The BigRoad provider of the smartphone-based computer-assisted logbook and, increasingly in recent years, the DashLink engine-connected automatic onboard recording device (AOBRD) notes the company is “fully on track” with updates to DashLink to better fit the technical specifications of the December-released electronic logging device (ELD) mandate. Terry Frey, founder and CEO of the company, says a new version of the DashLink hardware is in the works to “include GPS and memory right on the device,” different from the prior version, which relied on operators’ smartphones/tablets for both.
The new version will continue to be a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) sort of solution in that drivers will navigate the software via smartphones/tablets. But “we wanted to make sure that as we proliferate the hardware ‘dongles’ – the engine connections,” he says — “they can move standalone” from truck to truck and operator to operator.
The engine-connected box remains non-cellular-connected, Frey adds, though “we’re moving a lot of our application code down to that box, too, so that it can run ‘disconnected’ [from the smartphone itself, which might move with the driver] for periods of time without a break in service.”
The changes, Frey adds, are geared toward “making that experience for the small fleet very easy – making the plug in very easy.”
The new fully ELD-compliant hardware will begin shipping next month, Frey says, its use priced as the previous DashLink iteration had been — $10 monthly per truck for the hardware, $15 per driver. Hardware ownership — “if we get enough demand for it,” he says — could follow at a single as-yet-undetermined hardware price.
The new version will contain a software switch for the back office or independent owner-operator that will allow for the units to switch between current AOBRD specifications/regulations and those in the ELD mandate. “We’re getting some companies saying, ‘I’ll run AOBRD on my older ones and run ELDs on my newer ones.’ With this, you can have one package” for both.
Frey adds that downloads of the basic computer-assisted logbook app have also increased in recent times, and that he sees such as evidence more drivers are showing interest in trying out computer-assisted logs in advance of the mandate.
BigRoad has been somewhat unique among logging-device providers to date in catering to smaller operations — and drivers themselves. Frey views the company’s software and device updates as of a piece with that mission. Small fleets and independent owner-operators “don’t have [information technology] resources,” by and large, Frey says. Company owners are often safety officer, sales rep, operations manager and, in the case of independents, driver all in one. BigRoad’s mission is to “act as all of those,” as applicable, for such owners.
What comes next for the company is “a lot more energy around what trip planning looks like” as a part of the software, Frey says, to help drivers, owner-operators and small fleets “plan ahead” around available hours.
“‘Give me the view three days from now,'” as he paraphrases the notion, “helping small fleets operate their business by giving them views forward. That will be a core thing for us,” in addition to a better workflow in the back-office software for electronic. driver vehicle inspection reports.
Finally, the company hopes to utilize the engine connection to deliver driver-performance metrics like time spent idling, mpg and the like. Unlike many providers of such software, however, “we’ll give that information to the driver” rather than the fleet.