Trucking is an integral part of many businesses, whether in the U.S. or in any other country. In 2019 alone, gross trucking revenue was nearly $800 billion, representing 81% of all freight traffic in the country, and the number of truck drivers in the U.S. already exceeds 3.5 million. Aren't those impressive numbers?
Using a trucking app means managing your trucking operations more wisely and profitably and increasing your profits. Conversely, poorly managed operations can cost businesses money because it is difficult to properly control fuel and inventory as well as optimize routes and drivers. These are the reasons why it's worth hiring app developers to build a trucking app that will not only increase your profits and productivity but also help ensure the safety of your cargo and drivers.
For these same reasons, our client approached us to develop a trucking app. In this case study, we will talk not only about the work done by our dedicated software development team but also about what a trucking app is and what its key features and business benefits are.
What exactly is a trucking app?
Trucking apps provide everything a business and a driver could need to get the job done, from trucking mediation to document and receipt management. These apps are used to maximize the value of each scheduled trip, streamline the daily vehicle inspection process and improve trucking efficiency, and transform the trucking industry as a whole.
The trucking app is based on the idea of a digital broker who acts as an intermediary and brings together shippers and carriers. Trucking apps can be designed for different users with different levels of access to data and app features. As a rule, such trucking apps are designed for drivers, fleet managers, freight managers and administrators.
How does a trucking app work?
Each user utilizes the features of the trucking app on their own and for their specific purposes. For example, the shipper uses their part of the application to enter the following information:
- Cargo type, weight and size;
- Pickup and delivery location;
- Delivery date.
Once the booking is uploaded to the app, the driver sees it and can reject or accept it. The app acts as an intermediary platform and bills the shipper after the driver accepts the order and picks it up. The cost depends on the delivery distance and the parameters of the shipment. The driver gets paid after the shipment is delivered to the destination.
Why do you need a trucking app?
Trucking companies can vary in size and business goals. Some need manual capabilities, while others need an automated freight order matching function, so developing a trucking app requires a customized approach to ensure that the final product best meets business needs. Below are the top reasons to hire software developers to create your trucking app.
When developing a trucking app, the carrier's slightest wishes regarding system features and options are considered. You may or may not want to add an admin panel, multi-user authentication, additional dashboards, or very narrow, business-specific features.
You can monetize the platform by charging for the use of its functionality, ranging from standard options to advanced or additional ones.
Controlling and increasing profits
One of the goals of logistics software development is to control the delivery process. That's why investing in staff augmentation to create a trucking application should pay off for the business in terms of being able to control the delivery process, making it safer and more reliable.
Reducing fuel costs
Almost the largest expense item is fuel. An improved freight management system will save on the volume and cost of fuel and thereby optimize business processes.
What’s the idea of the project?
Transportation management used to be complicated by lots of calls, emails and errors, unnecessary costs, and even lost shipments and broken agreements with partners. But a solution to the problem was found, and it was the introduction of the transportation management tools. Not only did they eliminate tedious paperwork, but they also reduced the risk of errors, reduced costs, and simplified the delivery process.
Thanks to trucking applications, the shippers, for instance, can have peace of mind about their cargo because they can track its movement in real-time, and drivers, in turn, are aware of the traffic situation and can provide more detailed reports, reducing the risk of misunderstandings or gaps in knowledge about the trip.
Driven by the idea of simplifying the transportation management process and significantly reducing costs, we developed a feature-rich trucking app for one of our clients.
As dedicated app developers, we were tasked with equipping the software solution with features such as:
- GPS tracking;
- ELD compliance;
- Intelligent fleet management;
- Ensuring safe driving on the road, avoiding rush hours, and more.
This trucking app, created to keep you running, is essential if you plan to strengthen your business. If you want to know exactly how this trucking app was created and what its features and capabilities are, keep reading.
Project structure of the trucking app
Below you will find detailed information about what the project structure looks like and what technologies were used to develop and implement the trucking application.
