At Blue Ink Tech we talk to thousands of carriers and drivers about their needs to help run a better business. One situation that comes up frequently in discussions is the use of ELD apps for their logbooks without a connected device to retrieve data from the vehicle.
One of the main requirements of the FMCSA's ELD mandate is that the app must get certain data from the vehicle's engine. These required data items are VIN, wheel speed, RPM, odometer, and engine hours. Retrieving these items requires a device to be connected to the truck's Engine Control Unit (ECU). These connections can send the required data items to an ELD app using a bluetooth connection. The connection can be hardwired in to the truck ECU or a device can be plugged into the truck's diagnostic port.
The odometer is collected by ELDs to serve as an indicator on whether or not an ELD has been tampered with during a work day. Some ELDs have the ability to be unplugged which will disable some of the automated features such as putting a driver on the drive line when they drive over 5 mph. By collecting odometer readings periodically, large gaps in odometer readings will indicate possible tampering and lead to large fines.
Engine hours are collected for the same purpose as the odometer. Large gaps in engine hour readings can alert DOT officials of possible tampering of the ELD. Engine hours also help drivers with notating malfunctions from a device. For example, a driver with a logbook entry containing a odometer that is 10,000 miles lower than the previous entry but an engine hour reading in line with the last entry can help the driver and DOT identify the malfunction and alert the manufacturer of corrective action or replacement devices.
The wheel speed is an important item to collect that automatically records driving events when the truck goes over 5 mph. Driving events can be "Personal Conveyance", "Yard Move" or "On-Duty Driving". Most automatically recorded driving events cannot be edited to statuses that are not driving because users cannot say that a vehicle was not in motion when it was recorded as moving. This helps ensure that all drivers keep inside of their 11 hour driving windows.
The RPM is collected to let the ELD system know that the truck is turned on or off. In situations where a driver may be mistakenly left on the drive line over a weekend but an entry of 0 RPMs is recorded then these events can be edited off of the drive line since a vehicle cannot move if the engine is not on. (New FMCSA technical specs). In a driver's logbook there will be events present that show when the truck was turned on and turned off.
The VIN is required to identify which truck or trucks a driver has been using for their work day. Some drivers may use multiple trucks throughout their day if they do local hauling. The VIN lets DOT officials know which odometer miles belong to which power unit. If VINs were not stored then the gaps in odometer readings in a drivers logbook could prompt the DOT official to think tampering could have occurred.
Without these 5 pieces of data in a driver's logbook the driver is not compliant with the FMCSA's ELD mandate and in risk of violations and hefty fines.