Best Electronic Logbook – Rating & Reviews by Fleet Master
The ELD mandate, as you know, requires you to replace your fleet’s paper logging system used to track their hours of operation with electronic devices (required to be registered with the FMCSA) that will automatically keep track of these statistics when plugging into a vehicles engine.
Since the introduction of ELDs into the commercial trucking industry, accidents have reduced significantly and employees are protected from fines they might have incurred from accidental, inaccurate paper logging.
Further, employers are less likely to coerce or push their employees to work more hours, exhausting them and putting their lives in danger. With the deadline quickly approaching, it’s time to get your fleet on board.
We’ve gone and sorted through dozens upon dozens of electronic logging devices to pick out the top six we believe will not only best benefit your business, but make the transition from paper to electronic smooth and effortless.
|Device Name||Best Feature||Up Front |
|EROAD Ehubo||Highly accurate tracking||$0||$35|
|Omnitracs IVG||Voice command||$799||$30|
|Coretex 360||Driver management||-||-|
|ELD Chrome||Two-Way Messaging||$499||$25|
Our First Choice: KeepTruckin ELD
KeepTruckin provides a slick, modern, user-friendly app for drivers to record their logs. When paired with the KeepTruckin ELD device and connected to the vehicle, it becomes one of the easiest and most affordable ELDs on the market. The app is free for download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store (where it receives very good user reviews). To make it into a compliant ELD all you need is the device that plugs into your vehicle’s diagnostic port.
There’s no up front cost for the device, you simply pay KeepTruckin a monthly service fee, which includes the hardware. The basic service plan is $20/month and includes logs, DVIR, messaging, and some basic fleet management tools. Adding IFTA reporting and some “coming-soon” advanced features brings the cost up to $30/month, but not all fleets will find this necessary.
If you plan to provide a phone or tablet to your drivers, then you should also budget around $15/mo for a cellular data plan. So you you’re looking at $35 or less per month, with no up front costs other than maybe mounting hardware for the display. That is one of the more affordable price tags you’ll find in the industry right now.
The KeepTruckin app itself is a pleasure to use. It’s very simple and intuitive, and has some convenient features that many other systems have missed. For example, there is a simple view of all “recap” hours that will be gained over the next 7 days. It also has the easiest method for driver log editing of any system we’ve seen.
There is a convenient “DOT Inspection Mode” for showing log history to enforcement officers, and logs can be emailed or faxed right from the app. Other standard features like DVIR and two-way messaging are also available. While there is no built in navigation, a 3rd party app could be run alongside KeepTruckin for this purpose. Drivers can also take photos of paperwork, accident damage, or anything else and send in the images through the app.
KeepTruckin has also set itself apart by being one of the first to actually achieve complete compliance with the ELD Mandate. Most other devices reviewed on this site are technically still only AOBRDs until they update their software to fully meet the new ELD standards. While all the major vendors will certainly reach full compliance before the mandate’s due date, it is worth noting that KeepTruckin is already at that point.
Some of the other self-certified devices on the FMCSA’s list are of dubious quality and compliance, but KeepTruckin seems to have designed their system from the beginning to meet mandate requirements. In short, KeepTruckin is a very attractive option, especially for fleets looking for low cost and an easy install. The system is simple to use for drivers and office staff, and the list of advanced features is a step above most of the competition.
Our Second Choice: EROAD Ehubo
EROAD’s Ehubo is one of the most all around high-quality devices on the market right now. The hardware is sturdy and reliable, the software is easy to use, and the information it captures is highly accurate. While it is affordably priced, there are cheaper systems out there. And while it has lots of nice extra features, there are systems out there with more bells and whistles. But for a simple, dependable, user-friendly ELD, EROAD is very tough to beat.
One of the big ways EROAD sets themselves apart is their commitment to being 100% ELD mandate compliant. Any vendor can self-certify and be added to the FMCSA’s list, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the system is truly up to code. To provide their customers with more assurance, EROAD submitted their device for independent verification by PIT Group – a transportation technology testing firm.
PIT Group put the EROAD system through a rigorously extensive testing process with real trucks and real drivers, to ensure that the product is fully compliant with every line of the ELD mandate. To our knowledge, EROAD is the only device to have gone through this kind of independent testing. Choosing to be verified by a third party shows a lot of confidence in the product, and it gives customers peace of mind to knowing their ELD investment will pass FMCSA muster.
The Ehubo itself is a dedicated all-in-one device with a single cable that plugs into the vehicle’s diagnostic port. At only 4.5 inches, the screen is a fair bit smaller than most, but the user interface is so well designed that you hardly notice. Buttons are large and text is very readable. The small keyboard may make typing a little difficult for larger fingers, but there is very minimal typing required. In addition to the normal ECM connection, the Ehubo can also be used in older vehicles that don’t have an ECM. Using a 3-wire install and alternate data capture methods, the device is one of the few on the market that can still record information at the level of accuracy required by the ELD mandate. This allows fleets with older trucks to put all their vehicles on one system if desired.
