11/25/09

  12:51:04 pm, Categories: efficiencies , Tags: dispatching software

There are several different choices when it comes to dispatching software, and some are more suited to the small business environment. When it comes to dispatching, we all know how difficult it can be to keep track of all of the loads, drivers, and appointments and while trying to keep all of your drivers and customers happy.

Inside a trucking company there can be many different dispatch departments. Some handle only brokerage, some only company trucks, some only owner operators. There are some smaller companies that don’t have a lot of people but those few people handle everything. In cases where dispatchers run both the company trucks and find outside carriers for their extra freight having a great system that can handle all of these situations is vital.

That's what TruckMaster is all about. Our software is very versatile in being able to handle all of the complex issues of dispatching. When it comes to dispatching, things change every few minutes, from drivers and carriers not being able to take or deliver loads to customers who need loads moved in a hurry.

Inside the TruckMaster dispatch system you are able to:

  • Create the load so that you can see it before putting it on a truck. You are able to enter the customer, shipping and receiving information dates and times, weights, comments and your rates to be billed.
  • Take that load and put it on a truck whether it is a company truck or outside carrier. If it’s an outside carrier you can rate it and send them a confirmation.
  • View all of the available loads that are waiting to be dispatched on a truck or carrier.
  • View all of the available loads on the top and all of the trucks and their status on the bottom. From this screen you can select a load and click on the truck you wish to put the load on which dispatches the truck.
  • View the status, destination, last call in and PTA of a truck or a trailer.

Knowing where your trucks are at all times is vital and by having a screen specifically to record those check calls from drivers and carriers where they are showing, what they are doing, and if there running on time, as a dispatcher having easy access to tell anyone where they are makes life so much easier, more efficient, therefore more cost effective.

With all of these features that tie dispatching together for both company trucks or outside trucks, TruckMaster Logistics Systems is the trucking system for you. It is easy to learn and easy to use. You are able to keep on top of your loads and able to keep drivers and customers informed. Contact TruckMaster today for a free demo; learn how having a great system can make your life so much better.

Donna Braxton
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Trucking Company

11/16/09

  09:04:59 am, Categories: efficiencies , Tags: tools of the trade

Being raised in a farming and cattle ranching family, I had the opportunity to work with a variety of tools. Tools would quite often be used for things they were certainly not designed for, such has a claw hammer used to stretch barbwire tight after you had broken the wire stretcher attempting to use it as a winch to pull the pickup out of a mud hole.

In fact, the quality of the tool was quite often judged by how many things you could do with it and not break it. In my late teens I decided I was too good for farm work and worked on a construction crew for a couple of summers. I worked in concrete and did some framing. I learned a great deal about the proper use of tools during those summers, and having the right tool for the job at hand.

The quality of the tool was not simply judged on brute durability, in fact that took a second seat to precision, and efficiency. It was crucial to have the correct blade, nails, or hammer for the job. I also learned the cost of these professional tools when I had to buy my own. If I wanted to produce the quality and precision job the crew demanded I had to have quality tools.

The lessons I learned about quality tools have stuck with me through the years. I often see people who spend an enormous amount of effort, time, and money on a project or business only to put it all in jeopardy because they refuse to invest in the proper tools. This is not to say that tools have to be expensive to be quality, or, because something is expensive it is quality. However professional tools are held to a higher standard and typically cost more to produce.

Quite often trucking companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars investing in trucks, trailers, even office equipment. But when it comes to investing in the systems which manage all of their investments they falter. Sometimes they will use no system and invest in more employees or they will purchase an inexpensive system that will only manage a part of their business. This leaves the rest of the business to be managed manually or by a different inexpensive solution. These are very dangerous options for a company. As the old adage says if you cannot measure it you cannot manage it. If you measure it inaccurately you are going to manage it inaccurately.

In today's fast paced, and highly competitive transportation industry, measuring every detail of your operation is crucial. You must have the proper tools to measure and manage your company quickly and efficiently. Using a simple, off the shelf, accounting system to manage your trucking company or freight brokerage is not going to provide you the professional and accurate results your company and your customers require. Investing in a true transportation management system that is built and supported from the beginning by transportation professionals will provide you and your company quality and professional results.

Please consider TruckMaster as your company's next investment to ensure you have the proper tools of the trade. We will not only provide you with these tools but also with the expertise and support to ensure that you and your crew know how to use them, and we will ensure you have what you need in the future.

