With the apparent impending passing of regulation mandating the use of Electronic Logging Devices (ELD’s) late next year in Canada, many Canadian trucking companies are only just now beginning to search out solutions to comply. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, the market place is full of solution providers.Starting down the road to ELD (or ELOG) implementation can be fraught with challenges and pitfalls. While there is certainly getting to be more and more information available online and from other sources, often times this information and advice is being provided by ELD providers and is, ultimately, slanted to selling their product.
This blog is intended to the relay our experience of implementing ELD’s in a small Canadian trucking company. It is an unbiased set of suggestions and lessons learned (sometimes the hard way) about what you might want to consider when going through the process of ELOG implementation.
Included in this Blog will be access to our suggestions for:
Part 1 - ELOGs versus EOBRs - what's the difference?
Part 2 - Operational realities (and opportunities) of moving to ELOGs.
Part 3 - Finding a software and hardware supplier;
Part 4 - Implementation and Driver buy-in;
Part 5 - Harnessing the Power of an ELOG/Telematics System
Part 6 - Telematics Features and Capabilities
Part 4 - Steps to ELOG Implementation
This process will take longer than you think...start now. So, you've assessed your business' ability to comply with hours of service regulations and made operational changes to ensure you can, you've made decision about what type of solution is right for you (ELD vs ELD/EOBR), and researched and selected an software and hardware provider, the next step is to prepare your company to implement.
Include Your Drivers Early in the Process
As has been eluded to earlier, the buy-in of your drivers and how you go about transitioning to an ELOG world is crucial. Look, most of the industry is already grappling with a driver shortage - the last thing any of us want to do is make that worse by implementing something that your drivers won't accept. Having an informational meeting with your drivers early on (before the ELOG shows up in their truck), is a good...no, imperative, first step.
Put yourself in your drivers' shoes. So far, they are basing everything they know about ELOGs on, in many cases, what they've heard from other drivers on the two-way radio. Not always the best source of information. That said, take comfort in knowing that you are now far from the first company to implement ELOGs, many have been voluntarily running them for a few years now. In my experience, most drivers who have made an early transition to ELOGs would never go back to paper, so some of what your drivers are hearing on the road might actually be very positive.
Mostly, drivers are concerned about how these devices will impact their lives. We have an aging demographic and many of our older drivers are simply scared of change, particularly when that change includes technology - something they are often already very uncomfortable with. This goes back to the importance of simplicity when it comes to the ELOG component of your system. The simpler it is to operate, the larger the buttons are to see, the more intuitive the system is in either filling out a lot of the information, or how well it "guides" the driver through the steps to get through his day, the more readily your drivers will accept and transition.
Find an Internal Champion or Two and Transition Slowly
Okay, your opportunity to transition slowly is slipping away as regulation gets closer...but do your best here. Most of us have a couple of drivers who are technology savvy and just have to have the latest gadgets (pick the one who stands in line at Best Buy for the latest iPhone release!). Meet with them separately and solicit their help in getting this implemented in your business...because you know they are the one who can "lead" this roll out.
Work very closely with them in the early days both before and after system install to see how they are doing with the system and help them solve any problems early. Make sure you have supplier support here to be ready and available to assist in working through the challenges that will inevitably come up. (Yes, I guess I said it, you are going to encounter some challenges early on - but you will get past them).
One things that was very helpful for us was involving the local CVSE regional manager in our decision to transition to ELD's. We kept him apprised of what we were doing and we asked him for a "transition period", whereby we would have our drivers train on the ELOG system but continue to use their manual paper logbook as their official logbook. Our CSVE manager provided us with a letter to carry in each of the trucks authorizing this so as to avoid anyone charging us with running 2 logbooks during this training period. This way, our early days of ELOG use were much less stressful for our drivers knowing that any issues they encountered, or mistakes that they made, would not be held against them by CVSE.
Once your champion drivers are comfortable with the system (and hopefully talking it up on the radio), include them in group driver training sessions to begin transitioning your larger driver pool. Make sure that you ELOG provider has the capability and resources to provide classroom-style training at your facility, with a demonstration system that can emulate what the drivers will see in their trucks. Oh, and make sure you have included this driver training in your agreement with your chosen supplier, otherwise, cha-ching!
Be sure to include key operational people in all of the training that the drivers are experiencing. Soon they will be the ones fielding the, hopefully infrequent, calls from drivers needing help with the system. As well, these operational people will need additional training to know how to use the back-office aspects of the software (setting up new power units and trailers, adding employees and assigning user id's and rights, pulling information from the system for ELOGs, as well as telematics data if you choose that capability).
Maybe most importantly, have patience. In our experience the technology is best used as a learning tool to allow your company and your drivers to improve, not as a stick to easily identify all of their shortcomings.
If you found what you’ve just read to be valuable, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading the other five parts of this blog series. You can fill out the simple form below and I’ll be happy to email you a PDF of all 6 parts of this series.
Our journey to implement electronic logbooks in all our trucks was not without its ups and downs. Certainly, the most challenging part was getting all our drivers to embrace and use the new technology. If you want to have a chat sometime about how we went about getting buy in from all our drivers feel free to give me a call at 250.828.2821 or drop me an email email@example.com.
All the best, Greg Munden.