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My Swift Adventure Continues..... Orientation and Mentor Phase

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G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Roadpilot wrote:

Like I said, I wanted to go to the refrigerated side so initially I was set up with a refrigerated trainer. However he was on a Target dedicated account and I really did not want to be stuck running the same loads on the same areas when I was eventually gonna be going over the road , so I was switched to a mentor who is on the dry van side.

Interesting point. I respect your decision Roadpilot, I am sure it will work out for you. However I'd like to offer a different perspective on Target; or any Dedicated Retail Account that entails Distribution Center (DC) to store delivery. Most regional Target and Walmart (my assignment) DCs have 100 plus retail stores and probably at least 2 dozen vendor backhauls within their territory. My firsthand experience with Walmart; after 12 months there were still stores I hadn't visited. At this point I have been to all of them, however the territory ebbs & flows, changes based on the distribution channel. There are adds and deletes quarterly. My point, I might retrace the same delivery route (from first stop to fifth stop) only 2-3 times per month. You might think it becomes routine and monotonous, but what I have found to be true is an established list of favorites, stores and routes that maximize earning potential. That's another perspective.

The other less obvious factor, your Close-Quarter skills are tested more frequently and consistently on a retail Dedicated account than they would be OTR. On average I back 5-6 times per day, occasionally more. In 6 weeks with a mentor assigned to a Target account, you will likely perform an equivalent number of backs in less than half the time required if training OTR. Translates into far more real-world practice, you will develop your skills faster.

Please do not misunderstand, absolutely nothing wrong with the decision path you chose. This perspective might be beneficial to a student-driver facing a similar set of circumstances in the future by offering more data-points.

8-Speed vs. 10-speed, in a couple of days you'll forget all about the 10-speed pattern.

Good luck!

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Over The Road:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Roadpilot's Comment
member avatar

Roadpilot wrote:

double-quotes-start.png

Like I said, I wanted to go to the refrigerated side so initially I was set up with a refrigerated trainer. However he was on a Target dedicated account and I really did not want to be stuck running the same loads on the same areas when I was eventually gonna be going over the road , so I was switched to a mentor who is on the dry van side.

double-quotes-end.png

Interesting point. I respect your decision Roadpilot, I am sure it will work out for you. However I'd like to offer a different perspective on Target; or any Dedicated Retail Account that entails Distribution Center (DC) to store delivery. Most regional Target and Walmart (my assignment) DCs have 100 plus retail stores and probably at least 2 dozen vendor backhauls within their territory. My firsthand experience with Walmart; after 12 months there were still stores I hadn't visited. At this point I have been to all of them, however the territory ebbs & flows, changes based on the distribution channel. There are adds and deletes quarterly. My point, I might retrace the same delivery route (from first stop to fifth stop) only 2-3 times per month. You might think it becomes routine and monotonous, but what I have found to be true is an established list of favorites, stores and routes that maximize earning potential. That's another perspective.

The other less obvious factor, your Close-Quarter skills are tested more frequently and consistently on a retail Dedicated account than they would be OTR. On average I back 5-6 times per day, occasionally more. In 6 weeks with a mentor assigned to a Target account, you will likely perform an equivalent number of backs in less than half the time required if training OTR. Translates into far more real-world practice, you will develop your skills faster.

Please do not misunderstand, absolutely nothing wrong with the decision path you chose. This perspective might be beneficial to a student-driver facing a similar set of circumstances in the future by offering more data-points.

8-Speed vs. 10-speed, in a couple of days you'll forget all about the 10-speed pattern.

Good luck!

G-Town, Thanks for your insight on the dedicated accounts. I'll be 100% honest, I didn't even think about the Close Quarter backing. I was just thinking about the hills going out West and I really wanted to do that with a mentor next to me rather than being thrown to the wolves once I got solo. Now I'm thinking I may have missed a better opportunity but I'll make the best of what I have now.

Well today was my first day behind the wheel. We left the TA around 8am and headed out. After a little bit of a stumble with shifting ( I hadn't driven since last Wednesday) we got going pretty well. We were gonna try and make it all the way down to Commerce tonight and stay at the nearby TA but the traffic backup in Asheville getting on to 26 from 40 and then the lane closures on 26 pretty much killed that idea. We pulled into the Love's in Fair Play,SC and found a spot (Trucker's Path is awesome) with on 2mins left on my drive clock. Alot closer than we planned it but of course they had 2 closed on 85 because they were setting up for night work. So I got a real education on how to run the hills and how to have a Plan A,B,C, etc. Ran a total of 561 miles for today and considering the terrain and my general newness to running the truck I'm pleased with it. My shifting is getting better, there are still some rough spots but my mentor is confident that I'll be get it by the time my 200hrs are up. I cannot be more thankful that I got him, he has over a decade of experience and while he has a laid back personality he is able to get his knowledge across to me with no problem. Because we are only about 40 miles from the receiver we can sleep in a bit tomorrow and still make our appointment time, it's a live unload so how long it takes there can go either way, hopefully we get out in time to get dispatched on another load to keep us rolling over the weekend.

