A first look at the FleetUp Trace device for truckers

February 12, 2018  - By
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FleetUp Trace is a ruggedized tablet designed for fleet drivers required to display Records of Duty Status (RODS) upon request instead of printing out hard copies with the new Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandateTim provides thoughts on the product hardware, ease-of-use and various app features.

Photo: FleetUp-Trace

Photo: FleetUp-Trace

By Tim Spence

Sometimes, there is great anticipation when buying a new electronic gadget. The look, the feel and the flashy presentation is what many products on the market rely on to make their product the best. With ELDs though, drivers and fleets managers are thinking about these products a bit differently. Thoughts like:

  • Will this satisfy our need for compliance?
  • How much training will this take?
  • How many drivers am I going to lose?
  • Is this even going to work?

When powering up the FleetUp Trace tablet for the first time and opening the Hours of Service (HOS) app, it was evident that a lot of thought went into fulfilling these needs. Here is a first look at FleetUp Trace, a ruggedized tablet designed for fleet drivers required to display Records of Duty Status (RODS), as part of the FMCSA ELD mandate.

Unboxing

When removing the FleetUp Trace case from the box, you will notice that it is quite unique and will not easily be lost among other items because of that. The case was durable and tough but soft as well. When unzipped it revealed the Android tablet, a couple of short manuals and various accessories for charging and memory.

The Tablet

Safety orange is the key color with this tablet and since it is a popular color in our industry, it definitely catches the eye. In addition, the protective case fits the tablet so well, it looks to be a part of the product (if you have ever purchased a tablet and tried to find a durable hard case that fits well, you know).
Booting the tablet, a brilliant orange screen for FleetUp appears and then four preloaded apps on the home screen: FleetUp’s HOS app, FleetUp’s CamVue app, Camscanner (a very reliable document scanner) and a preset version of Teamviewer QuickSupport, which provides an ID and easy instructions to show the FleetUp screen to another device.

https://youtu.be/r4Ney5AFiF8

HOS app tutorial

Starting the app and logging in, the Voice Over HOS greets you by name, gives you the current date, tells your current duty status, how many hours you have left in the 70-hour cycle, and how many on-duty hours you have before you are required to take a break. It then tells you to select a vehicle. After selecting a vehicle and confirming, you are told to tap the HOS button.

The app automatically uses a tutorial showing each feature. One button at a time, the app guides you to the next feature prompted by your action of pressing the “GOT IT” button. This tutorial is available on each section of the device and can be turned off on the main menu that slides over from the left. That is a great feature not only because you wouldn’t want to go through the tutorial EVERY SINGLE TIME but just in case you forget how to use a certain section, like driver vehicle inspection report (DVIR), you can manually slide open the main menu and turn it back on to REINFORCE YOUR LEARNING. After going through the tutorial for each section, you will find a lot of reasons (mainly regulatory) why this is valuable.

Using the HOS app

After going through the tutorial once, even if you have years of experience on paper logs, you will find that many of the basics of logging are easy to find or figure out. It is very comfortable operating without the Voice Over HOS or Tutorial features. On the “Status” tab, you can see your current status and log graph, as well as change your status and check your available hours. On the “LOGS” tab, you can fill out a pre-trip or post-trip inspection and edit your time (except for driving time, of course). This section also allows you to enter shipping document information, edit any equipment information and certify your logs by signing with your finger (no special pen needed).

Features that make the difference

Tutorial mode. While this feature may sound simplistic, it has the capability to answer a driver’s question with the flip of a switch. Just the fact that you can turn it on whenever you need to be reminded is so valuable. It is beneficial to know that this feature does work best in the portrait or vertical mode.

Voice over HOS. This feature reminds you of the actions that many drivers forget. If you have ever used ELDs in the past as a driver or fleet manager, you understand. Along with the text prompts, it reminds the driver to do things such as certifying the log at the end of the day, sign the DVIR, release the vehicle, etc. All the voice and text prompts work hard to keep the driver in compliance. Even when you want to LOG OUT, the app asks you if you still need to complete unfinished actions.

Easy-to-read availability. Many electronic logging devices make it very challenging to understand what hours are left for a driver. With FleetUp, there is no confusion at all because it is stated in text and graph.

Big buttons to change status. No more calibrating screens or needing a stylus just to change your status. Just touch a big button with your finger, enter the note under the GPS-enabled address entry, and tap “Yes.” It is that easy.

On top of everything else, FleetUp Trace and the HOS app are extremely user-friendly. This should be the key to it all because if the device and app are not user-friendly and easy to operate, there is no reason for it to exist.

FleetUp has accomplished a great feat by making the transition to E-Logs painless and smooth while complying with a multitude of regulations. Whether you’re looking for a simple way to track internal records of duty status (RODS) or to ensure HOS compliance and DVIR with a simple, hands-free gadget, FleetUp is one provider that clearly committed a lot of thought into what drivers are going to go through on the road, and offers plenty of features for an all-encompassing solution to the ELD mandate.

Tim Spence, creator of Apps4truckers, is an app consultant, writer and safety manager in Birmingham, Alabama.

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