the industry with additional costs, processes and training for drivers. We will likely continue to see more regulations and more technology integration in the industry, putting additional stress on the drivers to learn the proper use of these new technologies. If drivers chose to leave the industry instead, this will reduce trucking capacity and drive higher costs for c-stores and fuel distributors.
Kenan Advantage Group Inc. (www.thekag.com) operates through its five groups consisting of Fuels Delivery, Specialty Products (chemicals and liquid food), Merchant Gas, KAG Canada and Logistics. The company has terminal and satellite locations in 40 states and five Canadian provinces and territories, with the ability to deliver within all 48 contiguous states, Canada and Mexico. KAG also provides specialized supply chain logistics services through KAG Logistics (www.kaglogistics.com).
Editor's note: The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News.