Walmart Private Fleet

Topic 26933 | Page 5

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G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Rob asks...

Turtle,

Thanks for the update.

Seems like you don't have as much "free time" as you did flatbedding?

Rob.

Although I’ve never been a flatbedder, I can attest running Walmart is a churn, a successful driver must constantly hustle.

When we are dispatched with a 5-stop 350 mile reefer run, they usually want us to return to the DC during the same shift, either empty or with a backhaul. Many times I’ve performed a post trip after reaching 14 hours of on-duty time.

I’ll be interested to read Turtle’s reply. His perspective going-in, is likely different from mine. I had 3 months of OTR before committing to Walmart Dedicated. Basically it’s all I know.

None the less, congratulations to Turtle for achieving solo status with WMPF. When our paths cross, and I’m sure they eventually will, we’ll definitely snap a few photos for the forum.

Peace.

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Turtle's Comment
member avatar
Have you had the "pleasure" of telling vendors (soda, beer, etc.) You were jumping in front of them for the dock?

No I haven't had to do that yet, but I was taught in training that Walmart trucks do have priority. It'll be hard for me to do jump ahead of someone. But in the big picture it serves Walmart in the most efficient way possible. That is the ultimate goal after all.

Have you found it difficult to keep track of them taking the correct pallets and reloading the ones that aren't theres?

Nope, because I stand on the dock and watch them as they do it. This helps me in two ways:

First, I can keep an accurate track of everything that comes on and off my truck.

Second, I can gently prod them along while trying to appear helpful. Assisting where I can only speeds up the process, so that I can roll on to my next stop that much quicker. Sometimes the dockworkers just needs a friendly word or two to lighten their day. That can go a long way towards getting me out of there sooner.

Seems like you don't have as much "free time" as you did flatbedding?

There's hardly any free time at all anymore during the day. It's kind of a night and day difference from the OTR life. Before, there was always some time while loading/unloading, breaking, waiting for appt times, etc. But now it's a constant flow of delivering, then returning to a DC for more, rinse repeat. Free wait times at stores, DCs, and vendors are practically non-existent. I show up, do what I gotta do, and boogie out of there.

Admittedly, I'm still working out a rhythm, and finding my groove. The details of the job will get smoother in time. But for now I'm challenging myself to be the best that I can be under the circumstances. That takes some focus and energy. By the end of the day, I'm often whooped.

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.

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.
PackRat's Comment
member avatar

Sorry if already explained, but are you home nightly or only weekends?

I knew this would be a huge culture change for you, but adapt you must. No doubts here you'll be an All Star at WM, too, in the near future.

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Turtle's Comment
member avatar

The uniforms:

-22 shirts long or short sleeves, or mix of both. Choice of blue or white.

-11 pants. Your choice of jeans or cargo type.

-5 blue cargo type

-2 jackets

There are storage lockers at the DC for your uniforms and personal items. Uniform laundry is done by an outside company. Just leave your dirty uniforms in the bin at the DC, and they come back clean next week.

The trucks:

2017 and newer Cascadias.

Beginning in 2019, any new truck brought into the fleet will have the auto-shift transmission. So it's only a matter of time before the entire fleet is auto.

Each truck is equipped with a refrigerator and 1500w inverter. However, the inverter is limited to 2 hours of use in a 10 hour period. I'm not sure of their reason behind this, but it's not really a big deal. The only thing that I can imagine using for more than 2 hours would be a television, and you can buy your own 12v 400 watt inverter for that.

Forward facing cameras are installed in every truck. In the event the camera recorder is triggered, it looks back 8 seconds and forward 4.

Satellite radios are in every truck. A TV mount is provided in the sleeper, but no TV. Bring your own. Likewise with a CB mounting plate on the dash. Dual CB antennas are mounted on the rear of the truck behind the sleeper, in place of the internal roof antenna from previous Cascadias.

The schedules:

Each DC has its own individual scheduling options depending on their needs and driver availability. Schedules, or "programs", are divvied out based on seniority. Drivers bid on the programs they want. The three most common program options are:

5/2

Simply put, 5 on - 2 off. Your start day can be any day of the week, depending on availability. After deciding a start day, that'll be your start day from then on, on a fixed schedule. When schedules are re-bid, sometimes twice a year, you can try for another program of your liking. The coveted schedules start on Monday and end on Friday, giving those drivers the weekend off. Those programs are obviously sucked up by the senior drivers. Only with time will you gain enough seniority to bid on those programs. Well, you can bid on them as soon as you start but you won't get em.

Within the 5 / 2 programs, there are some that have an assigned truck, and some that you will have to slip seat. Even in the slip seat scenario, you'll sometimes have the same truck all week. Other times you may get a different truck 2 - 3 times a week. Again, the senior drivers will get the best programs, with an assigned truck. Slip seating is perhaps the biggest draw back for some people. But if you travel light, it's really no big deal. You're home every week, so you don't need to bring a ton of stuff with you.

5/2-5/3 (I opted for this one)

First week is 5 on 2 off, next week is 5 on 3 off, then 5 on 2 off, then 5 on 3 off, and so on. By rotating the schedule like that, every two weeks you'll start one day later. Every few weeks you'll rotate around to having a partial weekend, and then a full weekend off. It's good for drivers low on the totem pole, they get to spend weekend time with the family more often.

The downside is it pays a little less annually than the 5/2 due to the extra days off. That's okay with me since I'll get more time off with my family, yet still make more than at my previous company. On the flip side, I always have the option to work extra days when I want. So I can boost my income through extra production.

