Welcome to our Monday Minute Interview Series
In this series, Christopher Candy, VP, Business Development at Mobilizz sits down with the people and businesses of the Telematics industry. This week we caught up with:
Ian Wells has worked at FortisAlberta for eight years, most recently as Fleet Supervisor responsible for maintenance on 400 piece of equipment. Ian works closely on their apprenticeship school training and building programs on Alberta transportation regulations and the NSC.
FortisAlberta is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fortis Inc. They deliver safe and reliable electricity service to more than 60 per cent of Alberta’s total electricity distribution network. That’s electricity to more than half a million residential, farm and business customers. They operate in 240 communities with more than 124,000 kilometres of power lines. FortisAlberta and a Mobilizz customer.
Who is Fortis and what does your fleet makeup look like?
FortisAlberta provide electrical distribution in Alberta, mostly in rural areas across the entire province. We have several types of vehicles in our fleet: our heaviest are primarily International 7500’s, we do have some smaller Internationals with medium sized bucket trucks, F550’s with small aerial devices, and down to light duty pickups and small SUV’s.
How many trucks and drivers do you have using ELD? And how long have you been using it?
About a third of our 900 drivers are currently using ELD. We wanted to be proactive and make sure our drivers were experts before the mandate takes effect, so we started implementing ELD around three years ago.
How long did it take to roll it out across your fleet?
This is been an ongoing program. We send all of our Linemen to Journeyman Upgrades where they can upgrade their skills and keep competitive. We built a program there specifically for ELD and use with Geotab Drive to ensure everyone has at minimum a basic knowledge of the platform.
What is the split of those using ELD between HOS and only DVIR?
We have certain groups, such as our metering group, who don’t drive vehicles requiring HOS logs, so they use Geotab Drive only for their pre-trip inspection reports.
Are you using smartphones or tablets in the cab?
We have issued smartphones to all of our staff.
When people think ELD, they think it only applies to long haul trucking. Why does Fortis have to use ELD?
FortisAlberta holds a permit for Extended Hours, and this allows us to work an additional two hours on top of the provincial regulation for Hours of Service. Inside that permit it specifies that we have to maintain an hours log and also note on that log that we are working under that permit.
If a driver is pulled over by an Inspector and was not able to provide that log, we would be in trouble. Having everyone use HOS logs solves that problem.
On top of that, we have certain storm scenarios which lead to drivers travelling hundreds of kilometers, which puts them outside of that 160km radius requirement. Therefore, we made it mandatory that everyone should be filling their logs out.
So even if you are in construction, utility space, and the like, ELD could very well impact you?
Yes, very much so.
What, if any, benefits have you seen or realized from ELD?
I honestly think that there are more drivers using their logs than before, especially HOS. This is simply due to the fact that the device does it all for you. There really is no input aside from logging in, doing your pre-trip and then logging off. It makes it very easy to maintain your logs.
What are some things you wish you knew at the start when implementing ELD?
If wish we had spent more time at the beginning teaching our staff how to use it. When we took it on, it was very much a pilot program. As such, our training wasn’t set or formal, and there were user knowledge issues. Training is extremely important when starting down this path to ensure success.
Related: Everything you need to know about Canadian ELD Mandate.
What are any tips or suggestions you would have for fleets that need to start implementing ELD?
I would say for the users of ELD to set up reminders on your phone to log on and log off. Those two things are some of the few human inputs the system has and when a driver forgets to log-off, it is a nuisance.
The next suggestion is to start as soon as you can; don’t wait for the mandate to come into effect. We have been implementing this in phases and conducting training over the course of three years to get where we are currently. Now consider that, with the fact the mandate takes effect in under 7 months.
Related: When is the ELD mandate official start date for Canada?
The biggest asset we have found with ELD is with the DVIR. We get daily reports of deficiencies to give us insights not only on what needs to be fixed, but can also call guys up and tell them they should not be driving with those listed deficiencies and can get them off the road. I would highly recommend doing that from the very beginning.
What are any issues you have had with ELD or since you have implemented it?
Our main problem has been this: Driver A is logged in to a vehicle and at some point during the day, Driver B jumps in their truck and starts driving, without logging in. Now all of the driving activity is hitting Driver A, despite the fact Driver B is behind the wheel.
This may also factor into your other question – you need buy-in from absolutely everyone to truly have success with rolling out ELD. Since ELD is mandated, it is much better to start sooner as opposed to waiting.