ELD headaches: Solving the dropped bluetooth connection issue

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Previously in this series: ELD headaches: Dealing with technical glitches and other equipment issues

Based on Overdrive polling, drivers’ most common problem with ELDs is dropped connections between a BYOD (“bring your own device,” typically a phone or tablet) and the device’s ECM plugin portion.

Results shown here show the distribution of issues experienced among owner-operators who have had some ELD equipment problem. No single problem was clearly dominant.Results shown here show the distribution of issues experienced among owner-operators who have had some ELD equipment problem. No single problem was clearly dominant.

Given wide pre-mandate use of smartphone-based logging programs by owner-operators, many have migrated to ELDs with BYOD systems that often connect an ECM plug-in device to the user interface on a phone or tablet program via Bluetooth, but occasionally the connection could be made through the cloud via a cellular connection or locally over Wi-Fi.

A year ago, Overdrive reported on the experience of small fleet DC Transport’s owner-operators during their beginning run with the J.J. Keller Encompass system ELD, where dropped Bluetooth connections were an issue from time to time.

In some systems, dropped connections can cause unassigned-driving events to mount for system operators responsible for reconciling multiple driver accounts, not to mention presenting potential issues of log currency for drivers during roadside inspections.

Katie Cullen, who last year oversaw the ELD transition at Chicago-area DC Transport, wrote in later to note no one had experience log-currency problems at roadside, and also offering her dropped-connection solution: Dedicating tablets to each owner-operator’s truck for logging.

Previously, drivers had been using their phones exclusively to log, keeping paper log backups as the company worked into the system. Cullen now attributes the dropped-connection issue to use of the phones, she says. Drops occurred when drivers “were making phone calls or running other apps at the same time, such as playing music via Bluetooth.”

Today, she says, “We have switched all our drivers over to dedicated tablets.” Without interfering applications in use, “we have had no Bluetooth connectivity issues.”

Another solution to dropped local connections is to run a device wired to the ECM directly, of which there are plenty of the sometimes more costly “dedicated unit” variety detailed in Overdrive‘s chart offering at-a-glance specs comparisons on many devices. The KeepTruckin BYOD ELD provider last year introduced a USB-connection alternative to its otherwise Bluetooth-paired system. The USB option, the company says, allows for speedier data transfer and a hardwired solution that also delivers continuous battery charging to the phone/tablet in the ELD pair.

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