As part of the ‘Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act’ (thankfully shortened to just MAP-21), up to 3 million fleet managers across the U.S. must install hours-of-service (HOS) logging devices in all their vehicles before December 18, 2017. These Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) have been mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and the new rules will apply to those vehicles in the U.S. that need to fill out records of duty status (RODS), including those traveling to Canada and Mexico. RODS, commonly known as “driver’s logs,” show a record of the driver’s times every day, whether driving or not, and until now have been recorded using paper and pen.
Less Paperwork, Simpler HOS Recording
While many fleet vehicles use these systems already, the FMCSA have made ELDs mandatory in order to fully eliminate paper records, which are surely not ideal given the range and shift patterns of most fleet drivers. This change will also mean that drivers’ hours are more accurately recorded, leading to many secondary benefits for fleet managers and drivers, such as more accurate taxation, insurance, and avoidance of disputes around pay and vacation time.
The Cost of Progress
The issue is that these devices will need to be sourced and implemented by the carriers and drivers themselves, with an expected cost of around $1,000 plus services. For small businesses, this may prove to be expensive, as the costs of dealing with different operators perhaps across borders and transmitting data using a plan that is not set up for IoT use, can all add up to more than the device setup itself.
As part of the many clarifications brought out by the FMCSA after their initial announcement (including the fact that vehicles with engine models older than 2000, not a vehicle ID number older than 2000, will be exempt from these changes), the mandate now allows for smartphones, tablets, and rugged handhelds to be used, as long as the system as a whole meets ELD requirements, including a hardwired connection to the truck’s engine. This amendment will make it much simpler for these fleet telematics systems to be integrated, and for users to get up to speed quickly, but could still saddle small enterprises with sizeable connectivity costs if they have been caught off guard by this new requirement.
Wholesale IoT Plans With Major U.S. Operators
Flexible data packages are not always easy to find, and for small to medium enterprises looking for IoT connectivity that will cover them with a plan designed for their needs, not for consumer use, it can be a real headache to deal with operators and understand the tariffs of each one. M2M specific connectivity has progressed a long way since the dawn of the IoT, and at PodM2M we have been perfecting our single network native solution since before IoT was even a term. We have built up a strong community of operators that allow Pod Group IoT SIM cards to use their network infrastructure, enabling us to offer flexible data plans that are tailored to IoT applications and your requirements.
Flexibility for IoT Applications
With flexible agreements to add or remove networks, and wholesale plans with major U.S. MNOs specifically for the low data transfer of IoT applications, Pod can help fleet managers get up to code before the deadline of December 18, and continue to feel the benefit of a digitized fleet into the future.