No matter what Dunkin Donuts may have you believe, America doesn’t run on Dunkin — it runs on trucks. According to the most recently available statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 70% of all goods that are moved in the U.S. are transported by trucks. That added up to $10 trillion of a total of $13.6 trillion goods moved in 2012 alone.
Trucking is an extremely dangerous occupation, the eighth most deadly job in the United States, according to Forbes. To make it safer, a rule from the federal Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will go into effect this December, requiring that trucks install electronic logging devices (ELDs) that track the number of hours driven by truck drivers, and a lot more information as well.
ELDs are devices that plug directly into under-the-dashboard ports on trucks and automatically record a wide variety of information from the truck’s engine and electronic systems. The ELD law requires that ELDs record the date, time, location data, hours the engine is in use, miles driven, and identification information for the driver and vehicle. That all has to be recorded on an hourly basis at a minimum.
Recording the data is just one part of the new rule. The data also has to be readily available on electronic devices. Currently, trucking companies can record the hours that truckers drive in paper logs.
This will be a massive undertaking. The FMCSA estimates the U.S. has half a million trucking firms. Equipping all those trucks with ELD systems will cost about $1 billion, the agency says. It will be expensive to do for trucking companies, and potentially confusing as well, because there are so many different types of ELDs available.
Mobile apps running on smartphones and tablets are an important way that companies can easily meet the new mandate without a great deal of expense. Just as important, the apps can also help trucking companies better manage their fleets, reduce expenses such as for maintenance, and improve their efficiency and productivity.
Instead of buying an expensive, all-in-one ELD system that might not connect to a company’s backend database, a trucking firm can instead buy inexpensive ELDs for their trucks, and then build apps that run on smartphones and tablets to automatically log all the data gathered by the ELD, via Bluetooth or some other means. The apps can do more than just gather data. They can also display it, using many different kinds of mobile forms. And the data can be searched on and filtered.
That data is gold for trucking firms. The firms can tie mobile apps to their backend systems, and have the data available for any purpose they want. So, for example, they can use it to track the maintenance of all their trucks, making sure the vehicles run at top efficiency and don’t break down. That will make sure that trucks more easily pass roadside inspections.
The information can also be used to better schedule truckers’ time and help the company overall work more efficiently. Beyond that, the apps can ensure that trucking firms don’t get hit with fine for recordkeeping violations, which is up to $15,502 per violation.
The upshot of all this: If you’re a trucking company, don’t look at the upcoming ELD rule as an annoyance. Instead, use mobile apps to treat it as an opportunity to increase efficiency and reduce costs, while improving trucker safety.
If you want more information about the ELD rule, read this FAQ put out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Alpha Anywhere is the ideal solution for building mobile apps to work with ELDs. It makes it easy to build mobile-optimized forms ideally suited for capturing, displaying and using ELD-captured information. It also offers comprehensive back-end data access for integrating with a wide variety of databases, as well as robust mobile app security. And its offline capabilities means you can build mobile apps that work, even when truck drivers are in locations without internet access.