The ELD mandate has arrived. No more delays. Effective December 16, 2019, all carriers and drivers subject to the rule must use electronic logging devices (ELDs) to monitor their compliance. (Canada’s equivalent ruling goes into effect in June 2021.)
We’ve written in the past about what this means for shippers, and how their businesses stand to benefit from greater availability of supply chain location data. For carriers, on the other hand, it can often feel as if the latest in a long chain of demands from customers and brokers to change their operations while everybody else reaps the benefits. I’m here to say that while digital transformation is necessary for carriers to survive and thrive in today’s logistics landscape, it can be beneficial for carriers as well.
Complete supply chain visibility is a top priority for major shippers throughout the U.S. — and one that they’re still far from fully realizing. This means that anything the carrier can do to help their shipper and 3PL customers achieve their goals of total visibility can be a major competitive differentiator. Even smaller carriers stand to benefit from heightened visibility, as demand continues to grow for owner-operators who can track with a high degree of accuracy, and better data serves to level the playing field between shippers and carriers.
Not all visibility partners are created equal, however — and not all will help the carrier protect their data. Here are a few of the biggest things I think small carriers should be aware of as we cross into a fully ELD-enabled industry.
1. Know Who’s Tracking You (and What They Need to Know)
There are a lot of good reasons that drivers and carriers are increasingly uneasy about the ELD Mandate. Especially for smaller carriers, the risk is very real that giving away data to the wrong parties could equate to getting nothing in return or — worse — giving away business advantages and potentially creating unfair pricing pressure on you and your company. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of who you’re sharing your data with — and who they’re then turning around and sharing that data with.
When sharing your data, be sure to check references. Always know a company’s motivation before you share your data. Some companies, like FourKites, want your data so that they can provide value for a mutual customer — a shipper, broker or 3PL. In other words, we’re trying to get a location for a specific load at the request of your customer, giving you a direct incentive in the form of improved customer experience and satisfaction.
2. Know What You’re Being Asked to Share
Everybody wants your data these days, but not all of them are going to give you benefits in return. At FourKites we track freight, not empty trucks.
Freight is hauled from a specific pickup location to a specific destination. Once the freight is picked up and dropped off, we stop tracking. It’s that simple.
This goes for brokers, too. If a broker requests access to your truck’s location through FourKites, there are protections in place to make sure that your data remains your own. We never give out the ELD credentials themselves; only the location of the load being moved, and only while the truck is hauling the load. Once the load enters the geofence and is marked as delivered, we stop tracking it.
The reason for this is that not only would pulling more data than we need be a breach of your trust, it would also do nothing for us. In other words, we don’t want to track your empty moves because it does nothing to help us deliver value to you or FourKites customers and being a trusted partner to carriers is incredibly important to us. If it’s not readily apparent what data a provider is asking for or why, it might be a red flag that sharing your data with them might not be a mutually beneficial course of action.
3. Control Your Data
FourKites is currently the most transparent supply chain visibility platform. We allow carriers to see, in detail, where their data is being shared, the details of the load that are being shared and to use the FourKites platform to help manage your business at no cost. Not only that, they can also change who it’s being shared with or even turn off data sharing completely. In short, each carrier retains total control over their data.
Just a few weeks ago, we hosted some representatives from the Rate Per Mile Masters Owner/Operator group, one of the largest associations of owner-operators in the country.
“It’s not the ELD Mandate that has owner-operators worried,” says Chad Boblett, Owner of Boblett Brothers Trucking. “It’s what third-parties want to use that data for. That’s why companies like FourKites, which give even the smallest carriers total control over their data and who gets to access it, are so important to keeping our business fair and thriving.”
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As much as we know we’re in the big data business, we consider ourselves to be in the partnership business as well. Whether you’re a shipper, carrier, 3PL, or broker or owner-operator, we’re here to partner with you and ensure that our platform provides value for all parties. We help shippers understand where their loads are in real-time. We help carriers improve operational efficiency, and build trust and transparency with their shipper customers.
I hope this helps take some of the sting out of the looming spectre of the ELD mandate, and the many requests for data sharing that go along with it. I invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn if you want more information. I’m always happy to answer any questions you may have about ELDs, visibility and modern freight visibility.