Pocket Tools

Todd Dills | July 01, 2011

Dozens of new smart-phone apps can save you money, time and hassles. Best of all, many are free.

From electronic logging to word on whether a shower’s available at that next truck stop, trucking applications for smartphones have emerged to meet needs large and small for owner-operators. Since the iPhone’s introduction in 2007, competing phones have followed, as have thousands of apps that can be downloaded easily in seconds, usually at no cost.

Michigan-based Miguel Dunkelberger, leased to LR & Sons of Grand Rapids, Mich., has been using Mobile Warrior’s IDDL log book and inspection-report app on his iPhone for more than a year, he says. The feature completely replaced his paper logs.

While not a federally approved electronic onboard recorder, the application affords Dunkelberger, for the $9.95 a month he spends for the service, not only the simplicity of push-button logging but also a significant boost in record-keeping ease. When his carrier was audited by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, he was asked to provide three months’ worth of logs. All he had to do was log into his account and send an email.

Dunkelberger also utilizes Pilot Travel Centers’ store locator app, which can quickly find the nearest Pilot or Flying J location. TravelCenters of America’s new TruckSmart app does the same for TA and Petro locations, as well as providing parking availability, fuel price and other data.

iPad usage of Getloaded’s iGetLoaded app has tripled since last October, says Getloaded Marketing Manager Dane Schwartz, an indication of the app markets’ growing significance on tablet devices, as on phones. “At any level of business, whether it’s accounting, freight matching, or navigation, you can pretty much do it from your phone,” he says.

While most applications that have been around for a while are functional on the iPhone, software developers are introducing versions built to operate on phones driven by Google’s Android operating system. TransCore marketing rep Eileen Hart reports the company’s research a couple of years ago found that “Blackberry was the most popular one. The iPhone has really taken off since then. Most recently, Android has surpassed the iPhone among our customers.”

Regardless of operating system, whether you’re searching for a load, a truck stop, fuel prices, accounting tools, or guides to state hazmat regs, chances are there’s an app for it.


Freight

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iGetLoaded

What it does: This app enables mobile access for Getloaded.com load-board users, with GPS-enabled and other load searches, access to broker credit ratings, rate indexing, one-touch calling for load details, PC Miler routing/mileage and more.

What they say: “This app brings all the essential, core features available at Getloaded.com, plus more, right to your fingertips.” Android functionality is coming, says Dane Schwartz, possibly late this year.

Access: iPhone. getloaded.com/mobile

ITS Trucker

What it does: Internet Truckstop’s app allows access to the IT load board to search for freight using GPS or another location and to post your truck. A “Get Me Home” button displays all loads delivering in a radius of your home base. Direct-dial functions enable one-touch calling.

What they say: CreditStop Broker and Days2Pay information is available on each load as a value-added tool.

Access: Android, iPhone. iTunes App Store or download for Android at udrove.com/and/trucker.apk



My DAT Truckstop

What it does: This app provides up to 25 nearby loads per search from TransCore’s DAT network, in addition to access to information about truck stops, alternative parking data and points of interest.

What they say: “There’s a call button integrated into the interface” for load details, says product developer Scott McCollister, plus a “navigate button” to see what’s near your current location.

Access: Android; iPhone coming late summer. transcore.com



TQL Freight Finder

What it does: This app enables searches from your current location or elsewhere of available loads, by trailer type and within an adjustable radius of up to 300 miles, via broker Total Quality Logistics.

What they say: The app enables one-touch calling of TQL agents about particular loads, and offers additional searches by equipment type, load date and destination city/state.

Access: Android, iPhone. tql.com



uShip mobile

What it does: This app helps hotshot haulers and other owner-operators find and bid on freight through the online marketplace uShip.

What they say: Benefits include “push notifications,” alerting bidders to when a bid is accepted or declined or questions are asked; full messaging capability between truckers and shippers; navigation capabilities with map views; optional GPS tracking to alert shippers/consignees to arrival times. uShip recently added brokered loads. The app is in partnership with Unwired Nation.

Access: Android, Blackberry, iPhone and others. uship.com


Logs, inspection reports and more

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iLogMiles

What it does: Computer-assisted logging for hours-of-service compliance

What they say: “iLogMiles will generate a PDF template for your daily logbook” that you can print and sign to store. As with other computer-assisted logging apps, ability to print is key to complying with federal record-keeping guidelines.

Access: iPhone. www.bryanhinton.com/apps/ilogmiles

Mobile Warrior iDDL

What it does: Computer-assisted logging for hours of service compliance, as well as vehicle inspection reports.

What they say: Combined with an online storage account ($9.95 monthly and up), the app “will pay for itself by reducing your paperwork alone.” It also allows for signature capture to enable drivers to electronically sign and store online daily logs and inspection reports.

Access: iPhone. www.iddl.com



uDrove

What it does: Computer-assisted logging and vehicle inspection report functionality as well as mileage tracking for taxes and fuel and other expense recording capability.

