Trucking Software: Something For Everyone

As more and more truckers dive into the computer age, their reliance on technology to enable them to operate smarter has increased dramatically.  Regardless of whether you’re a fleet driver hoping to keep tabs on your miles, reimbursements, and logs, or an independent owner/operator that needs an all-in-one solution, there’s a software application for nearly everyone.

Until now, software applications came in one form — programs — that installed on your computer’s hard drive and were updated with manual data inputs.  Recently, however, a new phenomenon has begun to show up in the computer world — cloud computing.  Instead of installing on your computer’s hard drive, the user of a cloud application will access their account via the Internet by logging into their account and entering relevant information online.

Access to these cloud networks is restricted to those users with an Internet connection, but with a wireless connection as close as the nearest truck stop, rest area, or cellular telephone hookup, truckers can access their online accounts more easily than ever before.  In addition, cloud applications also enable truckers to reach information about their business anywhere they have access to the web — from any computer.

Features

Depending upon which software solution you decide upon, there are a variety of features available in the different trucking software offerings on the market.  Some of the more common features include:

Income and expenses by trip –  Because managing your cashflow is dependent upon keeping tabs on your income and expenses, the overwhelming majority of the trucking software applications utilize a per trip recording interface — which makes the most sense because that’s how you generate income and incur expenses.

Electronic Log Books (e-logs) — While you may still prefer keeping paper logs, many of the software programs have features that allow you to input you log data for electronic logbook record-keeping and compliance purposes.  Some will make note of e-log errors and will automatically generate “gotcha” letters, which gives you the opportunity to correct any errors before an enforcement officer does it for you during a roadside inspection or during a D.O.T. compliance review.

Settlement Reconciliation — Reconciling settlement sheets can be a time-consuming process when done manually, but by entering information from settlement sheets, your computer can cross-reference information previously entered in other sections of the software to ensure that all expenses have properly been reimbursed by your carrier.

Customer Records — One of the biggest challenges owner/operators face is keeping track of their customer information.  Most trucking software applications offer you the ability to maintain customer records, either through a basic software feature or through an upgraded version of the software.

Driver Records — While many owner/operators are one-man (or woman) operations, some owner/operators need to maintain driver records for a hired co-driver or other drivers that they employ.

Fuel Reports — You may be hundreds or thousands of miles from home, but you’re still responsible for maintaining accurate records of your trips so that you can file fuel reports.  This feature gives you the ability to compile the necessary information to compile your fuel reports, while minimizing your expenses.

IFTA Reports — Any driver that has ever spent hours reconstructing trips in order to comply with IFTA mileage reporting requirements knows that this can be a real pain in the neck.  However, IFTA reports are easier to generate because some of these trucking software applications take information from your trip sheets and automatically export it to the IFTA reporting feature of the software — freeing you to drive.

Truck and Trailer Maintenance Records — Not only are good maintenance records critical to your ability to properly maintain your equipment, it is also important for D.O.T. compliance purposes.  Another reason that this is important is because your equipment will eventually be traded-in for newer equipment — and accurate record can help to ensure that your trade-in allowance is as high as possible.

Dispatch software – It’s no secret that the larger your fleet, the greater your need for software with greater performance capabilities.  Having the ability to handle all aspects off truck and load dispatching is critical to your success – and dispatch software provides many of the features that can enable you to manage all of the moving parts of your business so that your business can operate much more efficiently.

If you’re the owner of a larger fleet — whether three trucks or 90 — there’s a good chance that you’ll need a much more robust fleet management software application that can do much more.  While some of the above options might work well for you, you will most likely prefer a software application that can also:

  • track trucks by unit number
  • give the location of trucks in close proximity to available loads
  • view all available loads
  • Driver records
  • Integrate with Qualcomm and other satellite communication systems
  • Maintenance Records
  • Customer Billing
  • Audit driver logs
  • Integrate with Quickbooks and other financial software

Here is a listing of some of the more robust software applications that might be more appropriate for small to medium-sized operations:

http://www.mile.com/index.aspx

http://www.pcssoft.com/?gclid=CPbE1v7yz58CFQoeDQod51Rp3g

http://www.axonsoftware.com/index.html

http://www.masslogics.com/

http://www.promiles.com/

Not all trucking software will handle all of these features.  Depending upon how much you want to spend, some software will do just a few things, while other software has much more robust features and capabilities.

If you’re a company driver and you’re simply looking for a software application that can help you to keep track of miles driven and expenses incurred, a bare-bones application is available for as little as $50.

Cost

Depending upon what features you’re looking for in a software application, the cost can vary considerably — from about $100 for a minimalist, accounting-based software application to several thousand dollars for an application that will do everything but shine your wheels.

If the thought of forking over that much cash all at once makes you feel dizzy, you might opt for a cloud-based application.  Instead of purchasing the software and owning it, you are essentially renting it on a month-to-month basis.  You’ll pay a monthly subscription fee in order to access your information, but you’ll have the security of knowing that you won’t be susceptible to lost data in the event that your computer crashes or is stolen.  In addition, you can log into your account from anywhere with an Internet connection, so if you, a spouse, or even your bookkeeper needs to access your records, it can be done without needing access to the one machine housing your business records.

