Would Like Info On Flatbedding, Specifically Swift

Topic 890 | Page 1

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Daniel Johnson's Comment
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Hi guys, it's been awhile. I have to say thank you to this site and its memebers for the invaluable info I received going into my trucking career. I used this site along with swifts school in Phoenix. I ran company as a solo for 6 months, did teams in a company truck and now I'm a second seat driver for a lease operator with swift. Asied from some personal issues with my cp driver, more like team driving itself, I'm getting ready to make my next step. I want to go back to solo and I want to do flatbed division this time. Eventually I want away from swift. Great starting company, but I know there are better paying outfits out there. I did flatbed in a 6 wheel straight truck and enjoyed it. So I would like to add to my experiences by doing flatbed with swift. This will add to my hirability as well down the road. My questions are kinda vague and general, but I'd like to know what I should expect, what's required, and what's different than hauling something with walls vs without. What are the shippers like and deliver spots vs big wearhouse drop and hooks. Any rules or permits or anything I'll run into not ever considered when hauling a dry van? Anything in general to help prepare myself for this upcoming transition before I make a final decision. And more specifically, has anyone ever been thru swifts flatbed classes and any other info specific to swift. Thanks, Dj

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.

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.

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.

guyjax(Guy Hodges)'s Comment
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Though i have never pulled flatbed I can tel you something I have learned through the years from others. Generally you are loaded and unloaded faster. A lot less waiting times but sometimes ,depending on the load, the tie down and tarp times well equal about the same. I know Starcar has down flatbed for years and she would be the best to answer most of your questions.

With vans you through in a load bar or two and close the doors and go. Not so with flatbed. You have to secure the load with straps or chains and possibly tarps depending on the freight. I have noticed that O/O's get more of a choice as to wen they have to tarp. Most companies make their drivers tarp even if the weather is good cause they do not want the chance of the freight being damaged by weather. Once your loaded you will have to secure the load and get going regardless of the weather. Rain,snow,wind and sleet it does not matter. No waiting till the weather improves. You will be taking a shower everyday and sometimes two to three times a day depending on how many loads you do a day. Securing a load with chains and straps and tarps can be a nasty job. SO securing the load in 100 degree weather or in -20 degree weather you will need a shower when your done.

I know flatbedders get looked at more through scales due to load securment. A strap that is not 100% or a chain slightly damaged will cause you a ton of trouble since the new heightened category for load securing came out.

More than a few times I have seen flatbeds in scale houses untarping theirs loads completely cause their chains and straps were under the tarps and the DOT waned to inspect the chains and tarps and the load securment. I know this does not happen all the time but I have seen it happen a few times.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Daniel Johnson's Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the reply. Sounds like fun! I'm young and active and honestly I'm getting tired of the close the doors and go mentality. I miss the exercise I used to get when I drove a wannabe truck. I'm looking for more action and physically demanding work. Waking up and driving for 11 hours and going back to sleep is just wearing away at me. Team lifestyle is not for me. I rarely make it out of the truck when we're on a cross country run.

guyjax(Guy Hodges)'s Comment
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There are three types of people in trucking. Those that are skinny and those that are not and those that are in the middle. While true you do get more exercise doing flatbed work its not enough to shed pounds if that is what you are looking to do.

Because we sit 99% of the day and do nothing but drive its during those times we consume the most calories. Now you can lose weight by counting calories and not eating so much but the little exercise you do get from flatbedding will not be enough alone to make the difference.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Old School's Comment
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Daniel, I drive a flat bed and Guyjax is right, there is a lot of physical work to it. This time of year I'm changing clothes at least twice a day because they are soaking wet with sweat. Those tarps are heavy and cumbersome, and if the wind is blowing like it was blowing last week when I was in Salt Lake City UT you'll have to find some area behind a building or something to break some of the wind to even be able to get them on your load. If you don't you'll find yourself para-sailing, and it's not the pleasant kind like you might do on a vacation in Cozumel. I witnessed a guy get pulled right off the top of his load, and it wasn't pretty. Poor rookie didn't know enough to let go, thought he could hold it until the wind died down.

I go through at least two good pair of leather gloves each month, throwing chains and rolling straps takes it's toll on them. It's a great job though, and I really do love pulling a flat bed. The receivers are usually glad to see you and there certainly isn't the kind of waiting the refrigerated carriers go through. Occasionally I get held up at a shipper , but it's out of the ordinary. Most flat bed loads have around 500 miles on them, but of course that varies depending on the customer base. I've had quite a few loads that put me in the 1,500 - 2,200 mile range, and I almost always have a pre-planned load waiting on me to get finished with the load I'm on.

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.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Daniel Johnson's Comment
member avatar

I'm the skinny type already. This isn't some ploy to loose weight. I want to do something different and something more challenging. I do like a bit harder and physically demanding job than the sit all day and do nothing else, but nonetheless, I want to try it because I've done a little flatbedding before in a straight truck and liked it and now I think it's time to gain that experience in the big truck world. Thank you though, I'm sure someone else reading thinking flatbeds will make em skinny might have to rethink their strategy. Still before I change how I'm trucking, I am trying to acquire as much data as I can so I can at least say it was an educated decision when I pull the trigger and move up to my next chapter in my career.

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.

Tracy W.'s Comment
member avatar

Is anyone familiar with Melton as a Flatbed Carrier? Melton Trucking

I like how they looked from a company perspective, unfortunately, they don't hire out of Montana, so they weren't an option for me.

Daniel Johnson's Comment
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Thanks for your insights too old school. I never felt better about myself when I hauled for Leslies driving their flatbed ford. I like the hard work. I did my duties for them in the summer time too, I know what sweat and hard work is. Kinda getting excited just talking about it. Also, down the road in my career I'd like to think I might be able to get into doing heavy haul pulling a lowboy with some huge piece of equipment. I know having flatbed experience will be crucial to have under my belt. Besides, I think I've seen every town sized DC there is to see, I want something different. What are the shippers and receiver places you flatbed guys end up at? I'm sure they can probably be pretty unique sometimes.

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.

guyjax(Guy Hodges)'s Comment
member avatar

If you are with a company that has a flatbed division and they are willing to train you I would do it just because. There reason I say that is most higher paying flatbed jobs will not train you and you have to have at least 6 months to a year experience with flat bedding.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Daniel, you won't have to worry about waiting for an open dock at a DC in that flat-bed. I've never even been to a DC, but every time I drive by one of them it sends a shiver up my back. That's definitely not for me. Heck, I had a fork lift driver unloaded my truck the other day out in the middle of a cow pasture with wind in my face and the sun on my brow - I love it! Oops, I just remembered I sometimes go to a Lowes DC in Washington Court House OH, but there's no dock for me to back into. I park it where they tell me to and in a few minutes the Hyster operator will be their to unload the goods.

We go to a lot of industrial type plants where you pull into the building and they load you with an overhead crane, and if you're lucky enough to go to the right places they even have tarping machines that spread your tarps out on the load for you while you're in the building. Unloading is often times the same, pull in the building and they take it off with the overhead crane. Some place they don't even want you to get out of the truck. You'll unstrap and/or untarp your load outside then pull in and sit in the cab while they unload you, then most of these places are set up so that you just pull forward to get out of the building. I have had my share of tricky backing situations, but you won't have near as much of it with a flat bed as you've already experienced.

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