Report: early struggles with ELDs

(Photo: Shutterstock)

(Photo: Shutterstock)

3PL service provider, Zipline Logistics, specializing in retail and grocery transportation, recently conducted the first of several surveys to come on the ELD Mandate. The survey includes responses from more than 100 trucking companies of various sizes with the intention of keeping a pulse on the industry.

Mike Horn, Carrier Sales Representative for Zipline, calls the Mandate “one of the most significant regulatory disruptions to the trucking industry in recent history.” He says it will have a “ripple effect throughout supply chains everywhere from truck drivers all the way to end consumers.”

The survey results demonstrate that trucking companies are struggling with deliveries, especially ones that only recently installed ELDs. One main reason for the struggle is too much time wasted at shippers and receivers. FreightWaves just released a Top 5 best practices to be a “shipper of choice,” or preferred shipper, as the subject is gaining traction in supply chain circles. Naturally, there are still learning curves for dispatchers and drivers to optimize efficiency.

Among the struggles, companies are experiencing greater difficulty dispatching their trucks due to budgeting time for unforeseen challenges, and the inflexibility of the Hours of Service (HOS) rules. According to the report, companies with larger fleets (31 or more trucks and multiple terminal locations) prefer loads with longer hauls. Their infrastructure allows for the long hauler to driver until the 14-hour clock expires, then relays the last mile for local delivery to drivers with fresh hours. By contrast, carriers with 30 or fewer trucks usually have to do both linehaul and delivery.

When asked about the difficulty in making deliveries on time since the Mandate, 95% said it is more difficult to make deliveries on time. One respondent wrote, “Loads must ready when trucks get there to load or we pull out of the shipper.” Another wrote, “The ELD mandate just makes it harder to hit specific pickup and delivery times, especially when facilities keep us for an extended period of time, past two hours.”

The report also shows that morale has been negatively impacted. 84% of respondents said morale is down, and 71% report that productivity is down. Also, 87% said it is more difficult to make deliveries on time. “Big chunk of drivers left the company,” said one respondent. “Many drivers are getting out of the business,” said another.

The question that fires everyone up is about safety. Possibly because the jury is still out on exactly how much. There were more people who said safety has improved under ELDs, but the ones who feel roads are less safe were more vocal. It’s a heated topic with much debate, passion, and opinion. “The true results are still largely unknown,” Bethany Cramer of Zipline tells FreightWaves.

Interestingly, 61% of respondents said safety has increased, while 39% said it has decreased. FreightWaves has covered the issue regarding safety on numerous occasions, none with more trucker-minded vehemence than here. Naturally, the FMCSA argues that the ELD Mandate will save 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries resulting from crashes involving large motor vehicles.

Throughout the survey some drivers expressed their thoughts and feelings about having to rush to make up for overall loss of productivity. One respondent wrote, “The ELD mandate is supposed to be about safety, but livestock carriers, concert and entertainment transporters are exempt. If it's about safety, why are certain groups allowed to be exempt but others not?” Another said, “Our company doesn’t do over the road anymore because it’s more stressful for the drivers to be on duty 14 straight hours without the flexibility of going on/off duty when tired."  

Early disruptions have long been expected, but just how much the ELD Mandate will impact the capacity crunch remains to be seen. The inflexible HOS rule, however, should be addressed sooner rather than later.

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