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Big 3PL: More Shippers Demanding ELDs Ahead of Deadline

Fleets slow to adopt ELDs may well find themselves penalized by customers even before the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, according to some supply chain experts.

Ben Cubitt, vice president of engineering, procurement and consulting for billion-dollar 3PL Transplace, said shippers are increasingly adopting ELD deadlines for their carrier suppliers ahead of the December 2017 implementation date set by the government

“In March or April, shippers are really going to really want to know who’s going to be fully implemented by June, and you’ll probably see some shippers with mandates months before December,” he said on a Stifel conference call., as reported by Fleet Owner.

The upside for fleets: “I see a tremendous opportunity for shippers to do some better planning, with these constraints in hours of service. ELDs will help this discussion, as an unintended advantage.”

Transplace recently added ELD questions to the request for information (RFI) form carriers submit, including whether ELDs have been implemented, in what percentage of the fleet, and the carrier’s timetable for implementation.

In a recent company survey 199 of 294 carriers reported that greater than 75% of their assets were ELD compliant, and among carriers with more than 200 trucks, nearly 9 in 10 are already fully compliant.

Out of the smaller carriers which had not yet implemented ELDs, a third anticipated being compliant in 90-180 days, and yet another third said they wouldn’t be compliant for at least 180 days.

Cubitt notes some small truckers are still holding out as they grapple with increasing costs (equipment, driver pay) at a time of depressed rates.

“I think there are some people who will hold out and then make a decision about whether to stay in business,” he said.

Although the election of Donald Trump brings some expectation of a reduced regulatory agenda in the U.S., Cubitt is confident the ELD mandate will proceed as scheduled.

“There’s a lot of momentum behind [the ELD mandate]. This would not be a rule you’d want to hang your hat on not implementing. They vast majority of large fleets have implemented it and many small fleets are doing it. It’s a hard argument to make to the public that it’s a good rule to kill. Electronic logs make sense.”

AT the same time Cubitt thinks ELDs with spur an era of stronger carrier-shipper relationships and transparency.

“I think the [shipping] industry does a great job of telling carriers when they’re late picking up or late delivering – but we don’t do as good a job of tracking when we make a carrier or a driver unproductive. I think shippers are open to data and communication, and if ELDs arm carriers with better data, they can use that—that’s a good outcome,” he said.

“We’ve told our shippers that if they want to be good partners with carriers, they really have to do more planning. They may have to tailor that with a longer lead time, and 24/7 shippers are going to become much important. We’ve been in an environment where shippers haven’t had to negotiate much. Shippers have to become more aware.”

Full Fleet Owner story here.

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