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Trucking Software Connectivity

09/29/09

Trucking Software Connectivity

  01:33:44 pm, Categories: efficiencies , Tags: automation, interfaces

I’d like to explore an often overlooked but very important piece of selecting good trucking software for your trucking company – connectivity.

Good trucking software should act as a hub to the vital spokes that support your business. Information should flow into your trucking software, where it should be made available to your personnel in a convenient and logical manner.

Good trucking software should monitor this normally diverse data and summarize it in an easy to follow manner. If anything it is monitoring is outside of normal parameters, the trucking software should be capable of alerting personnel that you designate of the situation.

I'm not talking about interfaces to accounting software, maintenance software, billing software, and the like – these functions should be built into the core of the trucking software rather than external software to gain the best efficiencies.

Web Portals

Your customers and outside carriers should be able to perform routine and otherwise mundane tasks through a website that you provide them. Basic functions should include:

Carrier

  • Trip Tendering
  • Trip Status Submission
  • Document Submission
  • Payment Status
  • Available Equipment Posting
  • Trip History

Customer

  • Load Submission
  • Load Status
  • Load History
  • Equipment Status

The interface from your web site to your trucking software should be secure, robust, and dependable. If this is set up properly, your website should function as an untiring, 24 hour employee, taking down information and answering questions (see this web portal automation example).

Communication / Tracking Systems

In-cab devices should be directly accessible to your trucking software. Inbound messages should be routed to the correct dispatcher, GPS positions should update the status of the appropriate trip. Sending a message to the driver on a particular load should never be more than a couple keystrokes away from the screens your dispatchers reside on.

A more robust interface will allow drivers to send macros that will take a trip through its life cycle, as well as automatically send a driver his next trip at the appropriate time.

Drivers should be provided a method through the interface of querying routing solutions, finding fuel stops, and retrieving the pending amount of their next pay check. All of these functions will reduce the time your dispatchers spend doing the same.

The major mobile communications & tracking systems to watch for:

  • GeoLogic Solutions
  • Qualcomm
  • @Road
  • CarrierWeb

Mileage / Routing Systems

It is vital that your trucking software have a good interface with mileage / routing systems, such as PC*Miler, Rand McNally MileMaker, and the like. A good trucking software system will depend heavily on this data, utilizing it for trip planning, profit / loss calculations, road and fuel taxes, and the like.

Don't get fooled into purchasing a routing system disguising itself as a trucking management system – a jack of all trades is still a master of none.

Fuel Systems

If you utilize fuel cards, your purchase information already exists in the digital world. It therefore makes little sense for your employees to have to enter that data into your trucking software.

When shopping for trucking software, ensure that it not only has interfaces with the fuel card provider you are currently utilizing, but all of the popular ones out there should you choose to change at some point. A few of the major ones are:

  • COMDATA
  • EFS
  • Fleet One
  • Gasboy
  • Marathon Oil
  • MultiService
  • PetroCard
  • TCH
  • T-Chek

Your trucking software should make it extremely easy to reconcile the purchase information provided by your fuel system with the receipts returned by the driver.

In-House / ERP Systems

Many companies have spent years and small fortunes on their proprietary in-house systems. A good trucking software package will have the ability to communicate with these systems. It is 100% inefficient to take data that exists in one software system and re-enter it into another system.

Ensure that the provider of the trucking software has a history of developing custom interfaces to in-house systems, and will be capable of making modifications to the interface as your in-house system evolves.

EDI

EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) has become increasingly more important in the trucking industry. A good trucking software package will support all of the major transaction sets, and have the ability to handle the myriad of variations to the "standards" that exist. Transmission should be able to be done via email or ftp, through a VAN (Value Added Network) or direct-to-recipient.

The essential transaction types include:

  • 204 – Load Tender
  • 990 – Response To Load Tender
  • 214 – Carrier Shipment Status
  • 210 – Carrier Freight Invoice
  • 997 – Reception Acknowledgement

(See Trucking Industry 101 for more information on trucking EDI.)

ACE

ACE (Automated Commercial Environment) e-manifest submission to the US Bureau of Customs and Border Protection for border crossings should be included if you currently or have plans to do business across the US border. Ensure that it supports both the 2-step and 3-step submission process, and has been approved by the Bureau.

Document Imaging

With the advent of truck stop scanning kiosks, good trucking software should be able to receive scanned documents and attach them to the correct record(s), based on the driver that is sending them. This can greatly reduce manual paperwork as well as speed up cash flow.


A well-connected trucking software system is just as important as a well-connected trucking industry professional. Ensure that your trucking software system is, or take a look at TruckMaster trucking software.

Greg Dodson
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Trucking Company

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