January 27, 2020


Now that the U.S. Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate deadline is in the rearview mirror, most drivers on the road require an ELD to record their Hours of Service (HOS) in order to remain compliant with federal regulations. As the ELD community has evolved from voluntary Automatic On-Board Recording Devices (AOBRDs) to full ELDs, so has the demand to generate data from the ECM (Electronic Control Module) of the truck. For years, many vehicle manufacturers worked hand in hand with AOBRD vendors to limit ECM interference.

With the proliferation of ELDs and emergence of 100 additional ELD vendors to the industry, the chance for vehicle manufacturers to protect their ECM from interference has grown to an almost unimaginable level. To help combat this, manufacturers are searching for a way to remove all ELD vendors from the ECM. Although this probable solution aims to simplify things, it would still mean adding yet another cable type to the already complex world of ELD cables.

A look back on trucking cables

According to the industry, heavy-duty trucks with ECMs would have directly connected AOBRDs to the manufacturers’ ECMs via a gray 6-pin cable.

The industry standard switched in 2006 when the black, 9-pin cable became the new normal. This new cable was able to produce more data points in order to generate enhanced data. The shift to data-focused cabling brought with it higher expectations to what proper cabling entailed.

Moving into 2016, manufacturers decided that it was time to make a cable change that could keep up with the onset of better reporting and faster data transmission speeds. Thus, they created a green, 9-pin connector cable equipped to handle significantly higher speed transfer rates.

ELD cables in 2020 and beyond

2019 and the new decade have already signaled another major cable shift in the trucking industry — the introduction of the RP1226 connection cable. This addition is bringing the number of basic cable types to four: grey (6-pin), black (9-pin), green (high-speed 9-pin), and RP1226. When you add in the differences between vehicle manufacturers themselves, model year changes, replaced engines, and replaced ECMs, distinguishing what cable goes to what truck is a challenging endeavor for fleet operators.

With RP1226, manufacturers are trying to encourage ELD vendors to cease connecting directly into the vehicle’s ECM. Some manufacturers have even gone so far as to void warranties if an ELD or other non-vehicle manufacturer vendor uses the ECM.

Vehicle manufacturers are taking a standardized, unified approach to cabling, and a universal, heavy-duty cable could very likely be on the horizon. Unifying rather than further dividing fleets on cables will likely prove immensely beneficial to manufacturers, vendors, and fleet operators in the future, as it simplifies cable processes tremendously.

As you continue to order new trucks for your operation, be sure to speak with your vehicle manufacturer representative to best ensure complete understanding of correct cable configurations for your fleet. In the meantime, continue to keep up with other upcoming industry hot topics on our Road Ahead Blog!