More hopes and hazards: ELD data aggregation for advocacy, predictive maintenance, other uses

Previously in this series: More ELD data hopes and hazards: Load matching efficiency improvements

Aggregated data as a tool for advocacy
Some research organizations and even ELD providers are using aggregate ELD data to advocate for regulatory change or other industry purposes.

The American Transportation Research Institute leaned on ELD data to package a research report advocating for greater hours of service flexibility last year. The group studied drivers that traveled through Atlanta’s interstate interchanges, using, with permission, their ELD information. The study showed how long they sat in traffic — and how they could have avoided heavy congestion if they’d been able to pause their 14-hour clock and go off-duty until traffic lifted.

ATRI late last year asked carriers to share their ELD data for more general research purposes, hoping to “collect and warehouse” the aggregated data to add “scientifically valid analysis” to studies it undertakes.

ELD data “can provide a wealth of insight and research support to our industry,” said Andrew Boyle, co-president of Boyle Transportation and an ATRI board member, in October. “But we clearly need a trusted third-party facilitator to manage and monitor how the information is used. ATRI is uniquely suited to serve that role. In the right context, ELDs can provide the real-world data needed to guide future regulations and initiatives.”

KeepTruckin’s work to geofence shipper locations to track dwell time goes back years. In November 2017, the company launched a signature campaign to petition the U.S. Department of Transportation to examine ELD user data and grant a two-hour extension to the 14-hour on-duty maximum to drivers detained for more than two hours at a shipper or receiver. Company data showed such detention happened on average seven times monthly for KT ELD users.

The company also was able to document an increase in speeding incidents after two-hour-plus detention. It was presented as evidence of a hurry-up effect inherent in driving periods following undue delays.

While “we never got an official response” from the agency, says CEO Shoaib Makani, the petition “was definitely circulated there, and we do now have a line of communication with the agency.”

Predictive maintenance and other benefits
Aggregated data from users in the network of the Geotab telematics supplier has enabled some predictive maintenance capabilities. As of late last year, its ELD was used by around 4 percent of readers of Overdrive and its sister fleet magazine, CCJ.

One recent addition is a “data analytics product that allows us to look at battery failure,” says Dirk Schlimm, executive vice president. “We can tell the customer, ‘It looks like you need to change your battery,’” Schlimm adds.

One example of predictive analytics based on ELD-derived data is being able to predict when a battery is likely to go bad.One example of predictive analytics based on ELD-derived data is being able to predict when a battery is likely to go bad.

Such a predictive tool, deployed around other components, could help smaller carriers refine maintenance scheduling and avoid breakdowns without big investments in staffing to monitor data from truck ECMs, Schlimm says. With its ability to aggregate data and provide insights based on “more than a million vehicles,” including automobiles and heavy-duty trucks, Geotab sees maintenance-program value as high for its small fleet users.

“An individual owner-operator receives a powerful analytics tool” that’s well more than just a fault-code analyzer/reporter or a tracker of individual vehicle data, he says.

Konexial, provider of the My20 ELD, touts its own GoLoad freight-matching platform as a “value-added service.” The same goes for the company’s GoFuel program, which provides discounts on fuel and tire purchases, among other benefits.

To enjoy these discounts, often available only to larger fleets, operators must opt in to share ELD data for aggregation to allow the programs to function.

“We believe owner-operators and small carriers should be using their data for their own benefit, to make more profit,” says Ken Evans, founder and head for Konexial. “There’s a concrete benefit to allowing your data to be used.”

In some instances, says Evans, operators can save hundreds of dollars per load via the two platforms. That’s based on the average 25 cents-per-gallon savings via GoFuel and the shipper-direct freight available on GoLoad. Konexial is not operating as a broker, but built its system in partnership with a transportation management software platform used by shippers.

Geotab’s also built what Schlimm colloquially calls a “pothole detector.” It delivers insights not on individual potholes but on the condition of particular road segments.

The tool is not for sale, he says, but is being made “available to public sector partners” such as cities or transportation authorities. It’s based on analysis of patterns in swerves and other data pulsed from an updated accelerometer in the Geotab device.

Next in this series: When ELD data sharing provides too much insight

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