This program has three drivers sharing two trucks. By having each driver start their week on a different day, the two trucks stay running non-stop. When you come in to start your week, you're assigned a truck for that entire week. After going home for your days off, you come back and get into the second truck for the next week. So you're constantly going from one truck to the other every week. It'll always be the same two trucks, and if you talk to the other drivers you can work it out so that you each leave some of your stuff on the truck. For example: remember Joe, the guy I met on the plane and went to orientation with in Bentonville? Well, he and I are on the same program, and will be 2 of the 3 drivers sharing the same two trucks. So we have it worked out where I'll set one truck up with a microwave, coffee maker, CB, tv, etc and he'll set up the other. We'll just leave that stuff in the truck for each other to use. The only thing we'll have to move from truck to truck will be our clothes, food, and bedding.

6/3 home daily

6 on 3 off continuously. They offered me this one too, and it was a home daily program. But I live a little too far away for a daily commute. These programs typically have a driver slip seating into a different truck every day. Also, the program they offered me had a midnight start time. Not my ideal scenario.

Programs come up for rebid again in April. I may try a 5-2 at that time simply for comparison purposes. But it's likely I'll stick with the schedule I'm on, as it seems to fit my needs so far.

I have more stuff to talk about, but it'll have to wait until next time. Between the new job and unplanned stuff going on at home, my free time is sparse. But I'm still here.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

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.

Turtle's Comment
member avatar
Sorry if already explained, but are you home nightly or only weekends?

I'll mostly be home only three nights a week, with a fourth thrown in sometimes. Like last week I got done a little early one day, so jetted home for the night. At 90 minutes away, the commute is a bit much for every day. If I only have time for a 10-hour break, I'll stay in the truck.

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

Great explanation breakdown of those details.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Some takeaways I've gathered so far:

-One huge learning curve for me was the fact that I no longer needed to save every single minute of on-duty time that I could. The OTR mindset is to go off-duty when possible, thereby saving the 70. The "Old Guard" here quickly taught me to do just the opposite. In a 5 day work week, there's no need to save those 70 hours at all. In fact, it's to my benefit to use up the on-duty hours as much as possible. You see, we earn paid time off (PTO) for every hour spent on-duty. So more on-duty = more PTO. Now I go on-duty in the morning to start my day, and only go off-duty for my half hour break. To be clear, it's not like I have time to lolly gag and burn hours. But those gray areas that used to be logged off-duty are now on.

The only time I save hours now is when I want to work an extra day, or for when they have mandatory extra shifts. I half-expected the mandatory shifts to be in force right now during the busy season, but there's no talk of it happening. It wouldn't bother me if they did.

-I noticed a lot of the senior drivers seeming to take their sweet time at everything they do, at least when I see them at the yard. I'm still hardwired for maximum output, so breaking the GO GO GO habit is a tough one. Although somedays, the load they want me to complete definitely requires an efficient plan.

-The only experience I have in a truck has been in one governed at 62. These trucks do 65, which is good and bad. Good because, well it does 65. Bad because, well it does 65......same as a ton of other trucks on the road. Traveling at 62 was actually much easier, in that all I had to do was stay in the right lane, never having to bother with passing anyone. Now I'm constantly running in the same pack as most everyone else, with the accompanying frustration of being slightly faster than some, but not fast enough to warrant taking 5 miles to pass. 95% of the time I just left the adaptive cruise control do the work, keeping me in line.

-Another thing I enjoy is the lack of wait time at DCs, stores, and even shipping vendors. Seriously, waiting 5-10 minutes to get into the back of a store has been the longest I've had to wait yet. I can really get used to this. Every vendor I've been to so far has been a drop & hook.

-The ability to park at nearly any Walmart or Sam's has been a HUGE bonus. Being in close proximity to stores and DCs has kept me from having to stop at a truck stop so far. Each DC has showers, so that fills that need for me. In a rare event I do need to shower at a truck-stop, Walmart will reimburse the cost, as well as parking fees.

-Even WMPF has terminal rats. It seems to be more prevalent among the senior drivers. They moan and cry about the good old days when Walmart handed them a pair of slippers and snifter of brandy at the end of every day. They lament at the influx of new drivers taking away the good runs, while in the next breath bragging of the 90k-100k a year they're making on the bad runs.

wtf-2.gif

-Speaking of money, we get activity pay for every little thing we do in addition to driving. Things like arrivals, departures, stops, drops, hooks, live unloads, etc. all fall under "activity" pay. With the multitude of things we do in a day, the activity pay can add up big time. Other companies may do this, but it's new to me.

-With the sheer volume of stores in this region, I get to enjoy taking many more back roads than I did OTR. I absolutely love going through the small towns and backcountry. Sure, it may slow me down a little bit, limiting my miles. But that's okay, it's never really been all about money for me.

-After yanking around the heavily laden spread axles for 3 years, maneuvering and backing a regular set of tandems is a breeze.

-Now that I've pulled an empty van in high winds, I really feel the effect of a strong wind that I did not get in my flatbed.

Happy Thanksgiving!

smile.gif

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.

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.

Tandems:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

DWI:

Driving While Intoxicated

Marc Lee's Comment
member avatar

Another great update Turtle!

Thanks!

Pre-tripped tractor. Listening to my trainer argue with yet another Fleet Leader today (not his usual), about the load we didn't run yesterday. "You don't do that with a trainee!" ("Refuse a load).

It was still assigned to trainer today. Apparently FL needed to send an unassigned load message because "we don't work 1/2 days!". (He did put his availability in as to 13:00). So now we sit...

wtf.gif

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