To get the right idea of the future trucking application and implement it correctly, we needed to onboard a development team consisting of the following specialists:
- 1 Business Analyst (BA)
- 1 Project manager (PM)
- 2 UI/UX designers
- 3 Front-end engineers
- 2 Quality Assurance Engineers (QA)
- 3 Back-end engineers
As our first-hand experience shows, the Agile project management methodology proved to be the most effective, as it helped us with the following tasks:
- Any customer changes and suggestions were easily adapted to the current workflow, no matter what stage it was at;
- With the changes introduced, the product got improved throughout the development process;
- Instead of being guided by a strict sequence of steps in the development process, we decided to focus on results that were a clear indication of the work done.
It took us 24 sprints (2 per month) to create the trucking app. The agile project management approach allowed us to gradually implement a feature-rich application that met both the needs of the business and the market as a whole.
The first step in developing a trucking application is the Product Discovery phase, where the Business Analyst gathers requirements for the future product and prepares a document with functional specifications for the application. Before this, the Business Analyst makes sure that the requirements specified by the customer match how the trucking application should look and work, and that the team's vision matches the customer's vision.
The software development team structure and the specific roles of its members are determined only after all the requirements have been collected and analyzed. Therefore, to develop the application as accurately and market-specific as possible, the team was expanded with the expertise of a fleet manager, a CFO and an administrator. This allowed the following to be covered:
- Fleet and shipment management;
- Trip and product delivery tracking;
- Billing and invoice management;
- Integration with payment and reporting tools;
- Setting up workflows related to booking requests, approvals, and follow-up actions.
Guided by the documentation and outlined action plan, the Project Manager provided the customer with a roadmap of the trucking application development process and a rough cost estimate. After the customer's approval, the action plan (Backlog) was broken down into two-week sprints, during which we were able to implement each Backlog item step by step. The Project Manager was responsible for keeping the client fully informed of progress, delivering results, meeting deadlines, and reporting to all stakeholders.
Each sprint involved close cooperation between developers and QA engineers, which allowed us to keep the quality of the product under control throughout the development process. When no problems or bugs were found, the application was launched and introduced to end-users.
This trucking app is designed for four user roles:
- Freight Manager;
- Fleet Manager;
This trucking app can be accessed from desktop and mobile devices, which was done by our development team intentionally to make it easy for each single user to utilize the app's features. Let's take a look at what features are available for each user role and in each module of the app (desktop or mobile).
Let's take a look at what the app can do for drivers. The idea behind the trucking app for drivers is to connect the app's hardware to the car's diagnostic port for logging, inspecting, texting, and so on.
Once you register, you'll be able to select the type of vehicle you normally use as a driver, enter your DOT number, confirm your carrier contract and payment terms, add additional drivers, and confirm all actions in the app. Once you have completed the registration process, you will be able to use all of the features of this app in full.
On the left side inside the driver's dashboard, you'll see a navigation bar with sections such as:
- DOT Inspection;
At the bottom of the screen is a panel with three options:
- My Loads;
Let's take a look at some of the options available to drivers in this app.
One of the primary features of the trucking application is the DOT Inspection mode. DOT inspections are conducted by the Department of Transportation to make sure that all Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) parts and components are in good condition, safe for use, and functioning properly.
By going to this section, you can perform the inspection and then email or display the logs.
This section is used by drivers to perform vehicle inspections, keep logs, and send messages. Here drivers can specify the vehicle and in the Status section specify ON for Started or OFF for Finished. The status can be changed several times during the day. Once the ON status is specified, the driver tracking system will automatically start a countdown. As long as the driver is ON, the trucking application system continues to record miles and time.
This system counts down the time and distance the driver has left to travel and also monitors compliance with traffic rules and laws in the area involved (the system is initially paired with this data). This allows the system to track possible violations and monitor time/speed, sending appropriate warnings to the driver and providing assurance that drivers are acting by traffic rules.
At the end of the day, each driver can sign their logbook online.
