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With the EU’s tachograph retrofitting process underway, we caught up with our member Transport en Logistiek Nederland (TLN) to get their perspective on how the industry is dealing with the new devices and where next for this technology.
Netherlands | Zoetermeer

Smart tachographs in the EU: The Dutch perspective

27 Mar 2024 · Prosperity

With the EU’s tachograph retrofitting process underway, we caught up with our member Transport en Logistiek Nederland (TLN) to get their perspective on how the industry is dealing with the new devices and where next for this technology.

On 21 August 2023, the new smart tachograph 2 (G2V2) was made mandatory for all newly registered commercial heavy-duty vehicles in the EU.

The new SMT2 comes with new functionalities. Compared to the smart tachograph 1, G2V2 includes additional features such as the automatic registration of border crossings and the possibility for enforcers to monitor driving and rest time hours remotely.

Vehicles equipped with analogue, digital or smart tachograph 1 devices are now being retrofitted with G2V2 devices. For analogue and digital tachographs, the retrofitting deadline is 31 December 2024. For the G2V1 tachographs, the deadline is 19 august 2025. 

Operators only have to replace their vehicles’ tachographs if they are used in another Member State than the one they are registered in. This is because the new functionalities are directly related to new rules in international transport, such as cabotage and posting. 

Here’s what TLN had to say on the retrofitting process and tachographs in general.

What is the role of the tachograph in modern logistics?

Tachographs provide data on the driving and rest time hours of drivers. In modern logistics, operators regularly analyse the data with helpful tools, like the TLN Tachoweb, and discuss them with their drivers and clients to better plan their journey and operations within the boundaries of driving and rest time rules. For enforcers, the data is essential for compliance. 

The G2V2 tachograph also records the journey of the vehicle and border crossings. This helps enforcers to check and enforce cabotage and posting rules.

The end goal is to enhance working conditions for drivers and improve road safety. 

How are operators adapting to the constant changes in tachograph technology and requirements?

Changes to tachographs are first felt by the tachograph and vehicle industry since they must develop them and deliver them to operators. This has become more complicated now given all the other digital technologies available in modern vehicles. Road transport professionals are continuously being trained with various tools.

As an operator, it is important to understand the changes in the rules and the new functionalities of the tachograph and train drivers on how to use them. 

Operators need to keep educating themselves. It is quite a challenge for those who do not keep themselves up to date. The use of the tachograph and its data need constant attention and awareness. 

How is the retrofitting process going for operators active in international transport?

We are currently facing a big challenge retrofitting existing tachographs before the end of the year (first deadline for analogue and digital tachographs) and before 19 August 2025 (second deadline for the smart tachograph 1). 

We have been doing everything we can since the introduction of the EU’s Mobility Package 1 to encourage companies to plan and start the retrofitting process. A few are very active, but they have encountered several technical problems. They are also facing challenges with the availability of certain supplies needed to retrofit. 

There was also a problem with the availability of the new tachograph last year. This now seems to be less of a problem. 

Nevertheless, this is one of the reasons we are behind schedule. This means that we will probably also face problems with the capacity of workshops and the availability of qualified technicians who can do the job. We are now collecting data to estimate how big the problem could get if the retrofitting process does not go faster very soon. 

We initiated a short survey last year among our members and presented it to IRU and the European Commission, which has resulted in a bigger survey initiated by IRU. 

We hope that other road transport associations will alert their members as well and we get enough input for the survey so we can present it to the European Commission and develop solutions to the challenge.

There are also various brands that are not compatible and interchangeable with each other. This poses additional retrofitting issues for operators. It also limits their options, undermining their chances of meeting the retrofitting deadlines.

What should the ideal tachograph of the future look like?

The ideal tachograph will not have a card but another unique way of identifying drivers.

This should be a kind of device for the driver that they connect wirelessly to the vehicle, which is secured in a unique way, making inter-driver exchanges no longer possible. 

It would also be beneficial if loading and unloading activities could be recorded automatically. But we are a long way away from that. Furthermore, for the data to be useful, Member States should first agree on what constitutes “loading and unloading”.

This article is the first of a new series on tachographs.