Big Rig Office Setup


A big rig office setup is almost a necessity in the busy trucking industry. Waiting until you get back to a truck stop to be where you can fax contracts back and forth can mean the good loads have been taken before you even get there to do business.

To top it off, you burned a lot of extra fuel to get to a fax machine, paid $2.00 to $3.00 per sheet faxed and then you stomped your hat a few times when the load you contracted to move is located 100 miles in the direction you just traveled from to get to the truck stop.

You know better than anyone that fuel is too expensive to waste trying to chase down a fax machine and a good paying load is first come first served most of the time.

It sounds like it is time for you to set up a big rig office to be more competitive especially if you are an owner operator.

What Does It Take To Set Up A Big Rig Office?

Note: If you are an owner operator, check with your tax accountant to see which Big Rig Office equipment and services listed below are deductible on your taxes as operating expenses. 

Is washing clothes, taking showers and eating meals when you are on the road working tax deductible?

They may be deductible expenses...see the importance of hiring the professional that knows year end and year out. Capitol Hill changes the rules almost annually in Washington.

Truck Office Setup Decisions To Make

There will be several decisions to make about your office setup.

What equipment will you need purchase?

A computer and Trucking Office Software to keep up with your log book, fuel tax tracking, IFTA reporting, load management, address book and more will make your life easier on the road and definitely make it easier when it comes tax time.

Yes, a trucker today using a computer and trucking record software to keep up with expenses will after the learning curve find the tools extremely useful and cost effective

Keep in mind your tax accountant will have to spend less time not having to go through the small pieces of paper you wrote things on as the old way to keep records. That should give you ammunition to negotiate for a cheaper tax preparation fee.

You may already possess some of the items listed below that are important parts of a complete office to communicate from the comforts of your big rig.

Personal Computer - The speed and size will depend on your preferences for items such as:

1. Trucking accounting software or company intranet software.

2. Software needed for faxing capabilities 

3. Microsoft office software document files(word, excel, powerpoint)

4. Games you like to play

5. Photo editing software, amount of pictures you want to store

Add up the requirements of computer power needed and discuss the possible size options with your computer provider. 

Smart AC 150 USB Gray Power Supply Inverter: Plugs into your cigarette lighter to convert the 12 volt battery source into a 120 volt power supply. Note: If you have an APU (auxiliary power unit) on your big rig, you should be able to get a power source from there depending on the unit.  

•Small UPS(uninterruptible power supply) System: Stabilizes power disruptions, brownouts and spikes that could hurt your computer or make you lose whatever data you are creating if the power fluctuates or dies. You should have the small UPS system regardless of the power source used to protect your computer.

•Faxing Setup:Get Paid Quicker For Delivered Shipments - Use Scanner and Fax/Email

You can help speed up getting paid quicker for delivered shipments by faxing signed BOL documents via fax/email services while sitting comfortably in your truck.

By linking your computer with a cellular, Wifi or satellite signal connection service to transmit data, you'll soon be busy sending BOL Documents, bid proposal agreements and other documents.

So how do you handle the hard copy of the Bill of Lading paperwork or any other hard copies of paperwork?

Link your computer to a small compact scanner and compact printer or a compact scanner/printer/copier to be in business if there is a fax enabling software  installed on your computer. 

If you don't have this software, you will need to use a fax / email service provider that will receive your email and convert it into a fax copy.

You can print and resend signed documents straight from your truck at a cost in the long run definitely cheaper than the average of $2.00 to $3.00 or more per sheet typically charged for faxing documents at truck stops.

Plus, the time lost standing in line at the truck stop puts your competition hundreds of miles and promises of earlier delivery's times ahead of you while you wait for your turn to fax the BOL documents to get paid.

Linking the computer, scanner, printer, and fax / email service together with either a cellular, Wifi or satellite signal connection service is the backbone of your truck office. Note: If you don't use the fax / email service, you will need a faxing enabling software for your computer. 

Watch Those Air Time Minutes

It is also very important to seriously think hard about how many air time minutes you may need for the month regardless of the communication access system chosen for your truck office.

Trying to decide how many data minutes are needed in a monthly plan to get the job done without having to pay a penalty for the extra minutes used will be hard to determine in a short time frame.

