What Is an ELD, and What Does It Mean for the IoT?

March 29, 2023 • Zachary Amos


The internet of things (IoT) is seeping into virtually every aspect of our lives. While smart home gadgets may be the most recognizable of these technologies, connected devices are starting to pop up in workplaces, too. The electronic logging device (ELD) is a prime example of how the IoT is growing in commercial circles.

What Is an ELD?

An ELD is a device that plugs into a truck’s onboard computer to track its driving hours and other operational data. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires commercial drivers to use ELDs as a way to keep track of their service hours. That way, they can enforce driving limits to ensure drivers are well-rested and prevent accidents.

On top of recording operational hours, ELDs can gather engine maintenance info, GPS location data, vehicle speed and more. Some can even report safety data like harsh braking or sharp turning. While the FMCSA doesn’t require these features, many ELDs come with them to make these devices more practical for fleets.

Under the FMCSA’s mandate, these devices must also have some kind of data transfer technology. Enforcement officials have to be able to access this data from emails, cloud uploads or Bluetooth, making FMCSA-approved ELDs a type of IoT device.

ELDs and the IoT

Because ELDs are IoT devices and the government requires commercial fleets to use them, they have some interesting implications for the IoT market. Here’s a look at how this technology affects the IoT as a whole.

Growing IoT Adoption

The most direct impact of ELDs on the IoT is that IoT adoption will grow as fleets have to comply with the FMCSA’s rule. Many supply chains already use IoT devices, like using fitness trackers to monitor lobsters in shipping. However, others haven’t implemented the technology out of concerns over its costs or uncertainty over its benefits. The FMCSA’s ELD mandate could change that.

As more fleets implement these IoT devices to comply with this rule, they’ll become familiar with its benefits. Because many ELDs also offer maintenance, location and safety tracking, some fleets may see improvements in these areas, even if that’s not what they installed the systems for. After that, companies may ramp up their IoT adoption to expand on these benefits elsewhere.

This trend is big news for the trucking industry and for IoT manufacturers. Rising IoT adoption could make supply chains safer and more efficient than ever, and the companies that make these devices could see a huge uptick in sales.

Rising IoT Security Concerns

As ELD technology drives IoT adoption in commercial fleets, security concerns will likely become more prominent. The IoT carries some considerable cybersecurity risks, as hackers can use these devices as gateways to more sensitive systems and data. They’re also notoriously difficult to secure, thanks to their minimal built-in safety features and a lack of understanding of their risks.

If truck fleets rush to implement IoT devices without stopping to think about their unique security needs, it could put supply chains at risk. Supply chain attacks affected 62% of organizations in 2021, and rising IoT adoption could make these incidents even more common.

If fleets want to make the most of ELDs and similar devices, they need to take cybersecurity seriously. Consequently, the ELD mandate could either make supply chain attacks more common and destructive or lead to an uptick in logistics-focused security services.

The ELD Mandate Has Unique IoT Implications

The FMCSA’s ELD requirement will bring the IoT to new heights in commercial applications. As that happens, it’ll also put a spotlight on these technologies’ security concerns. How exactly that will pan out remains uncertain, but regardless of the specifics, it will have a considerable impact on the IoT industry.

ELDs are just one example of how the IoT is breaking outside of the consumer sphere. Trends like this highlight how connected technologies are the future of business.