Just Completed Schneider Bulk Tanker Training In Houston

Topic 21086 | Page 1

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Jack B.'s Comment
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Hey folks, I just successfully completed Bulk Tanker training for Schneider in Houston, Texas. I'd be happy to answer any questions anyone has about the training. I had previously been driving Dry Van for Schneider so I figured I knew what to expect, more or less.

I came in as an experienced hire, so I know more about that than the inexperienced class. It's roughly the same except the inexperienced has an extra week of classroom and driving with the instructors, and they also go out for an extra week on the road with their trainers.

First and foremost, let me say that the training is not as easy as it sounds. Schneider is serious about training and safety, and they will weed out drivers they think will be unsafe. I was the only person in my group who actually completed the training successfully - everyone else was kicked out or quit. Transporting and unloading hazardous chemicals is serious business.

For experienced hires it is roughly 3 weeks of training. The first day they do the medical and a physical work screen. For the physical, they make you do a variety of tasks like stair stepping, walking on a balance beam (backwards, even), carrying around heavy loads, lifting weights above your head, etc. They measure your heart rate after every exercise, and if it's over the limit for your age, you are sent home. If you fall off the balance beam, you are sent home. It sounds easy, but they make you do the balance beam last, when your legs are already tired from the other exercises. One guy from our group fell off, and another couldn't kneel down on it, because he had a knee injury. (he was cut, too, but he came back 2 weeks later)

The second day they outfit you with basic protection equipment and take you out to a tanker trailer. They make everyone climb on top of the tanker and walk end to end. Anyone who won't do it is sent home. Some people don't realize they are afraid of heights until you actually get up there. To be honest, it is scary the first few times you do it - especially since everyone is watching you. If you have average balance you will be fine. I was so nervous the first time that I considered quitting, but I didn't want to chicken out in front of all the other guys. Now I get up on top and it doesn't bother me that much, but I am still really cautious.

The rest of the first week is mostly classroom time. You sit through a lot of lectures and watch a bunch of videos that have tests. On Friday and Saturday you will do two full days of unloading training. One day is how to unload with the hydraulic pump, the other day is unloading with the air compressor. If you are a super fit, in shape person, this probably won't be that difficult. I am a bit overweight and in not that great of shape. To be honest, it was pretty brutal for me. It was two full days of standing out in warm temps with 90% humidity wearing long sleeves and pants, safety vest, hardhat, dragging 30 lb hoses around, climbing up and down the trailer. One guy from our group quit after that first Friday. After the first time I completed my pump unload, I was completely soaked through with sweat - it was like I had walked into a shower with my clothes on.

After that we did a couple more days of classroom time, and then we went out with our trainers after passing a preliminary road test. Most experienced hires go out with a local trainer, which is awesome because you get back to the hotel every night - no sleeping in the truck with a stranger. I did Wed-Sat with my TE, and we started at 4:30am every morning. It was mostly one load a day, picking up an empty tanker at the tank wash and getting loaded around Houston or Freeport, then driving across town and getting an unload. I lucked out and got a really great TE. He showed me a ton of stuff, a lot of small details about tankers in general and how to deal with these big refineries.

The last week are SQTs (aka final testing). The first day of SQT we did a bit of a recap, no testing. Our instructor made us do a few unloads to see how we performed. The second day we did our unloading testing for pump and air in the morning, and then in the afternoon we had a test on Trip Planning. Unfortunately, the only other guy left in my group failed both the unloading tests and also the Trip Planning test. He was sent home on the second to last day of training. The 3rd day of SQT I did my final road test w/ a pretrip, coupling, driving around Houston, and then backing in the yard. I passed everything with flying effing carpets.

Also, you have to be clean shaven and cannot wear contacts. I've had a mustache/goatee and beard for the past 20 years so this is a big change for me. You can have a mustache that goes the length of your lips, that's it.

The hotel provides breakfast, and they get Subway every day at the OC. (salad or sandwich) I've just eaten Subway every day for 3 weeks and I am totally over it, totally. The hotel is actually pretty nice. No complaints there. I lucked out again because my original roommate got sent home on the first day for a medical issue so I had a single room my entire time there except for the first day. (you will probably have a roommate)

If the training sounds intimidating or too strenuous, keep in mind that if an overweight guy can do it, you probably can too. I'm just an average guy.

Good luck and I'd be happy to answer any questions.

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.

DWI:

Driving While Intoxicated

OC's Comment
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Bulk tanker sounds very interesting, thx alot for all the great info.

Susan D. 's Comment
member avatar

Jack, I am so glad you're sharing this. Occasionally someone in CDL school will mention wanting to start out with tankers... those drivers can benefit from your training experience. This was for dry bulk training? How many people originally began in your tanker training class.

Congratulations for making the grade. I know it was tough.

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CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Susan, Schneider no longer pulls dry bulk tankers... it's all liquid chemicals now.

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