Key Takeaways

  • ELD (Electronic Logging Device): ELDs automatically record driving time by synchronizing with a truck’s engine, replacing manual logbooks and ensuring safer, more accurate service recording.
  • Regulatory Context: ELDs are mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) with exceptions like vehicles manufactured before 2000 or those using paper logs sparingly.
  • Benefits to the Freight Industry: ELDs enhance in-transit visibility for freight brokers and 3PLs, automate tracking, ensure carrier compliance, and aid in troubleshooting, providing significant value for freight management.

What is an ELD (electronic logging device)?

An Electronic Logging Device is a tool used by carriers and truckers to automatically record driving time.

How it works?

The device synchronizes to the truck’s engine. Every time the engine is turned on the device will start recording hours of service (HOS) which ultimately leads to easier, more accurate service recording.

ELD’s have helped replaced manual logbooks which were solely reliant on self-recording of the truck driver. Electronic logging devices (ELDs) are intended to create a safer work environment for drivers of commercial motor vehicles, and make it easier and faster to accurately track, manage, and share data on driving and off-duty time.

Why do most carriers have ELDs?

Carriers and commercial trucks drivers, with some exceptions, have ELDs as it is required by law and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Electronic Logging Devices have been adopted by Congress and congressionally mandated as a part of MAP-21. 

Exceptions to MAP-21 do exist. In these cases, ELD’s are not exempt and not required by law.

First, instances where a driver uses paper logs no more than 8 days during any 30-day period. Second, for fleets with older vehicles, ELD’s are not required if the vehicles were manufactured before the year 2000.

Why ELDs matter to Freight Brokers and 3PLs

To provide service levels that meet and exceed customer expectations, freight brokers & 3PLs require in-transit visibility and monitoring of their carrier partners.

Due to the high volume of carriers used by freight brokers and 3PLs, achieving this level of visibility manually is a significant challenge.

ELDs help address this challenge by providing a consistent and automated connection point to your carriers if using a visibility platform to consolidate location data and automatically monitor your freight.

With the highest levels of tracking compliance, electronic logging devices help fulfill requirements for carriers, their customers, and government regulations.

How do ELDs connect/provide data to a visibility network?

ELD and telematics systems are connected to our industry leading integration network by a dedicated activations team that works closely with our technology partners to make sure users have all the connection points required. Here’s how it works:

  • ELD providers make APIs available to grab location data that the ELD unit is reporting
  • Visibility provider develops integration to grab that location data
  • Carrier that’s customer of ELD provider allows visibility provider to get access to data
  • For example, carrier and/or ELD provider providing the visibility provider with API login info

How do I track my carrier’s ELDs?

Tracking via ELD is simple. Descartes MacroPoint connects directly to the ELD providers via API, then carriers provide necessary authorization allowing data exchange. Once the connection is established, we simply need a valid truck or trailer number for tracking to begin. Descartes MacroPoint reaches out to the ELD provider for the specific carrier and truck/trailer, pulling in the most recent location update and time stamp.

What is an API?

API stands for Application Programming Interface. They are software gateways that helps interact and synchronize data from any number of sources, and in this case, ELD devices that make it possible to track and log transportation data.

APIs makes it possible for instant data exchanges with great accuracy which helps eliminate human error and manual data entry.

Popular ELD providers Top 10:

  1. Motive – serves more than 120,000 businesses across a wide range of industries, including trucking and logistics, construction, oil and gas, food and beverage, field service, agriculture, passenger transit, and delivery.
  2. Samsara – With integrated dash cams, driver safety scores, and automatic alerts for speeding, idling, and geofences, Samsara helps you protect your business and assets.
  3. Geotab – delivers the telematics and management features that small, medium and enterprise fleet operators need to improve safety, reduce costs and achieve corporate sustainability goals.
  4. Omnitracs – automatically send diagnostic, positioning, and log data from the palm-sized XRS Relay device to your back office via smartphone or tablet for near-real time visibility and ensured compliance
  5. Peoplenet – carriers of all shapes and sizes find value in not only knowing where their fleet is, but in the ability to proactively manage that fleet for better safety, compliance, protection and customer service.
  6. Verizon Reveal – offers fleet and mobile workforce management software to deliver solutions that help drive safety, productivity and efficiency for customers.
  7. GPS Insight – offers all-encompassing fleet software for organizations with fleets of vehicles, trailers, and other mobile assets.
  8. BigRoad – solution that for drivers, fleet managers, dispatchers and safety managers with features that help prioritize safety and compliance, eliminate paperwork and avoid fines.
  9. EROAD – Provides support on the road to keep processes and loads moving, turning complex fleet data into better fleet performance.
  10. SkyBitz – trailer tracking and information management service provider, specializing in real‐time decision-making tools for companies with unpowered assets.

What kind of data can ELD tracking provide?

Location Data

Real-time visibility is now being looked at as the top capability required for the transportation management industry, per our industry benchmark study. And rightfully so, being able to view, track, and communicate load location in real-time is vital to today’s business practices.

Disruptions / Delays

Supply chain disruptions are a common place in the industry. Being able to mitigate and proactively deal with them is key. That’s where ELD tracking data can help. By communicating to customers and stakeholders about visibility and possible delays, freight teams can lessen the blow of a disruption.

Temperature Monitoring

In the case of condition sensitive loads, ELD’s can help pull data such as temperature from trailer GPS units if available. This helps ensure the product in the right state and helps prevent potential spoilage.

Cross-Border Tracking

In the case where freight passes through country borders, mobile applications can often be limited, often having issues with driver data and swapping drivers. ELD/Trailer GPS eliminates that issue altogether.

