Finding the right ELD device compliance solution for you and your business can be tricky. The range of model types, prices, subscription packages and installation requirements can make the choice overwhelming for a carrier. But keep in mind, ELD devices should be purchased as soon as possible to prepare for the December 18th compliance date. While price may be top of mind, and finding a compliance solution that fits your budget is important, keep in mind that some of the cheaper solutions on the market might not have the right features to suit your needs.

Here are our top tips to help you select the best ELD for your business:

1) Ensure it is a Registered ELD Device

How can this help you bottom line? By going with a device that has been self-certified by the manufacturer and listed on the FMCSA website, you are working with a company that has ensured they meet the ELD technical specifications that are set out by the FMCSA. If you chose one that was not on the list, you could potentially have a device that is not up to standards, which may mean the need to purchase yet another device in the future.

Many ELD providers are taking a proactive approach by getting a third party to certify their devices. However, you won’t know this by looking at the FMCSA list, so remember to ask if they have been third-party certified when you are speaking to them.

If there is a dispute between a carrier company and a device, that is when the FMCSA will step in and examine the devices. In these cases, if the ELD provider is proved to not meet the ELD technical specifications, they will be added to the list of Revoked ELDS.

2) Research the Provider

Check out online reviews and other important company information. Well established companies often have better long-term reputations than start-ups who might just be trying to cash in during a critical time for the industry. The National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) has advised motor carriers to show preference to ELD solutions from major providers that are using existing secure platforms.

3) Consider Installation and Operation

The last thing you want is to experience unexpected costs related to installation. To start off, you need to figure out what type of ELD will work for your business. There are two basic types:

  1. Telematics – these are hardwired and installed behind the dashboard. The benefit of this type is seen for carrier companies who change drivers, as the device is tied to the truck and a driver must log in with their credentials. You can also have multiple drivers logged in to the same device (for team loads).
  2. Plug and Play – these use a 9-pin connector that is attached to the engine. They transmit data from the device by Bluetooth to the ELD providers network in the cloud and to the driver’s cell phone or tablet.  The driver must log in on their device (cell phone or tablet); if the driver is in a no cell service area, the device still collects data and the drivers phone will be updated once it is back in service.

Most importantly, if you decide that a telematics device best suits your business, be sure to ask how long the installation will take, approved centers for installation, and what costs are involved. The many plug-and-play ELD solutions on the market have simpler installation requirements.

4) Compare Pricing

You will need to consider four costs:

  1. Equipment – most companies are offering outright purchase of telematic devices, which can range from $500-900 per device, or lease options, at about $20 per month. For Plug and Play devices, you will need to purchase a mount for the 9-pin connector, which costs anywhere from $20-35.
  2. Sign-up/Activation fees – these range from $25 per truck, and from $150 per account for fleets with more than 5 trucks.
  3. Installation fees:
    • Telematics – you must take the device and your truck to an authorized service center, to ensure that the installation meets specifications. Installations cost about $150, although many service centers are offering discounts on installations for fleets. Installation of these devices can take a few hours, and an appointment needs to be booked.
    • Plug and Play – these are self-installed therefore, there is no fee associated. Installations take approximately 10 minutes.
  4. Monthly service fees – the monthly service fee usually includes ELog monitoring, IFTA reporting, Geo Positioning, DVIR reporting, and data allowances.

ELD Device General Warnings

  1. Guarantees – most telematic devices have a lifetime guarantee. However, many companies are offering a promo tablet with purchase, and the guarantee will often be different for that. Make sure you are aware of what the guarantee covers and for the time it covers things for before you make a purchase.
  2. Malfunctions – if your device does stop working for whatever reason, you need to be able to get help right away. For this reason, many carrier companies and owner-operators are opting for local providers from their home base, or at the very least North American providers. The price may be higher for these providers, but the peace of mind they offer with regards to dealing with malfunctions is worth the extra cost.
  3. Data – many plans are including data in their base monthly fees. If your plan does not include data, keep this in mind because the ELD will eat up a lot of your monthly cell phone data charges, and can lead to an unexpected cell phone bill shock.
  4. Security – watch out for biased reporting that may try to sway you to purchase one device or another citing security concerns. The only parties who have access to the Elog information on an ELD are the carrier company and the driver. If a driver is pulled over by the DOT, and the information is requested, they will have to crate a report based on the time frame that is requested. This report can be provided to the DOT via USB (for Plug and Play devices) or via email for telematics devices.  If you have any other security concerns, check with the provider for their security measures across the board, from manufacturing, to hardware and software, data transfer, and data storage.
  5. Timing – ordering and receiving equipment, booking appointments for installation. Industry experts are currently reporting on a 3-5-week product delivery time. You also must account for installation appointment times. To be safe, order your device now and book your appointment for installation as soon as possible.

That should be everything you need to know to make an informed choice about an ELD that will suit your business and operating needs. Want more info? Check out our other ELD blog posts:

How To Pick The Best ELD Device that Won’t Break Your Bank Account was last modified: by