The back office system, called Depot, is also very easy use. There are good tools in place for making suggested log edits and assigning unidentified driving time. EROAD was originally a distance tracker for fuel tax purposes, so the system sports the best IFTA reporting tools in the business. For many carriers, the savings from accurately claiming exempt fuel tax miles alone may be enough to pay for the cost of the system. Dispatchers can send chat messages back and forth with drivers. Flexible geofences can be set up to monitor activity at important locations such as customer shipping yards. The system can track and schedule regular vehicle maintenance. And there is a very nice dashboard tool which shows all kinds of safety events like speeding, harsh braking, etc. EROAD’s recently released “Inspect” system allows drivers to complete DVIRs and helps drivers and maintenance staff smoothly track any reported defects through the entire repair process. With all of these extra tools, the exact features you get will depend somewhat on the pricing package you choose, but there’s a lot to like no matter what your specific needs may be.
While the EROAD system does have a lot of great extra features, there are some that are still in progress. GPS navigation and engine diagnostics are in the works, but are not yet available. EROAD integrates with some big name TMS providers like McCleod and FourKites, and more integrations are underway. The system is already easy to use, but enhancements are being added to streamline daily activities for drivers and manager. So while there is some room for the product to grow, it seems that it will continue to do so.
Depending on the features you need, EROAD offers several different pricing plans. Prices start at $35/mo for a simple ELD-only plan and range up to $60/mo for the TotalFleet plan with all the available features. The mid-range TotalTax plan contains all but the most advanced fleet management tools and is $45/mo. There is a one-time activation fee of $35 and the ECM cable costs $65. There is no up front cost for the device itself if the customer chooses one of the lease plans mentioned above. However, customers who prefer to buy the hardware outright may do so, and thus pay a reduced monthly charge. All pricing plans include hardware warranty and tech support.
In summary, EROAD is a top notch ELD and it will only continue to become more appealing as additional features are added. Those looking for a durable all-in-one system with bullet-proof compliance, highly accurate tracking, and excellent fuel tax capabilities really can’t do much better. Add to that the affordable monthly pricing, sturdy hardware, and helpful support and it’s a top shelf option that anyone in the market should seriously consider.
Third Option: Blue Ink BIT ELD
Blue Ink Technology’s new BIT ELD is one of the very few devices on the market to adopt an unconventional pricing model: no ongoing monthly fees. You buy the device itself for $295, pay for it once, and that’s it. No contract or monthly costs. This is very appealing for independent drivers and small fleets hoping to avoid the ongoing service plans required by most electronic log vendors. The pay-once pricing makes BIT dramatically cheaper in the long run than nearly any other device on the market.
Like most BYOD options, you buy a dongle from Blue Ink that plugs straight into your truck’s diagnostic port, then Bluetooth pair it with your own smartphone or tablet (cellular data plan required). While many drivers already have their own device, if you are planning to provide one for your fleet there will be some extra cost involved for the device and a data plan (we typically estimate $10-15/mo).
BIT offers simple ELD mandate compliance, without a lot of extra frills. The free driver app can be downloaded for Android or iOS devices. Signing up for an account is quick and easy, and the app is simple to navigate. Drivers can make manual log status changes with just the app, but to turn the system into a true ELD you need the Bluetooth dongle to automatically record when the truck is moving. The app currently supports basic Hours of Service and a built in DVIR. Drivers can easily make edits to their own logs, or accept suggested corrections from fleet managers.
While fleets of any size may find BIT’s pricing and simplicity appealing, the product is geared first and foremost toward smaller fleets and owner operators. Larger fleets may find the system shy on extra telematics features for the time being. That said, new features are being added frequently. In addition to basic HoS logs and DVIRs, the device also tracks state miles for IFTA reporting and provides detailed GPS breadcrumb tracking. Blue Ink also recently released a feature that tracks vehicle maintenance, so fleet managers can set up reminders and alerts for oil changes, tire replacements, and other routine maintenance tasks. Other bells and whistles offered by more expensive products are in the works but not yet available. For example: engine diagnostics, two-way messaging, TMS integration, etc.
Overall the extremely low cost to own the BIT ELD makes it worth a look for anyone, but especially for smaller operations hoping to get compliant without breaking the bank. We expect to see a lot of improvements and new features coming to the product over the next few months, but even now it’s a simple, user friendly ELD at a nearly unbeatable price.
Fourth Choice: Omnitracs IVG
Omnitracs is the best known player in the ELD industry, and in early 2016 they announced the Intelligent Vehicle Gateway (IVG) as the future of their telematics product line.
The fact that Omnitracs seems to view IVG as their new flagship product is reason enough for most fleets to take a serious look, but they’ve also sweetened the deal with a quicker install, some innovative new features, and a more affordable price tag.
This is a much simpler and quicker install than the older MCP units, but you can still expect to spend 30 minutes or so. While it’s more time consuming than some of the truly plug-and-play options (like Rand McNally TND), you arguably get a more stable, tamper-resistant connection once it’s done. It’s a nice balance between ease and reliability.