What they say: The app is free, but a web storage account for $25 monthly completes the package. The company is building its “Gateway” system to be a full-function electronic onboard recorder managed from your smartphone, offering access to critical equipment information in real time to identify cost-reduction opportunities and partial automation of logs for accurate compliance.

Access: iPhone, Android, Blackberry. udrove.com



Xata Turnpike RouteTracker

What it does: The RouteTracker is a multi-function federally certified electronic onboard recorder. It combines an application for smartphone users that connects to the engine ECM via a small device plugged into the ECM, for no additional charge.

What they say: Software package includes access to engine diagnostics and other performance information, real-time tracking capability – useful in alerting consignees/shippers and other customers as to your truck’s arrival time – and automated IFTA data collection and reporting, in addition to the logging capability. Installation time is “less than 10 minutes,” the company says. Combined with web-based storage and tools, the package costs $35 a month.

Access: Most smartphones on Verizon and Sprint networks, including Android-operated. xata.com or eobr.com.



Truck stops, road service, dealers

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Continental Truck Tires Dealer Locator

What it does: Offers quick search for Continental dealers as well as one-touch access to roadside service network.

What they say: The app “makes it easy for drivers of commercial vehicles to find the nearest authorized service provider when they need tire or emergency road service.” National account customers and ContiFleet members can also dial the TrukFix hotline for service with one touch.

Access: iPhone. www.continental-truck.com



Mack Dealer Locator

What it does: Lists and helps connect users to Mack dealers utilizing phone GPS functionality for real-time location tracking, among other features.

What they say: This app will find the nearest dealer based on current location, or by searching an alphabetical list by state or province. Customers can access a dealer’s contact information, address, website and services offered as well.

Access: iPhone. www.macktrucks.com



Michelin Truck Tires Locator

What it does: More than just a dealer locator, this app uses GPS technology to find the nearest Michelin truck tire or service provider, as well as information about that location. Users can dial Michelin OnCall emergency road service directly or search for a provider by category.

What they say: The application can also display service providers based on an entered location other than the current GPS location. Users have the ability to call the service provider or save the provider’s information to their device.

Access: Android, Blackberry, iPhone. www.michelintruck.com



Pilot store locator

What it does: Allows search for Pilot Travel Centers and Flying J locations.

What they say: The app plots nearest locations on a map, then offers turn-by-turn directions. Pilot Travel Center Locator iPhone app searches the immediate area or a specific city, state, or zip and displays the distance to any truck stop.

Access: iPhone. pilottravelcenters.com



Truck Stop Coupons

What it does: This app offers discounts for merchandise and services at truck stops, navigational capabilities and more.

What they say: “The database of truck stops powering this app is the most complete in the country and is updated daily.” This app was developed by Overdrive publisher Randall-Reilly Business Media and Information in collaboration with ProMiles.

Access: Blackberry, iPhone. www.truckstopcoupons.com



Trucker Net

What it does: One-touch access to the U.S.-Canada parts and service network of Daimler Trucks North America, including Freightliner, Sterling, Western Star and Detroit Diesel, as well as TravelCenters of America and Petro locations. Dealer special information is also available.

What they say: Built into the app is DTNA’s Excelerator “On Call” 24/7 support line for “roadside assistance, tow/extraction and monitoring of your repairs to get you back on the road fast.”

Access: Android, iPhone; Blackberry on the way. daimler-trucksnorthamerica.com



TruckSmart

What it does: TruckSmart is a multifunction app offered by TA/Petro providing interactive maps displaying nearby locations, fuel prices, number of available showers and estimates of available parking by location, updated every two hours. It also has special offers at restaurants, travel stores and truck maintenance centers.

What they say: A one-touch call to the RoadSquad national call center captures the user’s precise coordinates when mobile assistance is needed. Phase two of the app, expected this summer, would integrate the UltraOne rewards program, allowing members to check points balance, access shower credits, review past transactions, review UltraExtras benefits achieved, call Customer Service and even reserve a shower.

Access: iPhone, Android. tatravelcenters.com/trucksmart



Truckster

What it does: Truckster, formerly “Truck Stops Pro,” offers location and contact information for truck stops, as well as current fuel prices, amenities and more. Also searchable by location are rest areas, Wal-Mart locations, weigh stations, hotels and SpeedCo locations.

What they say: “This application is designed to be a community effort.” Users can assist the developer in updating the information and adding additional stops. Drivers can post notes about each stop.

Access: iPhone, Android. $3.99, search on iTunes, Android Market

Other tools for business, safety

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DriveReply

What it does: This safety app, available in English and Spanish, triggers your phone to send autoreplies to texts and/or phone calls when you reach speed greater than 10-15 mph. Replies can be personalized and/or disabled if a direct reply is necessary.

What they say: The app includes emergency features enabling certain users to get through to the driver, and its passenger-selection option lets a passenger access the phone’s full functionality while in motion.

