E-logs and detention, redux | An 800-pound gorilla in need of a few good lumpers

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Updated Feb 10, 2017

Owner-operators’ views on the ELD mandate

As results of this latest polling (conducted last month) on views around the FMCSA’s electronic logging device mandate make clear, irrespective whether they’re using e-logs or not (11 percent of Overdrive‘s readers reported doing so in spring last year, most leased to larger fleets), the large majority remained opposed to any mandate for their use in hours recording.

A variety of reasons abound for that, and if you’re reading here on Overdrive I suspect you know those well. Atlanta-based Rico Muhammad, whose story of e-log transition and the resulting quagmire of detention/business operations issues is told in this month’s magazine and ran through our daily newsletter online here yesterday, believed he saw the ELD writing on the wall a long time ago and took another tack. Like many others no doubt, he looks at the issue practically, and as he was quoted in a 2015 report on a few other ELD early adopters among owner-operators and small fleets:

“If you’re not willing to adapt to change, you’ll get left behind. History is full of examples.” –owner-operator Rico Muhammad, quoted in 2015 in Overdrive just ahead of his two-truck business’ transition to engine-connected electronic logging devices

He’s been running the Rand McNally TND760 as an engine-connected e-log since late 2015. As intimated in the story from yesterday, the early-January week before we talked for that story, he’d picked up at a cold storage facility he’d been to before, and he knew it was likely to be a long wait (he’d been there before and was well familiar with the long waits). He immediately punched his e-log off-duty soon after he’d arrived for a 4 p.m. appointment and was told to wait.

When “they finally got us loaded,” he says, “it was 3 o’clock in the morning. I took my 10 hours there. By going to these e-logs, we can prove that we were there,” but though more sizable carriers using e-logs has helped the growing standardization of detention pay in contract (and spot to a certain extent) freight, with so many operators still not utilizing e-logs, such facilities aren’t feeling across-the-board pressure to make improvements.

Muhammad’s not the only operator or fleet owner out there to express this dynamic, delivering a sort of cautious optimism about an electronic future for hours. Mega-fleets are dealing with some of the same issues. Lane Kidd, Managing Director of the Trucking Alliance of several very-large fleets, noted Muhammad’s story struck a chord. “One hopes that with ELDs in [most] trucks, beginning late this year, that the shipping community can be compelled to operate more efficiently or must pay for their inefficiencies.”

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After his 10-plus hours spent at the cold storage facility, Muhammad started a new day with a full 14-hour on-duty window sitting in front of him. However, given the long delay, there was absolutely no way he would make the 8 a.m. appointment time for the drop at a grocery warehouse on the other end, “even running straight there,” no stops, he says. “They’re going to take you, but you get there and you sit and wait.”

He was two hours late at 10 a.m., and ultimately didn’t get out of there until 4 p.m., with but one hour to drive, enough time to find parking, maybe, definitely not enough to reload. As he noted in the story yesterday, good thing he didn’t book a reload for that day expecting he’d have plenty time to make it when he arrived at 10 a.m. to unload.

Had he done so, as he said, he’d be “looking like an idiot. It hurts you as a businessperson.”

If the ELD mandate goes through despite all ongoing effort to stop it (latest remains: lawmakers/administration attention is perhaps best hope, then the SCOTUS), he’s hopeful too that the cudgel of detention time and other measures work to tighten the ship at the loading docks. However, such big things don’t happen overnight, of course. Could be a wild ride.

Amazon Logo 2016 12 19 14 22Speaking of loading docks…

“Amazon needs to learn how to load or unload a truck in less than six hours (and that is giving a lot of grace) before they think about an app. When I go to book a load Amazon is on the top of my ‘Do Not Haul’ list. Just above Wal-Mart and food warehouses.” –Euyeau, commenting under news on the Dec 19 post on Channel 19 about reported plans at Amazon to build a smartphone app to match loads and trucks.

Nuff said?