Technology drives the transportation and logistics industry. This isn’t news to truckers. Smart phones have changed how freight gets moved.
Trucks are now integrated mobile offices. By using apps and other mobile technology, transportation companies want to streamline the entire load delivery process.
Depending on your setup and technology, you can post your truck, accept a load, deliver the load, submit your load paperwork to your broker or factoring company and get paid — all from your truck and your mobile device.
There are now dozens — if not hundreds — of apps designed for truckers. You need access to load boards? There’s an app. Want to know what truck stops take your fuel card? App. How about a fitness app that uses your truck as a gym? App.
With billions of investment dollars being pumped into the transportation industry, you can bet that more apps and integrations are coming. That’s a good thing for truckers. But it’s up to you to figure out which ones make the most sense for your business.
So how do you know which ones to add? Before downloading any app, there a few things to consider:
- Cost: Apps range in cost from free, premium and free versions with in-app purchases. Most apps you’d use for your trucking business are likely to be free. For example, many large brokers have their own free app to make it easier for carriers to find and book loads.
- Benefits: Don’t hit that download button unless you’re sure it’s something that will actually help you or your business. It’s not just the cost of the app; it’s the space and access it requires on your phone.
- Size and Speed: Some apps can take up a lot of valuable real estate on your phone. If you don’t have a lot of space, you may want to hold off on downloading bloated apps that can slow down your phone and zap battery life.
When it comes to running a trucking company, technology should be a part of your everyday operations. To better help you decide which apps you need, we’ve put together a short list of the top apps for truckers.
What are the best apps for truckers?
#1: An App for Your ELD
This is obvious and No.1. for a reason: Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) are required to track the hours you spend driving. This app isn’t a nice-to-have. This is a legal requirement. All ELD providers will have an app to download to help you manage your HOS. Because it is connected straight to your vehicle, you get other important information, like vehicle diagnostics and help calculating IFTA taxes across
#2: A TMS App
Choosing the right transportation management system (TMS) is a must for growing trucking companies. A TMS can help you manage nearly every aspect of your transportation business: finding loads, invoicing, driver pay, reporting tools, GPS driver tracking and more.
Like ELDs, there are several providers. Picking one can be a challenge, but there a couple things to consider:
- Is it mobile-friendly?
- Does it have integrations with other products or services you use?
- Can it grow with you as you bring on more trucks?
- If you factor your invoices, does it have a seamless connection so you can get paid quickly?
If you’ve never used a TMS before, AscendTMS offers a free version that comes loaded with more than 30 features and two user licenses. (Tip: Triumph Business Capital clients get a free year of the premium version).
#3: A Load Board App
If you’re an owner-operator who relies on running the spot market, you use load boards to find freight.
Load boards are great sources for finding freight because they show you loads from brokers all over the country. You put in your starting point, your destination, and you’re instantly shown loads matching your criteria. Load boards have come a long way since the days of paper note cards pinned to a bulletin board inside a truck stop.
What to consider in a load board app:
- How many loads are posted daily?
- What broker information is provided?: Days to pay, company reviews, etc.
- Do they provide spot and contract rate information?
- Do they have integrations or partnerships with other companies?
Load boards should be part of your freight-finding strategy. Many owner-operators run the spot market exclusively, and others use load boards to add on to their contract work. Having the app on your phone guarantees that you can search for freight at a moment’s notice.
#4: A Payment Platform
When your payments are delayed, you may not be able to accept loads, buy fuel, etc. Whether you’re getting paid by a broker or a factoring company, you need to be able to send load paperwork for approval in order to get paid.
Some factoring companies offer companion apps that work similar to their desktop versions. These apps usually have additional features that can you help you make quicker and smarter decisions about your business.
If you work with a factoring company, be sure to ask if their app has these features:
- Take scan-like quality photos of all load documents
- Submit straight to broker or factoring company – NO EMAIL REQUIRED.
- Select payment type or split payments.
- Broker credit checks
- Fuel advances
Camscanner might be one of the most popular trucking apps out there and for good reason.
Even with all this technology, trucking depends on paper — a lot of paper. And as a trucker, you have to keep track of all of it. Most brokers and factoring companies accept copies or scans of load documents.
That means you can use an app like Camscanner to take photos of your load documents that you can then submit to your broker or factoring company for payment. Camscanner has a lot of built-in filters and features that help clean up paperwork. Clean paperwork leads to less rejections or disputes. Translation: you get paid faster when the paperwork looks good.
It isn’t easy to be an owner-operator, but the five key apps we’ve listed here will provide you with useful information, guidance and even funding to make the job easier.
Ready to learn how Triumph Business Capital can help you with your trucking business? Click here to read about our services and get a quote.