Access: Android, Blackberry, iPhone, Windows Mobile. $4.95, drivereply.com



HazRef 2008

What it does: A reference guide to more than 3,000 hazardous materials as identified by the United States Code of Federal Regulations.

What they say: An Acme Truck Lines hauler called this app the “hazmat bible for truckers. It has everything the [hazardous material regulations] book carries, plus more. And it’s very easy to navigate.”

Access: iPhone. Search “HazRef” on iTunes.



Pocket FuelCal

What it does: Created by SWW Freight broker Zach Womack, this app calculates fuel surcharges in total or by mile/kilometer.

What they say: Whether you’re an independent trying to determine what you should charge a shipper or a leased owner-operator double-checking your carrier’s surcharge payment, the PocketFuelCal app makes it easy to determine surcharges by inputting fuel-efficiency, base and current fuel price and lane distance.

Access: iPhone. $1.99, truckingadvantage.com/fuel-surcharges



Trapster

What it does: This app indexes law enforcement speed traps and enforcement cameras with user-provided information.

What they say: “Police want people to drive safely, and telling drivers where the checkpoints are helps them do just that.” The app has more than 11 million users worldwide.

Access: Most platforms. trapster.com



TripPak Mobile

What it does: This app from ACS provides owner-operators leased to participating fleets with the ability to update their trip status, confirm pick-up and delivery with signature capture, and capture trip documents for submission via their smartphones.

What they say: The app provides drivers with a document submission method that is convenient and provides faster pay with state-of-the-art technology, reducing out-of-route miles.

Access: iPhone, Android. trippak.com/mobile.asp

Trucker

What it does: This app aggregates trucking-related news and resources, with a focus on driver-led social media.

What they say: Trucker “is a valuable source for truck drivers, allowing for continued expansion of categories” with user input and review.

Access: iPhone. $0.99, truckerapp.com



Winter Chain Laws

What it does: This app from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is a comprehensive reference guide for chain permissions/prohibitions by state. (OOIDA also offers a free fuel surcharge calculator app.)

What they say: “Know how the state you’re trucking through regulates the use of tire chains and travel.”

Access: Android. ooida.com, via the apps page


Spotlight on EOBR mandate

Today, only the Xata Turnpike app is capable of providing logging functionality on a smartphone to satisfy federal regulations of electronic onboard recorders for hours of service monitoring. As of mid-May, it was one of the only low-cost EOBRs on the market, though others were in the works.

The other smartphone-functional logging devices are computer-assisted logs. Any operator using such will still have to satisfy record-keeping and other requirements of the paper log regulations. Logging programs must be able to be retrieved and printed or emailed/faxed for view on request of law enforcement.

The maker of the uDrove logging solution, functional on the iPhone, Android phones and Blackberries, is building the uDrove Gateway system to be a full-function EOBR, positioned for a potential mandate. uDrove’s will be another low-cost EOBR, with wireless communication between a “black box” connected to the ECM and the operator’s smartphone. As with the Xata Turnpike EOBR, uDrove’s will be managed directly from the smartphone. In addition to logs, critical equipment information will be accessible in real time to identify cost-reduction opportunities and track performance.

The device will be available this year, says uDrove rep Scott Moscrip. “Fleets and owner-operators can start out with the phone [for computer-assisted logging], and if the mandate does come, they don’t have to scrub anything,” he says. “All they have to do is plug the black box into their truck, and it starts talking to the phone.”



Crowd-sourcing on-highway information

The Truckster app’s creator, Leigh Gagnon, was a long-haul driver when he began developing the app for the iPhone, one of the earliest of its kind. When it debuted in 2009, there “was nothing else like it out there,” he says, and Gagnon called it, simply, “Truck Stops.”

Today the app is more than just a truck stop locator with fuel-price information. Gagnon has begun listing services, from SpeedCo and TransFlo locations to alternative parking data and driver-provided information on the open/closed status of weigh stations, input in real time. Gagnon’s also working on an online interface for truck stop operators to make available special offers and information to Truckster users.

Truckster had offered load search capability, partnering with TransCore’s DAT network, but terminated the contract in May when TransCore released a similar app.

Gaghon is now working on his own load board service.



Money/budgeting

• The Chase Mobile app allows a Chase account holder to snap a photo of a check with an iPhone or Android phone and deposit it directly.

• Log mileage and photos of receipts for purchases under $75 for tax record-keeping with the Expensify app, available on most platforms.

• Create a central space for tracking account balances and bill payment due dates with the Pageonce app, available on iPhone, Android and Windows Mobile platforms, as well as for laptop web browsers.

• Create and track your budget with Mint.com or, for $1.99, Ace Budget’s iPhone or Android apps.

• Need cash? The ATM Hunter app by MasterCard for iPhone, Blackberry and Android phones locates the nearest auto-teller.

Unless otherwise noted, the apps included here are free of charge and are available in the iTunes app store for iPhone or in application markets for Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile or other devices. Most iPhone apps are also functional on the iPad.

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