Complying with the electronic logging device mandate has been a big change for trucking fleets, one that many are still struggling with even now, nearly a year since the new rule began to take effect.
C&J Energy Services recently completed a successful transition to ELD-compliant devices. The Houston-based company is a provider of onshore well construction, well completions, well support, and other complementary oilfield services to oil and gas exploration and production companies.
Ben Sigmund, director of Operational Logistics at C&J Energy, who led the effort, says the team learned several key lessons along the way. Whether you’re evaluating ELDs for the first time or looking to change up your existing tools, you may gain much from learning about their experiences. According to Sigmund, the C&J Energy found all of these elements to be critical to their success:
Securing Stakeholder Buy-In Before, During, and Beyond Rollout
Sigmund says that this is perhaps the most crucial step if you’re to find success in the implementation of ELD within your organization.
Building a Sense of Ownership among Stakeholders. “We started with why we were implementing ELDs – and it went well beyond the compliance requirement,” he says. The team formed to implement ELDs at C&J Energy Services was driven by a clear purpose: “We live to help others be the best version of themselves” – which inspired every single decision that the team made. “At the end of day, we’re just trying to make drivers safer and more self-conscious; managers better informed decision makers, and operational support staff more effective,” says Sigmund.
Once stakeholders at all levels understood why C&J Energy was implementing ELDs, the team widened the scope of value that could be leveraged from the investment. Sigmund says, “We introduced asset tracking, driver scorecards, and asset utilization measurements – none of which were required by the ELD mandate, but all of which provided extremely valuable information to the organization at no additional cost. That’s the moment when folks began to buy-in, not because they had to, but because they wanted to.”
Key Evaluation Criteria to Consider
Before C&J Energy started evaluating suppliers, the team crafted a list of must-have features and capabilities. ELD compliance was a given, of course, but there were some other key considerations according to Sigmund:
Connectivity. Cellular is common, but C&J’s needs went beyond that. The company has 5,500+ vehicles spread across the country, often in areas where connectivity is sparse for certain cellular carriers. As a result, its ELD supplier had to offer the ability to leverage the network coverage areas of multiple cellular carriers. C&J Energy also required the ability to communicate in real-time with dispatched assets and to maintain accurate electronic logbooks. “To address the needs of real-time dispatched assets, we had to ensure that our supplier offered a satellite capability – and to address the accuracy of our e-logs, we had to find a supplier that offered a cost-effective method of allowing drivers to slip-seat and correct their logbooks, all while operating outside areas of cellular coverage,” explains Sigmund.
Ping Frequency. The frequency of the incremental breadcrumbs – or pings -- was very important to C&J Energy. Fleets in all industries are likely to be familiar with regulatory agencies such as IRP, IFTA and DOT, but it’s important to remember that if you intend to use the trip data collected by your ELDs for purposes related to reporting to these entities, you must satisfy their individual requirements as they relate to ping frequency. “Several of the suppliers that we evaluated met the ping frequency requirements for a certified ELD, but not all of them met the requirements of other regulatory agencies,” says Sigmund. Ping frequency is also extremely useful in accident reconstruction and incident investigations. He advises, “Check the requirements of the regulatory agencies that are applicable to your company, and look for other opportunities to leverage the data that you’re collecting through your ELDs.”
Ease of Integration. Master data management is the key to sound data integrity and painless system integrations in the future. “Your asset master likely resides in your company’s ERP system – but regardless of where it sits, make it a priority to understand the hierarchy of that data before evaluating ELD solutions,” says Sigmund. “We looked for an ELD supplier that provided us the flexibility to mirror our existing organizational structure with a minimal amount of custom development, which can be costly, risk prone and time consuming. Look for suppliers who already have experience integrating with your IT systems – proven and existing APIs are even better.”
Intuitive User Interface and Workflow. C&J Energy looked at this from all perspectives – drivers, supervisors, managers and admins. Did the user interface make sense in the context of each role? Did it provide drivers with the same experience whether they were in a vehicle, in front of a driver kiosk, or on the web portal? “Things like that were important to us, as ease of use translates to a better experience, and frankly, a quicker turnaround time on system adoption," Sigmund says. "Change management can be taxing on an organization, so let your drivers and admins test drive the system before you commit to buying – they’re the lifeblood of your organization and any successful ELD implementation.”
The BYOD Model. If you’re considering the BYOD (bring your own device) approach, be sure you understand the full scope of suppliers that you’ll be managing. “We found it difficult to manage the chain of accountability – tablet manufacturer, cellular provider, ELD provider, installer, etc. – and we were concerned about introducing gaps in the standardization of the technology that we use in the field,” Sigmund explains. “With so many moving parts across a widespread area of operation, we felt a BYOD approach would be too inefficient to support and maintain – and under the ELD mandate, there is little room for that."
He says that “in the end, we went with Mix Telematics, the supplier that best met our criteria and had a strong reputation for ongoing customer support.”
Implementation and User Adoption
There were two factors that became critically important during the implementation of ELDs at C&J Energy Services:
Training. The ELD team showed up and shook hands, training C&J Energy’s drivers in person. According to Sigmund, this proved far more effective for drivers than web-based presentations and conference calls. Web-based presentations did work well for managers and admins, but Sigmund’s team followed that up with onsite training for them too. The company also set up a SharePoint site where they hosted all the training and support materials that users needed – from step-by-step videos and presentations to printable cab cards and customer support information.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). “Early on, we began focusing on two specific KPIs – truck communication frequency and unassigned mileage,” says Sigmund. “Both of those metrics have proven to be highly effective tools that we’ve used throughout the implementation and system adoption phases.”
Outcomes of ELD Implementation at C&J Energy Services:
- C&J Energy began its ELD rollout in mid-2017 and has 5,500+ vehicles installed. Sigmund says, “We decided to equip all our vehicles, including light-duties that are not subject to the ELD mandate.”
- The team implemented the capability to operate outside of cellular coverage using follow-me eLogs on a key fob.
- They use the time clock feature to maintain electronic logbooks of drivers who work, but who don’t drive every day.
- The ELD team now provides weekly and monthly insights to C&J Energy management and operational support teams, in the field as well as in the corporate office.
- The company has seen measurable improvements in driver behavior and their ability to manage it. “Our managers are becoming adept at reading the Red/Yellow/Green (RAG) reports on driver safety and using the data to train drivers,” says Sigmund.
- C&J Energy is enjoying the scalability of additional features and integrations – from non-powered asset trackers to maintenance system interfaces.
- And the company leverages all of those features in its ELD system while continuing to operate within the boundaries of its normal organizational structure. “The system hierarchy matches the reality of how our company is organized, so it allows new users to quickly get their bearings,” says Sigmund.
“Overall," Sigmund says, "C&J Energy Services has taken a costly regulation and turned it into a value proposition that is making us all a better version of ourselves."
Amy McVay is director of Client Services for Mix Telematics, a global provider of fleet and mobile asset management solutions. This article was authored under the guidance and editorial standards of HDT’s editors to provide useful information to our readers.