Good management is all about balance. Spend too much time on one thing, and all of a sudden you’re behind on a dozen other tasks.
Managing a fleet of vehicles is no different. However — ironically for any managers feeling the stress of looming deadlines — one new big deadline could be the thing fleet managers actually needed to cut out the busywork and get back on track.
The final deadline for the ELD mandate has just flown by. All commercial vehicles in the US must now use ELD-compliant technology to track their drivers’ work hours, or face thousands in fines. But the software and hardware system that can help fleets stay legal can also offer additional benefits, if its integrated with a full fleet management system.
Get a top ELD device from the right fleet management provider, and you’ll cut out the paperwork entirely while moving faster and gaining valuable real-time data on safety habits, fuel use, and more. Here are the main ways an ELD-compliant service can help you find that balance you need.
No More Paperwork
The most obvious upside to a digital data-logging device? You won’t need any more pen-and-ink paperwork.
Any ELD-compliant device will automatically compile reports for drivers, managers and officers (in cases of ELD mandate checks) alike.
From the top ELD providers, drivers will get a mobile app that lets them input their hours of service with the touch of a button, and the device will use that data to auto-generate a report when needed. During a roadside inspection, drivers will be able to transfer their Records of Duty Status (RODS) data quickly and easily.
Managers will need to have the past six months of your drivers’ RODS information backed up at all times to satisfy the ELD mandate too, but any ELD-compliant fleet management system makes that process simple as well.
Depending on the type of app drivers use, they might even be able to add photos of their expense receipts to each trip, giving managers a paperless record of all expenses.
Granted, your drivers should still keep a few paper log sheets around as a precaution, but with any luck, you’ll never have to comb through a ream of months-old timesheets ever again.
Reduced Fuel Costs
Possibly the biggest money-saving feature a full ELD-inclusive fleet management solution has to offer is not just the ability to avoid penalties, but its fuel tracking services. Any top system will track how much drivers spend on fuel, as well as where they are and when they buy it. Using this data, the software can calculate which IFTA tax rates apply, and let managers save money.
Plus, the airtight record-keeping serves to deter any misuse or human error that might occur when drivers are solely responsible for tracking their fuel use. A fleet management system can also save fuel in other ways, such as through suggesting the best routes to avoid traffic, and tracking lengthy idle times.
Better Maintenance and Safety
Fleet management software safety features can identify poor driving habits like harsh braking, fast cornering, and speeding. Armed with this information, managers can address these habits before the wear and tear adds up to a malfunction that puts drivers in danger.
Typical maintenance needs can be tracked as well, with automatic notifications letting managers know when a vehicle needs a routine checkup or emissions test.
Route-planning is an essential element in any fleet management system. Managers will be able to pick the right driver for each job, and the software can figure out which route will be the most efficient. It will take into account traffic and weather conditions, updating in real time to let the driver know when to adjust their route to save time and boost profits.
A geofencing feature can let managers know if a vehicle strays outside of an assigned area, as well. Over time, the software can learn which paths are the quickest, so the fleet will continue gaining an edge in route efficiency for years into the future.
Finally, a data-rich fleet management service can reduce liability by monitoring vehicles. This can help identify and prevent erratic driving, and, if an accident takes place, can offer some evidence to support the driver’s case provided they are not at fault.
In addition, depending on the insurance policy in question, fleets may also see lower insurance on their vehicles, since the top providers offer additional safety measures that limit the likelihood of an accident.
All commercial fleets will need to adapt to ELDs to comply with the law. But the new software doesn’t have to be a burden. Pick an ELD device combined with a great fleet management service, and you’ll gain a wide array of useful features, notifications, and data that will all add up to save you even more money than before. When it comes to digital fleet management, cutting down on paperwork is just the beginning.
Fleet of Vehicles image credit: iStockphoto.com/portfolio/kblock007