Software applications — Machine-based and cloud-based

A quick Internet search for “trucking software” yielded quite a few hits.  Here are some handy links to their respective web pages  so you can explore the pros and cons of each:

http://www.truckershelper.com/ (Also has an application for fleet drivers)

http://www.easytruckingsoftware.com/

http://its-dispatch.com/owneroperators.php

http://www.foglinesoftware.com/index.htm

http://www.dieselboss.com/software/accounting.htm

If you’re aware of any other owner-operator software applications, please let me know and I’ll add links to their sites as well.

Still not sure? Trial by Fire

Trucking software applications are very much like any other commercially available software products on the market today.  There are probably several that will meet your needs, but rarely will you find a software application that is perfect in all ways.  Short of spending thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars on a custom-built software application, your best bet is to find one that meets as many of your needs as you can locate.

The manufacturers of the various trucking software applications are well-aware that your specific needs and wants may vary considerably, depending upon your type of operation.  As a result, most offer free trials, online demos, or other opportunities to “try before you buy”.  Take one or more of them up on their offers to ensure that what you ultimately purchase will do everything you want it to and will help you to keep moving — profitably — down the road towards your destination.


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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Tony June 9, 2010 at 9:38 am

Thank you very much!
Very informative

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Ben Evans November 15, 2010 at 4:35 pm

That’s a great overview you have put together here. Most people looking at trucking software these days are doing so for the first time, and don’t have much experience using anything beyond spreadsheets and QuickBooks. They also have little idea the costs involved for purchasing business class software. We spend lots of time educating our customers, and making sure our software is a good fit for their business before selling them anything.

Ben Evans
Masslogics Transportation Software

Reply

Dan Davis August 24, 2011 at 7:37 pm

I have been driving a Truck with an electronic M4 TREQ from LOADTREK.net
After using this system for 6 weeks here are my concerns!
1. Driving at night can be very dangerous because the driver cannot dim down the screen.
You have this constant bright glairing screen interfering with your night vision. There is no option for the driver to adjust the brightness level.
According to the support people at Loadtrek they say “We work only with an approved personnel from each company.”
2. The Load Trek reboots randomly with a loud and obnoxious noise. There is no way for a driver to turn off the sound especially when sleeping in the sleeper. Again the support people at Loadtrek they say “We work only with an approved personnel from each company.”
3. I can log off duty or into the sleeper or back on duty and the unit will reboot ignoring my last entered DOT duty status. Again trying to contact the people at Load Trek they say “We work only with an approved personnel from each company.” When dealing with the man who is responsible for administrating the drivers logs He has no clue why it does that, but can go on line and manipulate the log book to become DOT compliant.
4. The response time on the M4 TREQ is slower that an old 1980′s Commodore 64
5. The unit will not report your vehicle millage at stops or change of duty status.
I would not recommend this unit in any way! With an arrogant support team like this that only deals with an approved personnel from each company. It is obvious they are spending most of their time legislating the DOT to intact laws to force companies to go out and install some kind of electronic log unit.

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Sarah Seaidoun February 3, 2012 at 2:54 pm

I think this is a great review! We’ve been using ITS for a couple years now and I LOVE the software. I don’t know how we operated before. Well, I do, we used spreadsheets! ha ha… It’s has been a wonderful tool for us to manage our pickups and deliveries. Plus, you can’t beat 65 a month.

Sarah,
Upper 49 Logistics

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Andrew July 6, 2012 at 3:13 am

I think the problem with falsifying e-logs is that any attorney with a few resourceful paralegals can easily prove their inaccuracy. If you are involved in a collision, even if you are not at fault, a doctored log can contribute towards your guilt on any number of legal charges. Even when you are not guilty of something, attempting to trick the system will always make a driver look bad.

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Shane October 18, 2013 at 9:01 pm

You are right sir! This new age is no good for a truck driver the D.O.T has no clue and does not wan’t one as they are being funded by the corporations making money off said product! We all are human and not a machine and this new way is insane and worse than paper logs. There only argument is you can only work 14 hours a day and sleep 10 and if you a trucker you know this is BS. For instance you just been in the sleeper and then have to go 4 hours to pick up or deliver your dispatcher want’s you to go back into the sleeper and start rolling ten hours later how many drivers can wake up for four and a half hours and go back to sleep or have they been awake this whole time? so at the end of the shift you only been awake for 25 0r 28 hours and the DOT can not figure this out what a shame and sometimes progress is not progress as they put our fellow Americans in harms way.

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Stacy July 30, 2013 at 1:32 pm

We are a private carrier we currently use TDS Software. However the price has continually gone up and they have our credit card and they don’t even send us reciepts for what they charge, I have to continually call and ask for them. Last month when I called she still wouldn’t send she just told me over the phone what it was for. We are looking for some new software needless to say. Do you know of any that we would be able to transfer our information from TDS to the new Software?

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Edward November 19, 2013 at 12:57 pm

I bought pcs software years ago for a lot of money. Then they began charging for tech support @30.00 a month. Received notice in mail that there would be increase to $100 a month. I only have 1 truck/1 user so what gives? When I buy software I expect it to keep working. I don’t mind downloading my own updates and would not want be required to pay unless I use. Beware of support fees.

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HoundDog December 25, 2013 at 3:03 pm

I looked into profitgauges a web-based program, it looks perfect BUT $23 a month??? That is outright stealing highway robbery completely not worth it. I could do $10 or maybe $15, but $23 – $276 a year is insane. I have enough monthly payments already. I can get dish for $29! I understand it can be $19 if you sign up right away, but still, that’s insane in my opinion when better solutions – NOT web-based exist for $139 or even $89. ONE time charge free updates. So if you are reading this profitgauges LOWER your prices!

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