Hours and EOBRs: Operator challenge No. 2
Devices like Xata Turnpike’s RouteTracker come with no down payment, just a monthly addition to your cellular service plan and apps on your existing smartphone. J.J. Keller’s eLog device and Sable Truck Systems’ Android tablet EOBR have up-front hardware costs under $500. Keller’s has a nominal monthly maintenance fee, but Sable’s has none.
Thomas Bray, senior transportation management editor for J.J. Keller, advises operators to stay aware of the market and choices for compliant devices.
“If somebody hasn’t looked at EOBRs in the last five years, it’s gone down from thousands of dollars to just a few hundred dollars” in terms of average device cost, he says. “As it goes mandatory in a few years, so many people will jump into the market that it will be very cheap.”
He points to cell phone market trends as analogous. “My cell phone contractor now throws in a free cell phone” with every contract, he says. EOBRs may end up being much the same, with customers paying primarily for service.
Early adopters will get the benefit of better service from vendors, Bray says. “You’ll be able to learn how to operate in that electronic environment earlier,” getting a leg up on your competition. “You can do the transition in a more controlled manner.”
Sample smartphone logging apps.
Most smartphone apps designed for logging hours of service do not have a level of functionality that will satisfy federal requirements for monitoring hours compliance. Still, at less than $10, they present an easy, private alternative for getting accustomed to some aspects of electronic logging.