All the standard features you’d expect from an industry leading ELD are available: logs, DVIR, messaging, navigation, engine diagnostics, etc. Users of the top shelf MCP models (110/200) will also recognize the more advanced capabilities that continue to be available with IVG such as in-cab scanning, tire pressure monitoring, dash cams, and so on.
In addition to familiar features, the IVG also brings some new innovations of its own. Drivers can link their own smart phone to the IVG via WiFi or Bluetooth, allowing them to perform certain tasks while away from the truck. A driver could send and receive dispatch messages, update trip progress, and even capture signatures or document images remotely from their phone. Soon the device will even function as a mobile WiFi hotspot, allowing drivers to connect their personal tablet or phone and get internet access through the IVG. The IVG also has a voice command system, somewhat like Apple’s Siri. A driver can simply say “Hello, Omnitracs”, and then speak a wide variety of basic commands to the system. They can do things like go to the home screen, adjust brightness settings, and check on remaining Hours of Service time. This gives drivers the helpful ability to access basic features without touching the device or taking their eyes off the road.
One of the stated goals of the IVG is to provide the advanced capabilities of the higher level MCP models at a lower price point. The up-front cost of the unit is $750-800. This is a little more than the MCP50 base unit, but cheaper than the upper level MCPs and with most of the same advanced features available. Monthly pricing on the IVG is also lower at around $30 for a basic plan. The lower monthly bill adds up over time, and creates a lower total cost than even the MCP50.
All around, the IVG seems to be a great new step in the already excellent line of Omnitracs products. It brings the features and reliability that make Omnitracs an industry leader, and adds new capabilities and an easier install, all for a lower overall price. IVG should be on the short list for any fleet looking for a full telematics solution that goes way beyond ELD basics.
Our Fifth Selection : ELD Chrome by Pedigree
Pedigree Technologies may not yet be a household name among ELDs, but they have quietly put together one of the most capable e-log and fleet management products on the market.
Their deep understanding of the mandate and of real-world hours of service challenges has led them to create some very useful log tools that we haven’t seen in any other device. While it may not be the simplest or the cheapest option on the market, Pedigree’s ELD Chrome solution and OneView platform offer features that you simply won’t find anywhere else. And once you have seen them, you may find them hard to do without.
The team at Pedigree Technologies has distinguished themselves with their commitment to fully understanding the ELD mandate and meeting all of its many requirements.
Every product developer in the company was required to read the entire 500 page mandate cover-to-cover. The result is a system that has some truly unique tools designed to handle some of the sticky situations caused by the new rules.
To name one prime example, ELD Chrome allows drivers to re-classify “Driving” time as “Personal Use” or “Yard Move” time, while still complying with all mandated restrictions. The mandate says that “Driving” time automatically recorded by the ELD cannot be changed. So if a driver accidentally leaves themselves logged in during a mechanic’s test drive, or during a personal run to the grocery store, there is nothing they can do to remove that accidental “Driving” time from their log. ELD Chrome abides by this rule, and does not remove any “Driving” time from the log.
However, the system does allow the driver to go back and make a note stating that the “Driving” time should have been classified as “Personal Use” or “Yard Move”. While this will not update the log grid (due to the mandate rules), it will update the driver’s “time remaining” clocks. For example, a driver who accidentally broke up their 34-hour restart with a 5 minute run to the grocery store will have the ability to annotate their log and update their HoS clocks to reflect the fact that the driving time should have been logged as “Personal Use”.
That way their time remaining will still reflect the 34-hour restart, even though they accidentally disrupted their “Off Duty” time. This may sound like a niche situation, but we suspect that drivers and carriers alike will find it surprisingly valuable for dealing with cases where legitimately exempt driving gets accidentally recorded onto a driver’s log. Pedigree’s OneView platform is also the only system we’ve seen so far that allows log information to be easily imported from other systems using the FMCSA standard log file format. This feature may come in very handy for mixed fleets using a combination of several different e-log systems.
More generally speaking, ELD Chrome’s tools for managing logs are easier than most. Drivers can tap on their grid to change existing log entries, or press and hold to add new status changes. When adding a past status change, the system automatically fills in the location and time to minimize tedious data entry. The carrier is given similar tools for making suggested edits from the back office interface. The grid style feels like a familiar paper log, complete with locations written vertically below the graph.
Another very distinctive feature is that when the driver is reviewing suggested edits made by the carrier, they are able to see the full impact of those changes. They can see how their log grid looks before and after, how their remaining hours will change as a result of the edit, and what violations will be added or removed. This takes a lot of the confusing guesswork out of making and approving log corrections. ELD Chrome also supports a wide range of HoS rule sets including US, Canadian, state-specific, and oilfield rules. When desired, the unit can automatically prompt the driver to change rule set when moving into a new jurisdiction.
In summary, ELD Chrome from Pedigree Technologies is one of the most full-featured and flexible ELDs on the market right now. They have some very clever HoS tools designed to make life easier for drivers and carriers. Those looking for a bare minimum ELD may find cheaper options, but fleets hoping to easily manage logs (and much more) will find these capabilities to be very valuable. The unique features plus Pedigree’s focus on full mandate compliance and customer support make them worth a serious look for anyone seeking advantages that go well beyond basic compliance.