Preparing for the Electronic Log Mandate (ELD) seemed all-consuming for the freight transportation industry throughout 2017 and early 2018. The deadline came and went, causing some disruption and short-term rate increases until most fleets adapted to the changes last year. Today, another ELD deadline approaches, but it’s not well publicized. And this one could cause a major strain on capacity.

ELD Elephant in the Room

The new ELD deadline affects users of Automatic On-Board Recording Devices, or AOBRDS, which were grandfathered under the first two years of the mandate. AOBRDS are typically cell phone apps that do not integrate with truck operating systems. By December 16, 2019, commercial trucks using these devices must upgrade to fully compliant ELD devices at an estimated cost of $1,100 per truck. Analysts predict that more than 50 percent of Class 8 trucks fall into the group that still needs to replace or upgrade their systems (Logistics Management).

History tells a tale of caution. After the ELD soft deadline passed in 2017, late ELD adopters scrambled to comply with the mandate, but many suppliers ran out of devices. Some software programs suffered from glitches as too many users overloaded the systems (FreightWaves). In addition to frustration and delays, these issues kept trucks off the roads at a time when freight capacity was already tight due to the driver shortage, hours-of-service requirements, and other concerns.

ELD Calamity Waiting to Happen

While the next deadline hasn’t made many headlines, the shipping industry shouldn’t ignore it.

It’s true that the capacity crunch caused by late adopters did not last long after the last deadline, but the industry had ample information and lead time. Knowledge, anticipation, and planning tempered the problem, even if parties waited too long to act. Some compare the first ELD mandate deadline to the Y2K computing crisis that never materialized in 2000 because the world was so prepared: “Calamity well anticipated seldom is, but calamity not anticipated can be a disaster” (DAT).

The coming ELD deadline for AOBRD users may be the calamity not anticipated. If few people are talking about the deadline, it’s possible that many don’t know it exists.

To avoid or mitigate a capacity crisis this December,

  • Plan. Carriers must put a plan in place to address next steps for their grandfathered fleets.
  • Train. Carriers should begin training to minimize the learning curve for reluctant ELD users.
  • Investigate. Shippers need to understand in detail what carrier network compliance looks like.
  • Align. Shippers should align with carriers who can demonstrate full compliance by the deadline.

Stay Informed with Capstone

Whether you sailed through last year’s ELD deadline without issue or you’re just learning about the quietly approaching AOBRD deadline, it’s important to recognize the elephant in the room. Capstone helps you stay informed and ready for what’s next by uncovering the latest industry happenings.