ELD selection should not be taken lightly according totrucking experts who say that beyond setting high expectations in the C-Suite, carriers should avoid obsessing over cost and turn to additionalstakeholders who can better ensure the best pick for the price.
When former trucking consultant Louis Giardelli, who now leads informationtechnology at Veltri Trucking, was shopping for ELDs he saw a red flag when a provider madecost an issue.
“I think one of the things that turned us off on one ofthe providers towards the end was cost,” Giardelli said during a recent TCA webinarhosted by ELD provider ISAAC Instruments. “It was, ‘What number can I give youto make this happen?’ And that was probably the worst thing someone could havesaid to us. Not that cost didn't matter. It did matter. The cost needed to becompetitive but I didn't want somebody to sell their soul for our business.”
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Giardelli also said it was important to raise companyexpectations at Veltri, a roughly 150-truck regional hauler in Washington,Penn. Since routes are under 150 air miles, hours-of-service requirements aren’tthe driving concern. However, electronic data interchange (EDI) is an importantfactor that if not functioning properly can lead to a lot of headaches and lostefficiency, as was the case when Veltri tried using consumer grade tablets withan ELD app.
“I found that the technology that we had in place was completelyunreliable,” said Giardelli who added that prior to his arrival at the 74-year-oldcompany a decision had been made to focus more on an ELD solution that was “lessexpensive to get the job done based on what a lot of companies were doing.”
That decision to run with the pack and buy a cheaper solutionhas led to troubling inefficiency.
“It's a battle fo the back office people to finish up whatshould have been done by the unit and the driver,” Giardelli said. “And it'sjust a plethora of issues. Sometimes the trips don't get there. Sometimes thebattery’s dead. Sometimes it's out of a geographical location and it can'tfigure out where it is.”
To help determine how the carrier could improve EDI andthus its bottom line, Giardelli turned from anecdotal evidence and leaned ondata to get a better sense of performance. Since hours-of-service don’t applyat Veltri, the word ‘compliance’ means obtaining operational excellence andGiardelli didn’t like what he saw.
“We started gathering and measuring the information,” Giardellisaid. “We said that our compliance level is 74% peak and some people were veryhappy with 74% of compliance, meaning that the driver was able to get an order, completeit and the customer was updated. I was like, ‘That's unacceptable. I don't knowwhere that would ever be acceptable.’”
Huddle up and ask the hard questionsNow realizing that it was a time for a change, Veltribegan searching for another ELD provider. This time with Giardelli on board theirlatest search would be less focused on cost and more on improving performance.
ISAAC Instruments technical solutions specialist TrentGilles recalled their resolve.
“That's one thing I really enjoyed seeing with Veltri wasthat they weren't afraid to ask the hard questions because they've felt thepain in the past and they've learned from it and they know what they want fortheir future solution,” said ISAAC Instruments technical solutions specialistTrent Gilles.
Veltri’s more thorough search included seeking outreferences that had recently signed up for an ELD. Gilles applauded that approach.
“The other piece of it is what happens after the contractfrom a maintenance and ongoing maintenance and support perspective, talking toexperienced references to say, ‘Okay, now that the honeymoon phase is over,what does that look like in terms of our relationship with our partner versus avendor?” Gilles said.
Getting more stakeholders involved in the selectionprocess is also a wise move, Gilles said.
“One piece that I think a lot of people kind of forgetabout is it's always about the technology, but it's also about the execution,which means you have to look at the people who are going to make it happen,”Gilles said.
Whereas a steering committee in the past may have had fiveor so decision-makers, that kind of approach doesn’t bode as well as technologyexpands and businesses become more competitive in recruiting and retaining talentduring a labor shortage.
“Today [steering committees] have somewhere between sixand 11 members,” Gilles said. “Avoid blind spots by bringing in key stakeholdersacross the departments and that includes drivers too because the one thingyou'll understand from the pain perspective is some of the pain is usually feltby the end users.
“The pain, the frustration and the challenges that thecompany is facing is felt by them first,” Gilles continued. “Include your driverleads and your driver managers in the selection criteria so you can get theright fit—and the fit being the right solution, not the cheapest solution. It'sgot to be able to extend your business, not curtail your business.”