Asking the tough questions is the key to ELD selection

ELD selection shouldn’t be taken lightly according to trucking experts who say that beyond setting high expectations in the C-Suite, carriers should avoid being obsessed with cost and look to d ‘other stakeholders who can better guarantee the best choice for the price.

When former trucking consultant Louis Giardelli, who now heads information technology at Veltri Trucking, was researching ELDs, he saw a red flag when a supplier made a cost concern.

“I think one of the things that turned us off one of the vendors towards the end was the cost,” Giardelli said during a recent TCA webinar hosted by ELD vendor ISAAC Instruments. “It was, ‘What number can I give you to make this happen?’ And that was probably the worst thing anyone could have said to us. Not that the cost didn’t matter. It was important. The cost had to be competitive, but I didn’t want anyone to sell his soul for our company.

[Related: Two more ELD providers earn Canadian certification]

Giardelli also said it was important to raise business expectations at Veltri, a regional carrier of about 150 trucks in Washington, Penn. Since the routes are less than 150 air miles, hours of service requirements are not the primary concern. However, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is an important factor which, if not working properly, can lead to many headaches and loss of efficiency, as was the case when Veltri tried to use consumer tablets with an ELD application.

“I found that the technology we had in place was totally unreliable,” said Giardelli, who added that before he joined the 74-year-old company, it was decided to focus more on a “cheaper” ELD solution. to do the job based on what many companies were doing.

This decision to run with the pack and buy a cheaper solution has led to troubling inefficiency.

“It’s a battle for the back office workers to finish what should have been done by the unit and the driver,” Giardelli said. “And that’s just a plethora of problems. Sometimes travel just doesn’t make it. Sometimes the battery is dead. Sometimes he is out of a geographical location and he cannot know where he is.

To help determine how the carrier could improve EDI and therefore its bottom line, Giardelli turned away from anecdotal evidence and relied on data to get a better sense of performance. Since hours of service don’t apply at Veltri, the word “compliance” means achieving operational excellence and Giardelli didn’t like what he saw.

“We started collecting and measuring information,” Giardelli said. “We said our compliance level was 74% peak and some people were very happy with 74% compliance meaning the driver was able to get an order, complete it and the customer was upgraded . I was like, ‘This is unacceptable. I don’t know where this would ever be acceptable.'”

Snuggle up and ask the tough questions

Now realizing it was time for a change, Veltri began looking for another ELD supplier. This time, with Giardelli on board, their latest research would be less about cost and more about improving performance.

ISAAC Instruments technical solutions specialist, Trent Gilles, recalled their determination.

“That’s one thing that I really enjoyed seeing with Veltri is that they weren’t afraid to ask the tough questions because they’ve felt the pain in the past and they have it. learned and that they know what they want for their future solution,” said Trent Gilles, technical solutions specialist at ISAAC Instruments.

Veltri’s more in-depth search included looking for references who had recently enrolled in an ELD. Gilles applauded this approach.

“The other piece is what happens after the contract from a maintenance perspective and ongoing maintenance and support, talking to experienced references to say, ‘Okay, now that the honeymoon phase is over, what does that look like in terms of our relationship with our partner rather than a supplier? said Gilles.

Involving more stakeholders in the selection process is also a wise move, Gilles said.

“I think a lot of people forget one thing, it’s always about technology, but also about execution, which means you have to look at the people who are going to make it happen,” Gilles said.

Where previously a steering committee had about five decision makers, this kind of approach does not bode well as technology develops and companies become more competitive in recruiting and retaining talent in times of labor shortages. ‘work.

“Today [steering committees] have somewhere between six and 11 members,” Gilles said. “Avoid blind spots by involving key stakeholders in all departments, including drivers, because the only thing you will understand from a pain perspective is that some of the pain is usually felt by end users.

“The pain, frustration and challenges facing the business are felt by them first,” continued Gilles. “Include your lead drivers and driver managers in the selection criteria so you can get the right solution, and the right solution, not the cheapest. It should be able to expand your business, not shrink your business. »

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