PIT researcher talks EOBR standard at PMTC conference

Sonia Straface

KING CITY, Ont. – The wheels are finally rolling on Canada’s EOBR mandate.

Adime Kofi Bonsi a researcher for FPInnovations’s Performance Innovation Transport – a company that tests and analyzes third-party technologies and has worked with over 50 fleets ­– spoke at the PMTC annual conference all about the proposed EOBR standard.

He began by explaining how PIT worked and came to produce the standard that would require all trucks in Canada to have an on-board system.

“The purpose here was to evaluate EOBRs based on performance specifications,” he began. “We evaluated three EOBR systems and first, we exposed all those involved – drivers, carriers, roadside inspectors and company auditors to these technologies that were going to be evaluated. Then, we reviewed the technical functions to see if they met driver and carrier obligations and this allowed us to establish a portrait of the capabilities and limitations. Finally to fill the holes in the information that we had, we carried out a survey to all those who participated to find out what their opinions and feedback was.”

Many fleets already have EOBRs on a voluntary basis to assist with HoS compliance. In Europe, EOBRs are mandated and currently the US is moving quickly towards an official standard as well.

When developing the Canadian standard, Bonsi said there were a few guidelines that were always kept in mind. The standard was to be applied throughout Canada and be it was to be harmonized with the US standard since so many trucks cross the border.

“The standard is not a direct mirror of the US standards but it does take into account provisions in the US standard,” he said.

During the initial testing of the EOBRs at PIT, Bonsi said there was cause for concern since hours-of-service data couldn’t be accessed from outside the cab. Since then this issue has been solved with the use of smartphones and tablets. By connecting their handheld devices and entering “inspector log mode,” Bonsi said officers can inspect drivers logs for the last 14 days.

As well, a carrier can access these logs in real-time to track their drivers and ensure they are not going over their hours.

But EOBRs aren’t solely babysitting monitors for a transport company’s drivers.

“EOBRs actually have benefits beyond compliance,” said Bonsi. “They can actually help you improve operational efficiency and reduce your costs. The biggest benefit is that you’re able to get the most out of your drivers because the logs are produced automatically. They don’t have to take time to fill out logs personally at the end of the day. You don’t have to chase them down so they provide their logs. So dispatchers are able to improve operational processes.”

In turn, because you’re checking your compliance on a rolling basis, infractions and fines are reduced, Bonsi added.

With real-time feedback using the EOBRs to monitor driver performance, researchers at PIT found a 10-15% fuel consumption reduction. Without the real-time feedback, that percentage decreased because the drivers fell back into old habits.

EOBRs can also detect problems with the vehicle before catastrophe hits and puts a truck out of service – saving transport companies anywhere from thousands to tens of thousands in repairs.

For those who are on the fence about implementing EOBRs in their fleets, Bonsi offered up a concise list of general benefits to getting them:

  • They reduce operation costs
  • The reduce administrative costs
  • They reduce infractions
  • They reduce management costs

There is still no official time frame for implementation though Bonsi said he heard the US regulations would be put in place January 2015 – with Canada almost always in tow, EOBRs could be coming to a truck near you soon.

Sonia Straface

Sonia Straface is the associate editor of Truck News and Truck West magazines. She graduated from Ryerson University's journalism program in 2013 and enjoys writing about health and wellness and HR issues surrounding the transportation industry. Follow her on Twitter: @SoniaStraface.

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