One strategy plan to consider to help control air time expenses:

  1. Try to go with a plan that allows you to easily change your monthly minute allowance from month to month preferably at mid-month. 
  2. Try to also negotiate the per minute penalty charge for going over the minutes alloted in your monthly plan. 
  3. Try to go with a plan that allows unused minutes rollover each month. This way you can start your account with a higher monthly minute plan than needed to avoid paying the high penalty per minute charge. Then scale down the monthly minute plan as needed. Evaluate actual air time minutes used to conduct business for several months. 

You will be able to better judge the monthly minute allowance needed for your operation. Start faxing your BOL papers today.


Should I Use A Cellular, Satellite Signal or Wi-Fi Access

Cellular Service: Your cell phone should be at a minimum a “dual-mode handset” that provides the Advanced Mobile Phone Service (AMPS) analog band and one digital (800 MHZ) band. recommends using the “tri-mode handset” that provides one analog band and two CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) digital bands.

This handset tri-mode allows you to utilize the digital (Personal Communications Services) 1.9 GHz band and the 800 MHz bands as well as the Analog (AMPS) band that is still being used in the United States especially in rural areas.

Much of the wireless services including two-way digital voice, messaging, and data services operate on the 1.9 GHz band.

Why Both Types of Cellular Phone Signals?

While no cellular service guarantees 100% coverage, the analog signal is good for cell phone calls in many rural areas where digital service may not be available and you might be able to use an analog signal to send a fax depending on fax software but it may take longer.

Keep in mind, digital service is required to access the internet and utilize the wireless data services.

Therefore if you don’t have a cellular digital signal and the analog signal does not allow you to fax the documents, you will be without the internet and wireless data capability until you get into your provider’s cellular service range or to a truck stop to use their Wi-Fi access and/or their fax machine.

How Do You Use Cell Phone As A Modem?

Convert your cell phone into a high speed modem by using a data connection kit to link your computer and cell phone together to send the fax from the cab of your truck. You may also be able to use an analog signal to send a fax but it may take longer.

Don’t Want To Use Your Cell Phone As The Modem?

Cellular data cards are available on the market that you can use by plugging the device into your computer’s PCMCIA or PC Express slot to connect with the internet.

•Satellite Service: Use of satellite access gives you the best chance of constantly maintaining internet and faxing capability anywhere in the United States especially in rural areas such as rest areas as long as you have an unobstructed view of the Southern sky. Some truckers have a PVC pipe mounted on their truck’s right mirror bracket to hold their satellite dish in place when in use. Visit our Big Rig Satellite Page

•Wi-Fi Internet Access: Limited to where the service is available like truck stops, private access providers like a McDonalds or a public source like a designated public zone in a city. Visit our Wi-Fi Locator Page to find access providers.

What Else Is Needed For My Truck Office?

Now that you have selected your computer, small UPS system, email faxing setup and communication provider for your Big Rig Office; remember to select good trucking software to help with managing your finances, maintaining your truck properly and record keeping requirements for tax deduction expenses.

Consider purchasing a Lapinator Plus Insulated Desk   from Skymall to make it easier to use a computer in your big rig.

You are now on the way to doing business from the convenience of your truck.


Make Living Easier and Cheaper On The Road?

The only things missing that could make your new Big Rig Office even better is that hot cup of coffee and warm food that you could be having if your truck was equipped with an auxiliary power unit(APU) that would provide a 120 volt AC power and cooling/heating without having to waste fuel idling your big rig.


Having an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) on your big rig will do the following for you by not idling your main engine

  • Increase profit by possibly extending the main engine’s life by approximately 100,000 miles 
  • Increase profit by reducing fuel consumption 
  • Increase profit by not paying for ancillary services at truck stops 
  • Increase profit by reducing down time 
  • Decrease harmful emissions 
  • Save money by being able to run more appliances for food preparation 

We’ve heard truckers can save an average of $200 a week in fuel expenses by not burning fuel while idling.

That sounds like keeping an average of $10K annually in your pocket while you sit in your cool Big Rig Office drinking hot coffee. Do the math with an Auxiliary Power Unit(APU) provider and see how much you can possibly save.

Of course you have to pay for the APU unit but again check with your tax accountant to see if it is a tax deductible and depreciable expense. It may be a whole lot cheaper than you think while making life on the road a little more bearable.

Enjoy your new Big Rig Office and Find Some Good Paying Loads!