The main menu bar is located at the bottom of the application screen. You can navigate to the Book icon and tap it to go to the section with available shipments for pickup. They are displayed based on your GPS location.
Once a shipment is selected, you get to know its details and confirm the booking or not.
This section contains all information related to completed and scheduled loads. If you have any questions, you can click on the support icon in the right corner to contact the platform's support team and get your problem solved.
Below are some features provided for the Driver Dashboard within the app:
- Upload and save documents;
- Receive and accept requests;
- Contact support;
- Booking management;
- Select vehicle type;
- Rescheduling of pickup and drop-off dates;
- View real-time trip routes and more.
Freight Manager dashboard
After logging in (using your phone number or corporate email), you will see a left-hand menu with the following sections available to navigate:
- My Shipments;
Let's have a closer look at some of them.
Here you can find and select a carrier by specifying Pickup Address and Drop off Location and selecting the appropriate mode of transport depending on the cargo being shipped and the distance of the trip. Also at this stage you can get an estimate of the cost of a likely shipment.
After selecting a vehicle, you will be taken to the page with driver and trip information. If you want to book a trip, click the Book now button at the bottom of the screen.
By going to this section, you will have access to the shipment history. You can find both Active shipments along with shipment details and those Completed.
When you click on each shipment, you will get shipment details:
- Bill details along with Payment mode and Total amount of the deal;
- Driver along with contacts to use;
- Pick time and Drop time;
- Truck and cargo details;
- Freight tracking.
With this trucking app, trucking managers can find drivers and keep track of how their cargo is being transported. The Freight Managers app module is equipped with the following features:
- Two-click registration;
- Easy payment process;
- Real-time freight tracking;
- Reviews and ratings.
Fleet Manager dashboard
When you enter this dashboard, you will see the Overview Dashboard in front of you with the main menu on the left side of the screen. The left side menu provides access to the main sections such as:
- Drivers: Log, Documents, Messages, Location History;
- Vehicles: IFTA (International Fuel Tax Agreement), DVIRs (Driver Vehicle Inspection Report), Location History, ELD, Geofencing, Utilization.
Let's take a look at some of these to get an idea of what Fleet Manager Dashboard is all about.
By logging in as a Fleet manager, you can see an overview of all your fleet activity over the last month, but you can also specify a particular period.
The following blocks are displayed:
- Logbook summary with Compliance, Compliant logs, and Logs with errors;
- Vehicle Utilizations with data on total vehicle utilization rate (%), and with data on idle time and driving time (hours, minutes, seconds);
- The ELD block is represented by statistics on how well the EDL inspection has been performed over the past 6 months with identified driving time and unidentified driving time (hours, minutes, seconds).
By clicking on this tab, you will see a list of all drivers together with their status and location specified. For clarity, a map is displayed next to it.
The Logbook is connected to ELD while logging driving times. You can use it to view the driver's logs in real-time, tracking when speeds are low or high, and send the driver an appropriate warning or message to prevent a possible violation. This feature is available right on the Logs dashboard. For example, your driver may forget to take a break, and it's your job to remind him or her to fill the gap.
In this section you can see all the information about each driver's job, structured by category:
- Driver (First and Last name of the driver);
- Date (you can pick any date you are interested in);
- Hours worked;
- Form and Manner violations;
You can get this data without contacting the driver.
Under Location history, you can see where your driver is at the moment, as well as where they have been on any given day or minute in the past.
To stay on the same page with your drivers, you can contact each driver or group of drivers in real-time and request their status, location, traffic situation, if they have any questions, and more. You can do this with an easy-to-navigate Messages section.
This section shows how much distance your fleet traveled, how much fuel was purchased, when, and how much it cost. All this data is structured by columns in the table:
- Fuel amount;
- Fuel price;
- Date of purchase.
For convenience, you can change the date to get the most specific data possible.
The Admin Dashboard is packed with many features. When you log in to the admin dashboard, you have access to managing all of your trucking and shipping-related resources in one place.
