Hardwired ECM ELD Tablet VS. Wireless ECM ELD Tablet

Posted 06/15/18

Hardwired ECM ELD Tablet VS Wireless ECM ELD Tablet

Looking to understand the differences between a hardwired ECM ELD tablet (direct connect) vs a wireless ECM ELD tablet?  You could actually be using the ELD tablet, but knowing this one key factor can make all the difference in how they work.

Ways to connect to the ECM for your ELDHardwired Direct Connect ECm ECM ELD Tablet

There are essentially two main ways to connect your ELD tablet to the ECM.  The first being a hardwired direct connection to the ECM.  In this scenario, your ELD tablet would have a direct connection to the ECM or be called hardwired.  This scenario requires some extra labor in installing it upfront but allows for a much more steady and reliable ECM connection.  Typically with a hardwired or direct connection, the driver does not take the ELD out of the truck as the ELD is generally mounted in a fixed position.  The except is in using a docking station, like iGlobal LLC’s Journey 8R that records and stores the ECM information in the docking station. It’s still hardwired, but gives the flexibility of a wireless device allowing the driver to un-dock the ELD tablet and leave the truck all while staying connected to the ECM.  When the driver returns, they simply re-dock, and the ELD and ECM will synchronize.

The second option is to have an ELD tablet with a wireless ECM.  Although these set-ups are becoming more and more popular, especially with owner operators and smaller fleets, they still have their limits and draw backs.  The single most critical drawback to the wireless ECM is the connection.  More and more fleets using an ELD with a wireless connection are reporting that drivers are having failures in the field with the connections.

As the majority of the technology relies on a single Bluetooth connection to communicate between the ECM and the tablet or smart phone in the truck, over time that connection can break.  If the truck driver stops to get fuel and decides to go in the rest stop for a drink, once they are 30 feet away from the truck, the pairing / connection breaks  (is lost).  This is common for most Bluetooth technology.  In this situation, if the driver does not realize this connection is lost, he could be driving for hours while his ELD is no longer functioning.  If he or she was to get stopped by law enforcement, the ELD logs would be inaccurate at that point and a citation would be served for inaccurate hours of service.

Hardwired ECM ELD Tablet To Reduce Office Labor

With the scenario described above, fleets are relying on safety directors and office personnel to review/track and maintain an unassigned mileage report.  The report is created from drivers who are driving with no ECM connection or who have not logged into the ELD.  Each instance that this occurs triggers an unassigned mileage report indicator.  Office personnel can spend a mass majority of their day doing nothing but reviewing unassigned mileage events and then assigning them out to drivers for review.  But, with a hardwired connection there should no instances of unassigned mileage due to a pairing issue since the ELD is hardwired into the ECM.

The Impact To The Driver

As a driver your main objective is to keep rolling.  In the end, more miles driven equals more money made.  If your ELD is constantly in need of being re-paired with the ECM, how much time and money is spent stopping to fix issues with the device?  What happens if you show up late to the shipper or receiver?  Or worse yet, you get stopped by law enforcement and receive a citation for your ELD not working or put out of service for 10 hours?  What happens to the assembly line that is down to their last part and are waiting for you to show up but you are shut down for 10 hours?  A decision as simple as hardwired ECM ELD or wireless ECM ELD, could be the deciding factor on your shipment arriving on time. In turn, the company determining if they will ship with you again.

Hardwired ECM ELD Tablet VS. Wireless ECM ELD Tablet Conclusion

In conclusion, hardwired ECM connections as well as wireless ECM connections do have and serve a purpose and fit certain applications better than others.  Owner operators who are running an ELD app on their smart phone or their own tablet, may be better suited for this set-up as they are able to better monitor the connections. This allows them the flexibility to bring in their personal devices out of the truck on a daily basis to use for personal use.  On the other hand, larger companies with hundreds of drivers may be best suited for a hardwired ECM ELD tablet to ensure they are not experiencing the wireless issues described and compounding that by hundreds of drivers.


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