FMCSA has a new proposed rule mandating Electronics Logging Devices (ELDs) for some drivers. One of the requirements is for an ELD to be “integrally synchronized” with the vehicle’s engine. What does that mean?

Modern engines have an electronic control module (ECM) that takes inputs such as throttle position, transmission gear, speed, and temperature, and controls the burning of fuel to meet desired efficiency and performance requirements. One of the things the ECM does is send information to other parts of the vehicle about what is going on. Heavy duty vehicles in the United States typically use the J1939 standard from the Society of Automotive Engineers, which defines how this information is formatted and converted to electrical signals and how multiple electronic modules can communicate with each other. Light duty vehicles have their own set of On-Board Diagnostics protocols (OBD-II) that are used.

The important information for the ELD proposed rule is engine status (i.e is it running?), motion status (i.e. is the vehicle moving?), miles driven, and engine hours. Zonar uses the engine RPM to determine whether it is running, wheel-based vehicle speed to determine motion, and odometer for miles driven; each of these is transmitted by the ECM at least ten times per second, and the V3 updates its internal value every time. Engine hours are available on request; the V3 records it every time the engine starts and stops running. That keeps the Zonar system synchronized with what is actually happening on the vehicle, not just for driver logs, but for GPS tracking and trip reports as well. And Zonar goes beyond the minimum required for an ELD, monitoring additional information from the ECM to provide useful alerts, fuel analytics, and other tools to keep your vehicles running smoothly and efficiently.

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