Thanks for reading and I'll update when I can

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Over The Road:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Michael B.'s Comment
member avatar

Roadpilot , what the necessities did you take on your trip out of curiousity?

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Michael asked:

Roadpilot , what the necessities did you take on your trip out of curiousity?

Michael something to read while waiting for RoadPilot's reply...

Things to pack for Road Training

Roadpilot's Comment
member avatar

I basically brought everything listed in the link G-Town provided. I brought about 14 days of clothes though, I mostly brought T-shirts so they take up less space. Swift will also send you a list of items you want to have. Try not to have anymore than one duffel and another bag like a backpack. Some trainers don't have a lot of space, again this is where I'm lucky....my trainer has given me 2 draws and a cubby hole with is awesome but I'm still bunking with my duffel :). I've seen guys bring alot of stuff and when the mentor picks them up it becomes an issue, you don't want to start off a 4-6 week trip off on the wrong foot

I also brought my tablet because I have some books downloaded to it, and I stuffed a couple paperbacks in my duffel as well to pass the time. Also since my phone has a mobile hotspot I hopefully will be able to watch my assignments on the Swift University site on that rather on my phone. I would also recommend if you can swing it financially to get an unlimited plan, just because WiFi at the truck stops is spotty depending on where you are.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Roadpilot wrote:

G-Town, Thanks for your insight on the dedicated accounts. I'll be 100% honest, I didn't even think about the Close Quarter backing. I was just thinking about the hills going out West and I really wanted to do that with a mentor next to me rather than being thrown to the wolves once I got solo. Now I'm thinking I may have missed a better opportunity but I'll make the best of what I have now.

RP. Sir, this is an excellent, well thought out reply and turned out to be a very good exchange, valuable to anyone taking the time to read it. Based on the details of the above, I have no doubt you made the right decision. Please do not second guess yourself on my behalf. I think you got it right. Kudos to you.

When I started there were two things that scared the color out of my face;

- Driving in the snow

and

- Driving under a load in the mountains

Not much more needs to be said.

Roadpilot's Comment
member avatar

Thanks for reaffirming my decision G-Town. My main goal is just to be as proficient at all areas for the job when it comes time for me to upgrade. Maybe that's unrealistic but I want to be able to feel confident with what I'm doing when I get turned loose.

Well today was a mix of easy and tough work. We left the truck stop about 90 mins before our appointment time as we still had about 40 miles to go and I wanted to be ahead of the game because I know how my luck runs, and it did not disappoint. I missed the turn to the receiver. It wasn't too bad to get turned around but I was pretty upset with myself. In any case we still were about 30mins early to the receiver. We got a door right away and started getting unloaded. In the meantime we got set up with a preplan that was gonna be unacceptable time/distance wise so after double checking our trip plan we contacted my mentor's DM. The load actually has a pretty wide window as it's a drop and hook so we accepted it and after we were done unloaded we headed to our next pick up.

The ride to the shipper was pretty interesting as it was pretty much all state roads. I got some good practice on speed control and shifting going through all the small towns. We got the the shipper pretty much on time and got a door right away. Pretty good luck right? Nope they decided after loading it a 1/3 of the way to move us to another door on the other side of the building. So I got an additional back out of the deal. Once loaded and the BOL in hand we headed north. It was a pretty decent ride, I was glad to come through Charlotte after rush hour but even at 7pm it was still slow in spots. My mentor shared that he likes the fact that I have the knowledge from driving the bus to look in the distance for traffic because normally with a trainee he's still white knuckling it telling them to slow down.

We made it to the Love's in Salisbury NC without incident. This was a planned fuel stop and also are planned stop for the night, so after fueling we started the hunt for a spot. I found a easy pull through but then got informed by my mentor that it wasn't a real spot but an invention of other drivers "creative parking" so we pulled around to find a back in spot. Once we found one and I got angled he helped me get myself into the spot. And this is where I can say not all the other drivers are gonna be your friend. I had one guy blow his horn 3-4 times because he was in a rush, and it put pressure on me to get it done so while I got it in it wasn't a pretty sight. My mentor was pretty ticked at the guy and let me know not to rush, it's my butt if I hit something.

After a nice hot shower and a decent meal I'm beat. Because of the live unload and load I didn't do too many miles today, only about 350. Tomorrow will be my first experience with a Walmart DC, hopefully because it's just a drop and hook it'll be pretty painless, but again I know how my luck runs so I'm not gonna hold my breath.