Kurtis Brown
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Trucking Company

10/16/09

  01:40:29 pm, Categories: efficiencies , Tags: accounts receivable

Why do you own a trucking company? There are probably as many reasons as there are companies. But regardless of your initial reasons, one reason now should be to make money. If you are not making money you will soon have close your doors. You have continual expenses and if you do not have money constantly coming in, you will not be in business very long.

Monitoring your Accounts Receivable (A/R) is essential to continuing to operating. You must not allow your invoices to go uncollected for an extended period. A good transportation management system (TMS) software package should make monitoring your A/R simple and easy.

Your Accounts Receivables software should:

  • Be integrated with your dispatching system to avoid duplicate data entry
  • Allow quick and easy billing, but be flexible enough to allow all types of charges on one invoice
  • Allow various charges to be easily and automatically posted to various sales accounts
  • Allow consolidation of multiple trips on one invoice if desired
  • Allow all, or a portion, of your invoices to be factored and provide an easy way to track factored invoices
  • Provide an efficient method of applying full or partial payments against outstanding invoices
  • provide for a simple method to write off short payments or track the outstanding balances if not written off
  • Have an on-screen collections queue that will allow you see which customers are having payment issues, at a glance, and be able to add collection comments easily and quickly
  • Provide a method for adding interest to overdue invoices if desired
  • Allow for multiple methods of contact (telephone, email, fax, mail…) and allow you to send statements easily by any of these methods.
  • Provide a method to block dispatchers from booking new freight for customers with excessive outstanding invoices
  • Provide all necessary reports (A/R Aging, sales journals, statements, P&L….)
  • Provide an quick way to compare your receivables aging with your payables aging to easily monitor your financial status

If your current TMS or accounting software does not provide all of these features, contact TruckMaster today for an online demonstration. You can’t afford to allow your A/R to go unmonitored and uncollected. Your software should make it simple and easy to monitor your company’s financial health.

Craig Sorensen
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Trucking Company

09/29/09

  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

09/14/09

  10:43:42 am, Categories: efficiencies , Tags: document management

Often document management is an option or 'add on' solution and it is usually an expensive option for most systems. TruckMaster's unique design and setup allows for system wide document imaging and management with no additional cost or hardware. This is an often over looked and under appreciated benefit.

I believe it is this way because the perception that "it is not real until it is printed on paper". Since papyrus took over from clay tablets this has been engrained in us. However, in the technological world we live in we simply do not have room, or time, for paper any longer. We generate so much data each day it would be insane to try to print it all. We see this in the form of websites, on-line banking, and even electronic billboards. Have you been through Las Vegas lately, wow! Just these examples represent tons of paper that we used to use. Now we trust digital images with just about everything in our daily lives, from medical records to our children's on-line grades.

Not so long ago we used to print the final draft of anything out of either fear that it could get destroyed or lost on a computer, or we had that deep seated need to hold the document in our hands to prove it was real. However, electronic data storage has become extremely inexpensive and very secure. With TruckMaster's system, it is also extremely organized and easily accessible.

Because you may attach documents to any file in the system, there is no need to worry about finding your documents. They are directly attached to the very record you attach them. There is no need to worry about extra cataloging or organizing. TruckMaster does it all for you. Anytime you access that record in the future TruckMaster will tell you and show you that a document is attached and available for you to retrieve. It's so simple, and yet so effective.

Think of anything you have to file for your trucking company or freight brokerage business. Anything; Employee files, Driver files, Equipment Inspection reports, Permits, and Licensing, Customer Proof of Delivery documents, Shipment Claim forms and pictures of product, the list just goes on and on. How many file cabinets do you own? Better yet, how many boxes of files do you have in storage?

Imagine all of those thousands of paper documents simply in your system backup file. Often the first reaction is how easy it would be to lose or accidentally delete that file. But wait, it's equally easy to create multiple, encrypted, backup files and save them to multiple locations. How easy is it to make backup copies of all that paper and distribute them to multiple locations? If, God forbid, you suffer one natural disaster how many documents could you lose forever? Now what is real and what isn't?

TruckMaster's document imaging saves you time, money, and keeps your company's data safe for as long as you need it. If you have a TruckMaster system and you haven't used document imaging, call us and we'll help you get started. If you don't have a TruckMaster system we can help you with that too! TruckMaster Your Company Today!

Kurtis Brown
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Logistics Systems, Inc.
TruckMaster Your Trucking Company

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An ongoing discussion of trucking software. Things to watch for, things to watch out for.

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