Almost all owner-operated and fleet vehicles have electronic logging devices installed this year, adhering to the HOS Mandate 2019. Any commercial vehicle which does not have an electronic logging device till the end of this year will be facing serious consequences. Apart from that, an ELD device is a hassle-free solution as compared to your paper logs. However, with the plethora of brands emerging with the technology, which one to go for? The Switchboard ELD might just be the choice for you.
Switchboard is a relatively new brand when it comes to electronic logging devices. Despite that, it comes at par with big ELD names such as Keep Truckin’ and Eroad ELD in terms of quality and features.
Simple enough for you, its a device that’s easy to use, and helps you comply with the newly formulated regulations. Specially designed for fleet owners, it’s an accessible and affordable option for owner-operators as well. Let’s dive into this review to give you all the details you need.
Switchboard ELD – The Company
As mentioned before, Switchboard is a newbie, small-scale, Canada-based company in the ELD market. That’s no reason for you to look it over while searching for the perfect ELD for yourself. Switchboard ELD has created the best solution after observing the drawbacks and undoings of the ELD companies preceding it.
Besides that, we’ve reviewed the Switchboard ELDs, and it shows that the company aims to make simpler, easier devices for truckers who concentrate on driving and staying safe. While most truckers feel weary of the recent mandate and prefer paper logs over tech-savvy ELDs, this one will surely change their minds.
Furthermore, the company has made its device affordable. This means you can use the app, the web portal, and the device combined with all its features at a market competitive price. Summing it all up, this company is promising enough for any fleet owner to give it a try.
Let’s have a look at some of its salient features so you can judge for yourself.
First things first, you’ll need to look at the compliance before buying an ELD system. The HOS Mandate requires each commercial vehicle to record their hours of service, statuses, and exemption points virtually for clear representation during inspections. These regulations are given out by the FMCSA, which also evaluates ELDs at how effective they are at maintaining clear and accurate logs.
Similarly, your electronic logging device will also need to cater to regular IFTA reporting. The IFTA, or the International Fuel Tax Agreement compliance means your ELD keeps precise fuel track records to maintain your tax reports.
Needless to say, the Switchboard ELD has all the inbuilt features, options, and programs to keep your fleet fully compliant with mandatory regulations. It is certified by the FMCSA itself, so you can be worry free about getting in trouble with the officials during an investigation. This not only saves you from getting fined now and then but keeps your fleet running flawlessly as well.
Apart from that, the Switchboard ELD is a Canadian company. However, it does not only comply with the regulations mandated in Canada but is compliant with the regulations in the US as well.
Now that you know about the brand’s compliance, here’s an overview of its device functionality and accessibility.
Devices And Compatibility
The Switchboard ELD gives you clear options to choose from according to your budget and needs.
Switchboard ELD Dedicated Tablet
Firstly, if you want to equip your fleet with dedicated electronic logging gadgets, then you can go for the high tech tablets provided by the brand. These tablets work flawlessly at displaying the Switchboard ELD App and have a user-friendly interface. This means your drivers will become pros at recording their daily logs and presenting them during inspections in no time.
ELD Operation On Personal Devices
Secondly, you can choose to go with the driver app only. While some brands include their own devices as a mandatory purchase in their ELD packages, the Switchboard ELD brand is flexible to your needs. If you are sure that all of your fleet drivers have a fully functional device, or you’re an owner-operator who wants to cut on expenses, you don’t have to buy the ELD tablet.
Instead, you can purchase the highly compatible app which you can run on almost any Android tablets or phones. You can connect your phone through Bluetooth to the vehicle engine module and watch your phone record your driving details through the app.
However, to maintain a certain amount of uniformity, and avoid mishaps due to inconsistency, it is recommended that fleet owners buy the Switchboard ELD devices. This way, you’ll be at lesser risk of any vehicle going missing, and you’ll be able to deal with accidents and driver misbehavior immediately. This won’t be possible if all vehicle drivers have different devices.
Secure Bluetooth Connection
Besides that, the Bluetooth connection on the Switchboard ELD works impeccably. If you’ve used an incompetent ELD before, you may already know the pain of reconnecting the device constantly to make sure it’s recording everything as it should.
With the Switchboard ELD, that’s not the case. Once you’ve connected the device to your vehicle module through Bluetooth, the connection remains secure. You don’t have to keep checking if your device is keeping a record of your logs. This keeps your drivers at ease and helps you locate your vehicles with their status, any minute.
App Interface Features
As we discussed above, the device you operate your Switchboard ELD software on doesn’t matter. That’s because the app has a great interface design to help you maintain your logs on any device. Apart from the basic logging functions, the app interface has many other useful features that come in handy while you’re running a fleet or your vehicle.
The best and most notable aspect of the app is that it is easy to understand. As ELDs are mostly used by truckers and drivers who aren’t tech-savvy as other people, choosing an app like this for your fleet is a great option.
The design is highly intuitive. The app itself will explain step by step what the driver has to do in order, to begin with, the logging process. Also, the most important parts are located in visible parts of the screen. Therefore, you can access them easily and start working in no time.
Drivers have to maintain a 60-70 hour cycle each day. If you’re an owner-operator and have been switching from status to status in the past week, you likely have no idea how many hours of service you’ve gone through, or how many you need to put in to complete your required cycle.
