An App Explosion

Todd Dills | November 01, 2011

Pocket tools proliferate for networking, reference and managing trucking life and business

As a smartphone user, you’re probably already aware of many of the tools for networking, weather, navigation and more.

Facebook, Twitter, Google Maps and the Weather Channel, among others, offer one-touch access to their networking, microblogging, and route- and emergency-planning functions. Games — from Scrabble-like Words With Friends to the popular Angry Birds — fill in dead time. But trucking suppliers and service providers — as well as enterprising drivers — have been developing apps with specific functions to help you efficiently navigate on the road. From logbook and tracking apps to document services and single-function surcharge- and scale-math cheaters, there’s likely an app for it.

Trip planning

Owner-operator Miguel Dunkelberger, leased to LR & Sons of Grand Rapids, Mich., frequently uses Pilot Travel Centers’ store locator app (iPhone), which uses the GPS functionality of the iPhone to locate the nearest Pilot or Flying J location, then offers turn-by-turn directions to the stop. TravelCenters of America’s new TruckSmart app (iPhone, Android) has the same functionality for TA and Petro locations, as well as stops’ real-time parking availability, fuel price and other data.

uDrove’s logs screen on a Motorola Droid.

In May, concurrent with release of the app for Android phones, TA-Petro integrated its UltraOne loyalty reward program in the app, allowing drivers to check credits, purchase histories and points balances, among other functions. A shower interface enables searching within a 15-mile radius for shower availability (including approximate wait times), shower reservations and push notifications of availability.

Truckers News publisher Randall-Reilly Business Media and Information, in collaboration with Pro-

Miles and Salebug.com, developed the Truck Stop Coupons app, now expanded and called Trucker Tools (Android, iPhone, Blackberry). The app features access to specials at truck stops. It includes a complete directory of truck stops as well as other retail locations that sell diesel, with current fuel prices and mapping included. The multifunction app offers access to loads nationwide, cargo insurance deals, real-time traffic, current weather conditions, a driver-to-driver message board and more. Search “Trucker Tools” on the apps markets and, the company says, keep an eye out for significant updates to arrive soon.

The Trucker Tools app’s home screen on Android phones. The multifunction app is also available for iPhone and Blackberry platforms.

The Truckster app (iPhone, Android), too, includes more than just chain truck stops in its directory. Developed by former driver Leigh Gagnon and launched for the iPhone in 2009, it also offers location functionality for other parking resources like rest areas, Wal-Mart locations, weigh stations and hotels. Drivers using the app can assist the developer in updating the information and adding additional stops.

Parts, service and more

Tire and truck dealers have their own apps. Daimler Trucks North America’s TruckerNet app (iPhone, Android, Blackberry) enables one-touch access to the Freightliner, Western Star and Detroit Diesel manufacturer’s U.S.-Canada parts and service network as well as TA and Petro locations. Built into the app is access to DTNA’s Excelerator “On Call” 24/7 support line for roadside assistance, tow/extraction and monitoring of repairs.

Similarly, the Mack Dealer Locator (iPhone) lists and helps connect users to Mack dealers using phone GPS functionality in a map for real-time location tracking, including a listing of services offered at each location.

Tire makers Michelin and Continental likewise have service-locator apps for the iPhone; Michelin’s is also available for Android and Blackberry. Both offer users one-touch calling to emergency road service networks OnCall (Michelin) and ContiFleet (Continental).

New apps extend to truck insurers. Progressive Commercial this summer released the Insure My Truck app (iPhone), offering customized estimates useful when considering the cost of a new truck or shopping among insurance carriers.

Logs, inspection reports and more

The Xata Turnpike Route­Tracker app (Android, most smartphones on Verizon, Sprint, AT&T) recently introduced the RouteTracker 2, modifying its original offering capable of providing logging functionality on a smartphone to satisfy federal requirements of electronic onboard recorders for hours-of-service compliance. Combined with Web-based storage and tools at a cost of $35 a month, the Route-Tracker offers real-time tracking capability and automated IFTA data collection and reporting, in addition to the logging capability.

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