The left-hand menu gives you access to sections such as:
- Billing & invoice.
Let's take a look at some of these sections.
When you go to the Dashboard page, you will get a summary of key insights about the platform. Right in front of you will be a screen where all the information is structured by tabs:
- Drivers: Online, Offline, Cancelled Trips, Idle Trips, Total Trips, Fuel Spent, Unassigned Trips;
- Bookings: Total Bookings, Cancelled Bookings, Revenue, App Commission, Queued bookings;
- Details: Emergency Requests, Form and Manner, DVIR.
All of this data is displayed in numbers.
In the Booking section, you can manage deals between participants in the process. For example, you can view the details of the shipper, driver, and receiver (address, cell phone number, etc.).
In this section, you can set up integrations and keep track of which services have been activated and how much you paid for them.
In the Reports section, you can track the work of each system user. For example, you can see a report on operating costs, i.e. how much money was spent on fleet maintenance for the selected period.
All of this makes the use of the trucking app clear and the business results measurable and high.
Key features of the trucking app
The following are key features of trucking apps that we have added to the trucking app we developed for our customer, and which can also be included in similar apps:
- GPS tracking to track drivers and vehicles in real-time: With this feature, drivers get detailed information about the optimal route and traffic congestion, and the freight managers get an idea of the location of the shipment and risk mitigation options;
- ELD (Electronic Logging Device) compliance: this means that commercial trucking participants subject to the ELD Final Rule will be required to use electronic logging devices or ELDs;
- AI-driven fuel control, as well as a map of service stations, gas stations and fuel prices are presented here to offer the driver the stations with the lowest cost of service and fuel;
- An AI-based solution to reduce repair costs and predict potential problems;
- Payment functionality: It should be possible to pay delivery fees directly from the app, with multiple payment methods available, such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, e-wallets and credit cards, to ensure a seamless user experience;
- Trip history: This option allows you to access key details of previous trips, thus reducing paperwork and saving time;
- Built-in messaging feature: For seamless communication via instant messaging, it makes sense to build in the ability to exchange messages between trucking process participants;
- Safe driving through AI-driven computer vision to detect unsafe driving;
- Smooth workflow providing integrated connection between the back office and drivers;
- Geo-referencing to offer carriers new orders based on their current location.
Benefits of the trucking app
Let's take a look at the benefits of a trucking app for your business:
- Reduced time: Instead of wasting time searching for a truck or shipper, you can turn to a digital intermediary and shorten the path from request to delivery;
- Increased profits: With a trucking app, all the trucks in your fleet will be loaded and there will be no downtime, allowing you to manage your assets wisely and increase the value of each mile;
- Improved customer experience: The trucking app generally improves the entire chain of interaction between the parties, as the fleet owner gets loyal customers, and shippers, in turn, get the opportunity to deliver their goods on time to grateful customers, which increases the number of new customers to all;
- Logging is getting more convenient: All paperwork can now be done in one app, which provides instant access to invoices, bills, expenses, reports, etc;
- Shipments tracking along with timely alerts: With this app, everyone involved in freight shipments will be notified about the status of every operation, and customers will be able to track in real-time where their parcels are now;
- Payments and checks in one place: The history of all payment transactions will be structured and saved in the app and available with just a couple of clicks.
Bottom Line: Need to track your trucking processes?
Only by having a state-of-the-art trucking app at your disposal can you gain access to a huge number of undeniable benefits that will automate business processes, reduce operating costs, improve overall efficiency and prevent errors in operations. On one hand, a trucking app is a one-stop solution, but on the other hand, it is highly customizable and can be tailored to the needs of your specific business. When developed properly, such an app can be of great benefit to your business, regardless of its purpose. To get a customized trucking app, it's important to consider all the benefits and features the software offers beforehand, as well as to hire app developers properly.
Want to learn more about developing a trucking app with the help of a dedicated team of engineers? Please email us so that we can answer your question in detail with your business needs in mind.