With the Switchboard ELD, that’s not a problem. At the touch of a button, you can revise your complete weekly logs. The app shows these details like a summary on your screen so you can stay well informed about your hours of service, and make amendments if required as well.
The Switchboard ELD app is specially designed to help the users in every way. That’s why you’ll notice many features which make driving and logging easier for the drivers.
For instance, drivers can comment on their statuses while changing them. These comments will be displayed at the main office. This way, a driver can keep everyone informed about the reason for the change in status if it’s out of the norm.
Similarly, there’s an option for drivers to switch to personal conveyance mode. Most fleet drivers seldom use their vehicles for personal trips, but if you’re an owner-operator, these trips might end up on your logs. Switching to personal conveyance gives you an accurate representation of your time, especially during inspections.
There’ll be times when you need to edit your logs. If the data is not presented clearly, this job might become tedious for you. The Switchboard ELD app shows your hours as a visible red grid line. This way, you can see the changes you are making in realtime.
Let’s face it, police officers can be overly inquisitive sometimes. To deal with such situations, this app has a special DOT mode. You can switch to the mode during inspections, and the app will only show what the investigator needs to see. This will protect your personal information and fleet details which you wouldn’t like to disclose publicly.
Furthermore, the app has a chat-style messaging system. The driver doesn’t have to operate multiple devices and can connect with the back office, dispatchers, or the destination through the ELD itself.
Pre and Post-Trip DVIRs
Before beginning the day, the driver needs to give in some details about his personal and vehicle conditions. This is known as the pre-trip investigation, while the post-trip goes vice versa. Saving your time, your fleet drivers can complete these inspections on the app itself, and get going.
Fleet Management Features
If you’ve been through its app features, you must be convinced about buying the Switchboard ELD. If you’re still in doubt, here’s a detailed description of its fleet management features.
- Switchboard Web Portal
For a fleet owner pr manager, the Switchboard ELD provides an easy to use web portal, to help you keep up with the multitude of data at hand. You can easily correct, track, and view your drivers’ logs from the backend.
Similarly, the edits you make to driver logs will be presented to your in realtime by a visible red line. This helps you make out your changes and easily identify any mistakes.
- Managing Log Edits
Furthermore, from the management backend, you can control the edits you’ve proposed to your drivers as well. This is a unique feature which you’re unlikely to find in any other ELD portal. You can see all the proposed logs edits, and additionally, you can view if your proposals have been rejected, viewed, or accepted.
This helps you keep track of your drivers, and maintain uniformity in your driver logs on the whole.
- Driver Monitoring
With a whole team of drivers at hand, management can get difficult. Through the Switchboard ELD device, you can monitor your drivers’ activities. Most importantly, the web portal alerts you when any unidentified activity is detected.
In such situations, you can switch from one driver to another. You can use the proposed edit system mentioned earlier, to inform your divers of the changes to keep the fleet moving without disturbance.
- GPS Tracking
You can locate any driver you need to, through the GPS tracking feature. You can view the whereabouts of your desired vehicles in real-time, and observe their movements as well.
Besides that, you can trace the routes of your vehicles if you’re suspicious at some points. This will help you regulate whether your employees are effectively using their work hours for you, or simply if they’re where they should be at that time.
- Fuel Reports
Fuel reports are essential to maintain for the International Fuel Tax Agreement returns. The fuel tracking system on this management portal is amazing. You can see the individual fuel breakdown for each of your trucks easily. As the IFTA regulations vary from state to state, keeping a proper track on it is tricky.
Also, you can trace the exact route of travel, along with the jurisdictions your driver passed through. You can upload fuel purchase transactions as well. This means when it’s time to turn in an IFTA report, you’ll be ready with the exact miles traveled and the fuel gallons used.
As compared to other ELD brand from its league, the Switchboard ELD has a reasonable price range. The pricing is flexible enough to facilitate all sorts of budgets and fleet sizes.
Overall, the basic price for an ELD engine module which you can plug into your vehicle is $200 upfront. Additionally, if you want to purchase a dedicated tablet as well, you will have to pay $250 extra, upfront.
Moreover, you will have to pay for your data plan as well. If you’re operating the ELD system on your device, the price will vary according to your data plan. If you’re purchasing a tablet, the inbuilt data package costs $15 per month.
Lastly, the web portal requires a monthly payment as well. To access the management portal, you’ll have to pay $10 per month. This means your total expense with the tablet will be $450 upfront with a $25 monthly expense, which is quite affordable.
What Does It Lack?
No device is completely perfect. We’ve found a few bugs and minor operating errors in the Switchboard ELD system which should be discussed to provide an honest representation of the product.
The Switchboard ELD does not have some useful features which you will find in other well-known high-end ELD devices. These features include engine diagnostics, built-in navigation, speeding alerts, and document capture. Although a fleet can easily survive without these features, they do come in handy if you’re ELD device is equipped with them.
Similarly, reviews have reported some problems with the operation of existing features. These include the unidentified driving tools. They’re not always entirely accurate therefore need some improvement. Besides that, the log edit system can become confusing if used in a large fleet and needs to be improved as well.
Summing it all up, the Switchboard ELD is a fully equipped ELD solution for owner-operators and fleet owners alike. It is complete with useful tracking, documentation, reporting, and tracking features. Although the system needs to be refined a bit to work seamlessly, the software provides a sturdy platform for a fleet to work with. Also, the pricing compliments the whole package like a cherry on the top, so if you’re in search of a low-end, productive device, you should go for this one.