Qualcomm , or Omnitracs, is an onboard computer with a messaging system, GPS navigation, an electronic logging device (ELD), and more. It is tied into the truck's computer and also allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and exchange messages with the driver - similar to email. You will access the Qualcomm from inside the truck, using what looks like an iPad.
Another way to summarize what the Qualcomm (Omnitracs) does is logistics management.
Each company can set up their Qualcomm (Omnitracs) to monitor the truck based on their own specifications. Most are set to monitor:
The way the device works is similar to a Garmin GPS and is about the size of an iPad, with a touch screen and easy prompts that you tap on. The newest Omnitracs devices come with bells and whistles like voice command, smartphone pairing, and Bluetooth so that you can update trip information while not in the truck. The device can even act as a WiFi hotspot so you don’t have to rely on spotty WiFi at truck stops for your personal devices.
You’ll record all of your actions as "macros," which are a preconfigured list of messages that you use regularly as a truck driver. These macros will represent everything, including load assignment, load updates, arrival at customer, fuel stop, departing location, empty call to get a new load, and free form messages to your dispatcher. Messages can even be of a fun and personal nature, just like email. The following are all things you will be using your Omnitracs or other ELD to do:
Why do I say this is the device that truck drivers "call" a Qualcomm? Because it’s not actually called a Qualcomm. Sort of like when people refer to all brands of facial tissues as Kleenex or all copy machines as Xerox. Not only is Qualcomm not the name of all electronic onboard truck devices-- it’s not been the name of any onboard truck device for some time. Qualcomm is a company founded in 1988 that still exists in the mobile technology industry doing stuff like making microchips for iPhones, but which sold their fleet management technology, called Omnitracs, to a private investment firm (Vista Equity Partners) in 2013. In other words, Qualcomm got out of trucking.
Omnitracs is now the company and brand name of the device, and beyond that there are even more brands. The name Qualcomm simply stuck, and is now culturally used by truckers to describe their ELD, or electronic logging device. This is important to know because if you’re ever looking for information on your "Qualcomm," you’ll be led down a rabbit hole of unrelated Silicon Valley business news mixed with trucking information that stops in the early 2010s, well before the federal e-log mandate of 2018 requiring all trucks to be equipped with a device of this kind.
To get even more specific, probably the most common Omnitracs models that trucks use right now are the (newer) Omnitracs IVD and (slightly older, multiple) MCPs. Just know that while you’ll likely hear other truckers referring to it as the Qualcomm at some point,"Omnitracs" is what you’ll see on the box when it’s installed in your truck.
Before ELDs, there were AOBRDs, Automatic On-Board Recording Devices, to record truck drivers’ Hours of Service. There are still some of these floating around today, but due to the federal e-log mandate, part of the law called MAP-21, all of these must be replaced by ELDs by December 16, 2019 (or else). The Omnitracs is a compliant ELD, and the majority of trucks are already outfitted with one.
Here’s what the Omnitracs and other ELDs can do that AOBRDs can’t or aren’t specifically required to:
As of April 1, 2018, it became federally mandated for trucks to be outfitted with an ELD such as the Omnitracs. If a driver is found without one on a roadside inspection, they are placed Out of Service (OOS) for 10 hours. AOBRDs are grandfathered until December 16th, 2019. After that date, all trucks must be on ELD and AOBRDs no longer count.
First, the device has to be installed in your truck either at an Omnitracs authorized service center or by a field technician who connects it to the engine’s computer after removing part of the dash. There is also an initial computer set-up that your company or you will complete to get you in the system. For other brands, the process will be the same, only through that company. As for whose responsibility it is to schedule and pay for installation, that will depend on your individual situation and/or company. Most companies will already have the truck outfitted with the device for you.
After installation, the device will be ready to use, and will be a one-stop-shop for everything you need to report to meet regulations and communicate with your company and dispatchers, and also offers navigational features that interface automatically with your load information and Hours of Service. Many drivers like to use their phone or their own personal GPS for navigation in addition.
The ELD has all of the necessary parts to help you do your job, while Google Maps and other GPS devices and apps are often considered more user friendly and more accurate in terms of navigation, depending on the ELD model.
Omnitracs and other ELD manufacturers have a competitor to contend with, which is Rand McNally. Rand McNally offers a line of GPS products that can be used by 4-wheelers as well as truck drivers. Many drivers swear by Rand McNally products for GPS accuracy, as well as Google Maps on their personal iPhone or Android device. Omnitracs is getting better all the time, and is the industry leader in fleet management ELD technology, but sometimes drivers complain of the device leading them on a wild goose chase in terms of navigation. It can’t hurt to invest in a backup navigation system. Two heads are better than one, even if they’re robots.
A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.
Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.
A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.
The portion of the tractor behind the seats which acts as the "living space" for the driver. It generally contains a bed (or bunk beds), cabinets, lights, temperature control knobs, and 12 volt plugs for power.
The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle
The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.
What Does The FMCSA Do?
A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.
State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.
Operating While Intoxicated
When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.
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