Everybody have a safe night and I'll catch you all on the flip side

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Michael B.'s Comment
member avatar

G town , thanks for the link seems like most things I pack when I go on a road trip anyways except I have heavier rated sleeping bags but be no problem in the packing section, since i am also going to use those fold over vacuum bags for clothes blankets etc.

Michael asked:

double-quotes-start.png

Roadpilot , what the necessities did you take on your trip out of curiousity?

double-quotes-end.png

Michael something to read while waiting for RoadPilot's reply...

Things to pack for Road Training

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Roadpilot's Comment
member avatar

Well I'll finally give you guys a update on how we've been rolling.

After our night in Salisbury NC we continued to head north to our drop off in at the Walmart DC in Sutherland VA. On the way we got two are pre plans, one from another Walmart DC to upstate NY and then a load from PA to TX. The timing on the first one was totally unachievable, so before declining it my mentor called his DM and we found out the delivery time actually had a window of delivery time rather than a hard appointment time. As it became achievable we accepted both pre plans.

So once we dropped and hooked in Sutherland we headed to another Walmart DC outside of Chesapeake did another drop and hook , weighed the load then headed north. We decided to call in a night in Ashland VA because we both wanted a shower after 2 drop and hooks and we both could live with a early start the next morning.

The next morning we got an early start and continued heading northbound, taking 2 quick breaks and a 30 min break at the Swift terminal in Jonestown and dropped off about an hour before the end of the delivery window. After another dropping off that trailer and picking up an "MT" we swapped seats as I only had a hour of drive time left and we wanted to take our 10hrs at the Petro in Scranton which is only about 40mi away. And since we have a mid morning pick up time we were able to sleep in which was nice.

So right now I'm relaxing in the drivers lounge in the Petro, in another 1/2 we'll pretrip and head to our pickup and head down to San Marcos TX.

I'm feel 100% comfortable with driving the truck, 75% on shifting and probably 60% on my backing skills. I tend to be very critical of my mistakes so I'm probably doing better than I perceive but I want to be proficient at what I'm doing by the time I go solo.

I can tell you I love the T680 we have. I would love one as my solo truck but I think they are mostly lease trucks, I don't see too many company ones, I was shocked my mentor had one because he's a company driver.

And a piece of advice, comfortable clothes is a must. I'm pretty much a T-shirt and jeans guy but I'm learning that 9-10 of seat time in jeans isn't all that comfortable. I'll probably invest in some track pants for driving days and only wear jeans when I'm at a customer or terminal.

I'll update again when I can, have a great Monday folks!

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

Roadpilot's Comment
member avatar

Well I guess I should update this huh?

Well to pick up where I left off we finished the Amazon load down to San Marcos without any problems. Initially we had a preplan to bobtail to Houston to pick up a load to El Paso but things got switched around and we ended up picking up a load in nearby San Antonio to Nebraska. Needless to say both my mentor and I were happy we didn't have to deadhead 3 hours bobtail.

Now that I have over 50hrs behind the wheel were are now in team status and running team loads. I can honestly say after this I will never team again and it's not because of my mentor. For the past 10+ years of driving the bus I've trained myself to not sleep in/on a moving vehicle, so it's extremely hard for me to sleep when it's my turn to rest. It's only for 150 hrs and I'm banging out that time quickly.....I just can't wait for my own truck.

Well from Nebraska we did a drop and hook , picked up another trailer from the customer we dropped off at and we are headed up to my old stomping grounds of Connecticut. Then we are preplanned on a FedEx load from Newark to Detroit. After that is our DM's guess....personally I'm hoping to get out west.

I'm getting a lot more comfortable with the running the truck. I love this KW, I would kill to get one as my solo truck but there doesn't seem to be too many company KWs, they seem to offer these more to the lease operators. My mentor says I'm 99% likely to get a 2015/16 Freightliner which I feel is a bit of a step down but it is what it is.

If we can keep running the way we are I'll probably have my 200hrs within the next three weeks. Since I've gotten on my mentor's truck I've only driven less than 500 miles a day once, we had both a live load and unload that day. Today I 620 miles which for a 62mph truck isn't bad.

I'll try to update this as much as I can. Like I said, we are being run hard, my mentor is a platinum level driver so it seems to me that they make sure to keep him moving. Between that and the sketchy cell service in places (Nebraska I'm looking at you! Lol) I'll get to this as much as I can.

Now time to jump in the bunk and try to get some kind of sleep

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

Deadhead:

To drive with an empty trailer. After delivering your load you will deadhead to a shipper to pick up your next load.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

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