What are the benefits of tracking ELDs?

Improved tracking compliance

More loads are tracked via ELD when compared to mobile app or TMS integration tracking. This is due to the nature of having an ELD installed in every truck, allowing for more consistent levels of tracking data. ELD tracking is reliable.

Not invasive to, or relying on drivers (instant-on, and reliable)

Relying on truck drivers during load transportation is dangerous and unreliable. Truck drivers are focusing on the road and need to avoid distractions. ELDs helps provide a non-invasive way to track your freight by utilizing technology that is already in place, and not asking them to do more work.

Enables true tracking process automation (no need for manual data entry)

ELD’s allow for easy set-up and installation. Set it, forget it, and get connected. When you book a load with ELD we are pulling critical truck information from TMS integration, eliminated the need for manual data entry for a per tracking basis (single tracking session)

Mobile app, every single driver has to download mobile app to get tracking – manual entry of drivers phone number

Know that your carriers are compliant and practicing safe driving

Since ELD’s are non-invasive and do not require any work/constant participation from the driver, operations can continue like normal. Drivers are practicing better safety while ELD’s help ensure drivers are practicing compliance. Truck drivers have a great responsibility for this country. They are the veins and arteries of America, helping move 72% of the freight around the nation. They also have a responsibility due to their sheer size and volume. Truck drivers require their own licenses for a reason. Often times carrying up to 80,000 pounds on busy highways means these drivers must practice the highest level of safety. Tracking with ELD’s help maintain compliance, ensure drivers are executing safe driving practices, and keeps your freight protected.

Easier to troubleshoot

The MacroPoint Action Center (MAC) is a tool to help freight teams with troubleshoot tracking compliance issues. A single dashboard with multiple features help troubleshoot active tracking sessions in real time and help you get back to tracking data. Here are the 5 areas the MAC helps troubleshoot.

  • Loads Waiting Assignment – Quickly identify all shipments lacking driver information and quickly assign with a truck, trailer, or mobile numbers
  • Invalid Truck/Trailer – Rapidly fix inaccurate truck and trailer numbers leveraging Descartes MacroPoint’s Good Truck API data suggestions
  • Requesting App Install – Pinpoint drivers who need assistance installing the MacroPoint for Trucks mobile app with on-the-spot driver texting capabilities
  • Stop Past Appointment – Recognize stops missing arrival and departure data enabling users to supply times instantaneously
  • Waiting For Location Update – Spot shipments pending location updates and manually trigger in-transit updates to resume tracking

The MAC, combined with the reliability of ELD tracking creates the best tracking compliance performance in the industry.

What other ways can I track freight? 

When it comes to tracking freight, the two main additional methods include:

  1. Mobile app – Truck drivers have to download an app provided by a teams visibility network, allowing for instant access via GPS tracking
  2. TMS integrations – Transportation managements systems and their integrations with visibility networks allow for freight brokers to track loads through the software

Pros and cons of Mobile App Tracking

Pros – With a constant flow of new, low-tech, and spot market carriers, mobile app tracking is an easy way to stay flexible and keep up to date on freight shipments. It’s very easy to install and begins working as soon as carriers download it from the app store. It’s extremely friendly for truck drivers and owner operators a like. The mobile app allows them to keep running normal operations and avoids constant communication like phone calls and emailing. This prevents distracted driving and helps keep all parties safe.

Cons – The main concern with the mobile app is the willingness to rely and count on drivers/owner operators. We need them to download the app for this to be successful. If they aren’t willing, then tracking doesn’t work. While the MacroPoint for Truckers mobile app is very secure and widely trusted, there’s plenty of privacy concerns with personal devices and downloading applications for work. Threats of personal data and access to private information is growing larger every year.

“It’s sorta my secretary, app works very well, I’ve been using it for over 5 yrs. My brokers love it when I tell them I’ve already have it, and it’s good to go.”

Robert B. MacroPoint Mobile App User

Pros and cons of TMS integration

Pros – Automation and reliability. Great for operations using a consistent carrier mix. Constant updates from your TMS keep everyone up to date in real-time.

Cons – IT Skills required. May not work for all carriers. Ability to pass inaccurate or false data.

“MacroPoint is a very good tool. A very nice tool, very friendly tool, very intuitive tool. And once you start using this tool, you will fall in love with this tool, you will never move it out of your operation.”

Carlos Aquilar, Sr. Manager Americas Logistics, Maxeon Solar

EDI – Event Status updates via EDI

Pros – Basic visibility, removal of some manual tasks, event status tracking

Cons – Latent data, not real-time, no in transit data

With enhanced supply chain collaboration, visibility, and process automation, Descartes has provided a solution for Carestream Health, a world provider for X-ray imaging systems. Carestream has removed lower value tasks and communication from its supplier and customer interactions in favor of much more rapid, cost-effective and error-free transaction management.

-Carestream Customer Success Story

Descartes MacroPoint Real-Time Visibility Platform

Tracking carriers and gaining detailed insights into their location is essential for success in the freight industry.

Using the Descartes MacroPoint Real-Time Visibility Platform provides freight brokers and 3PLs the ability to track their loads/shipments across different transportation modes in real-time.

Benefits include:

  • Improve Decision Making – With better data and insights come better decision from you and your team
  • Better Customer Service – Location data can be relayed to other parties and customers, improving relations
  • Increase ROI – Visibility prevents costly detention/demurrage fees and reduces costs, increasing the ROI for an organization

Gain access to extended capabilities with the leading visibility platform on the market, Descartes MacroPoint. Gain control of your supply chain with real-time visibility. Contact us and speak to an expert.