I get asked this question, or some version of it, every single day: “Will I lose my IFTA business to ELDs?” “Have you lost any customers to ELDs?” “How can I keep my customers after they get an ELD?” “How do I get customers back?” The short answer to all these questions is that ELD’s make your IFTA business MORE important and relevant than ever.
BECAUSE ELD DATA ISN’T PERFECT!
There are three reasons why it’s imperfect, and likely to stay that way. The nature of GPS technology, the newness of the application, and the complexity (and necessity) of reviewing the data.
GPS, or Global Positioning Systems, are a bunch of satellites in orbit around the world, that were designed by the US Military to get missiles to their target with pin point accuracy. It’s a positioning system, not a tracking system. Even if it CAN track, it wasn’t invented to track. It was invented to target.
One further complication is that many (if not most) ELDs use cell phones, and cell towers, to get GPS coordinates – NOT satellites. Satellite time is expensive, and the monthly ELD payment doesn’t begin to cover the costs.
A trucks movement is tracked by pings, or lat/long coordinates. Those coordinates go through a process called “Reverse Geo Coding” to translate them into an actual location. Then something must tabulate the miles traveled between the pings, and to put those miles on a report that a person (instead of a computer) can read and that leads to the second problem…
As anyone who has ever worked with a programmer can tell you, there are always bugs in new tech. Resolving bugs as they are found is an ongoing process because as one is fixed another comes into view.
This new program is trying to (1) translate the pings, into (2) a route along a road, and (3) calculate the miles traveled along that road, THEN (4) list the total of miles traveled in each state on a single report. While the idea behind ELDs might not be new, this process is new, and it’s pretty complex.
If you just look at the end report, it probably looks pretty good, because the programmers do a pretty good job. But it isn’t perfect – and you have to take a deeper look at the process to know that… and that leads to the third problem.
The third problem is the complexity of double checking the data. A layperson isn’t likely to go through those 4 steps themselves to review the data. (I certainly wouldn’t know HOW to do that on my own.) Even if they did, how would they know what to look for? It takes time for a person to become an IFTA expert, and even for them, this new tech changes things. It isn’t just a question of did the driver report all the miles and gallons any more. It’s also a question of did the computers do their jobs correctly?
Here in our office, there’s a team of two people working together to review data before we bring it into our system. A computer programmer (who understands the tech) and an experienced IFTA preparer (who understands what the data is for). It takes two different kinds of expert to find and fix the problems in the data, and let me tell you there ARE problems…
Until enough people do that, and then report the problems back to the ELD, the bugs are NEVER going to get fixed. And how many people are taking the time to do that? How many ELDs care to fix those problems? They may never be fixed.
Your IFTA Business is More Important than Ever
So a technology is being used for a purpose it wasn’t designed for, in a way it wasn’t designed to be used, in conjunction with a new and complex process to count up miles, then create a report showing miles by state, and there are problems that are going to take a long time to get fixed.
Clients wanting to go elsewhere? Or think the ELD data is perfect? They had better think again….
Your expertise will keep clients audit safe and on time for deadlines.
Written by Casey Bullard