Benefits of Electronic Logbooks (Part 2): For Managers

Electronic logbooks empower fleet managers to increase efficiency and productivity through automated data collection and real-time access to that data. This improved connection between fleet managers, drivers, and vehicles enables the team to plan optimal routes, easily keep track of Hours of Service (HoS) for each driver, and take corrective action to improve productivity.

Here are some of the compelling benefits that electronic logbooks provide to fleet managers:

1. Efficiently Manage Your Driver Pool

Paper-based logbooks make it difficult to manage your driver pool. Because managers don’t have real-time access to each driver’s HoS records, they don’t know which drivers already have HoS violations, are reaching their HoS limit, or have hours to spare. Without electronic access to this information, each driver must be contacted to determine their availability. This wastes time and slows down day-to-day operational decisions.

With an electronic logbook system in place, managers, dispatchers, and load planners can look at the system’s dashboard and easily determine which drivers are rested, which drivers need to be rested, and which drivers are available for trips. The likelihood of compliance violations is decreased, the possibility of accidents caused by fatigue is reduced, and a wide range of administrative burdens are eliminated.

2. Easy Access to Accurate Current and Historical Data

According to some reports, managers can’t locate up to 30% of paper logbook records. When they can find the paper logbooks, the data is frequently inaccurate. This unreliable documentation heightens the risk of compliance violations and unsafe driving.

The situation is starkly different with an electronic logging solution in place. Through an easy-to-use, web-based back-end management portal, managers have immediate access to all records. Moreover, because the electronic logbook system captures data automatically, managers can count on the records being accurate and up-to-date.

3. Simplify Your Reporting

When using a paper-based workflow, it often takes anywhere from 60 to 90 days to produce meaningful management reports. Because electronic logbooks capture and organize data automatically, managers can always produce accurate HoS reports whenever they are required for management purposes, inspections, or audits.

4. Create More Opportunities to Take Corrective Action

Because of the time and effort it takes to produce reports using a paper-based workflow, managers often have to wait months before they have enough information to sit down with drivers and determine whether or not they have been in compliance with HoS regulations and company rules.

By then, the driver has forgotten what happened two to three months ago. This makes taking corrective action virtually impossible. Electronic logbooks, on the other hand, support corrective action by giving managers instant access to the information they need.

5. Boost Administrative Productivity

Paper logbooks demand far more administrative time than is necessary in today’s technology-driven economy. Managers must distribute paper logs, have drivers fill out the forms, collect the documents, scrutinize them for completeness and accuracy, sort out clerical errors, and troubleshoot any issues that emerge during the process. The workflow is labor intensive and inefficient.  

Electronic logbooks provide real-time information that enables organizations to complete more of these administrative tasks faster and with fewer people. This leads to a tremendous boost in productivity. In fact, FMCSA found that administrative personnel may save up to 20 minutes per driver per month.

6. Reduce Overall Costs

By transitioning from paper-based logbooks to electronic logbooks and related hardware, anecdotal reports suggest that some companies can experience as much as a 30% reduction in overall costs. According to the 2014 study conducted by FMCSA, a number of large carriers reported benefits that far outweighed the costs associated with switching to an electronic logbook system. The new system typically paid for itself within the first two years.

7. Maintain Your Company’s Good Reputation

Having the ability to efficiently track HoS helps your company maintain its safety scores. Remember that the FMCSA publishes your safety score profile for anyone to see. A bad score can cause your company to attract higher levels of regulatory intervention, tarnish your reputation, and cause you to lose valuable business opportunities. The worst case scenario is that your operating authority can be revoked.