Starting Schneider National Dedicated Flex Fleet

Discussion in 'Schneider' started by vipie1992, Dec 21, 2020.

  1. vipie1992

    vipie1992 Bobtail Member

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    So I finally got my CDL last week after 20 weeks of truck school. I have been eyeballing Schneider as a potential employer since before I started school in August. Seemed like a good company to work for, especially as a new driver. I've been in touch with SNI since last month and finally set up an orientation date. I'm headed to Wilmer, Texas next weekend to start training. Supposed to do regular dry van, reefer, flatbed, and possibly moffett training.

    I originally wanted to do OTR, but found out that OTR from my area only gives me access to the eastern 37 states, while National Dedicated gives me access to all of the Lower 48. I like to see different places (even if its just concrete, docks, and truck stops) so I'm more drawn to NDF. Sounds like National Dedicated Fleet mostly consists of me going to fill in for other people when needed.

    There is a shockingly small amount of information online about the National Dedicated Fleet, so I figured I'd document my experience here as it happens. Will keep you updated.
     
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  3. vipie1992

    vipie1992 Bobtail Member

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    Northwest Louisiana
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    So, checking in. First day (Tuesday) of orientation was a lot of paperwork, drug tests, the electrode test, and I had to do a physical test that involved doing some moderately active activities and making sure my heart rate stayed within a certain range. Also had to make sure I had the strength to strap and tarp flatbed loads.

    2nd day (Wednesday) I met my TE and we immediately started pre-tripping in the rain, learning how to couple/uncouple, check trailers, and did a short 45 minute drive around the industrial areas of Dallas to get a grasp of well we could drive, as well as pay attention to road signs, checking mirrors etc. Learned that my "one-handed" steering wheel method was bad practice and quickly fixed it. Came back to the OC around noon and worked on logbooks and CBTs (computer based training)

    3rd day (Thursday) we went back out driving, in the pouring rain this time, which added a layer of difficulty but also a level of realism. I got in about an hour and a half of driving. Figured out i need to work on finding the sweet spot when it comes to making turns. I think I have some bad habits stored from CDL school because I'm used to practicing with 48 foot trailers and these are 53, so I need to be more careful. Only hit one curb but came mighty close to some others. Some other turns I was way too wide because I was having flashbacks of getting close to curbs. So that's what I'm going to work on when I drive again, finding a sweet spot to turn without being too wide or being too close.. Came back around noon and I finished up the rest of my CBTs. I was stressing about getting them done because I thought there were a lot, had to get them done by Saturday so it was nice to have them all done early.

    I also ended up volunteering to drive the shuttle van to/from the hotel because the designated bus drivers are all on vacation for New Years. I'd done this a million times in my past job, so this was no problem for me.

    4th day (Friday/Today) I drove the van into the OC with my vanload of coworkers, when we got to the OC we immediately went out to the garages and learned more about coupling, uncoupling, sliding tandems, and sliding the fifth wheel. Also some good tips were learned about cargo securement. Came back from the garage and went to lunch for about 30 minutes... went to the computer lab to watch videos about winter driving, more coupling and uncoupling, freeing frozen brakes, getting out of skids, etc... There was only a skeleton crew of people at the OC since everyone was on vacation for new years, and we finished all of our stuff for the day so we got out early at 1pm and I drove the van back to the hotel, now enjoying some much needed R&R. Haven't been sleeping too well because I have a really loud air conditioner unit in my room that rattles, but I finally fixed it by putting a 12-pack of sodas on top of it, lol.

    Tomorrow I'll be driving the van into the OC for the last time, and we take our CFL tests (check for learning) and a hazmat CBT, then I think we may either start on the simulators or start learning how to work with the tablets... or we may end up leaving early again after we finish the CFLs. Due to the weather and New Years holiday, things are a bit different than they usually are so things are kinda up in the air I guess. We'll see what happens.

    Overall I started off this experience a bit nervous, but every day I come back from the OC I feel a little more confident than I was the day before, which is great. I supposed that means the training is working. It does seem like there is a lot to cram into such a small amount of time, but most of it does seem like a recap on what I already learned in CDL school, just with some extra pointers and information on top. In CDL school we weren't taught how to slide tandems, fifth wheel, or couple/uncouple so this was obviously good knowledge to have. Schneider is epic so far. I'm digging it.

    Will update again in a few days, if anyone has questions or anything I'll try to answer them
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2021
  4. Lonesome

    Lonesome Mr. Sarcasm

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    Good luck, driver!
     
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  5. Broke_and_Hungry

    Broke_and_Hungry Light Load Member

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    The electrode test scares me, just where do they insert said electrode??

    Sounds like you have your head screwed on straight, best of luck to you and may 2021 be your year.
     
  6. vipie1992

    vipie1992 Bobtail Member

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    Northwest Louisiana
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    They put the electrodes on my back, neck, arms, legs, and I also had to wear a headband thing with some electrodes on it as well. They're adhesive electrodes so it's nothing too crazy... unless you're like me and are really hairy. They were having trouble with some of the readings on the tests because my hair kept causing the electrodes to peel off or not make a good connection. Taking them off was like waxing and now I have some nice bald spots on my arms, legs, and back lmao.
     
  7. vipie1992

    vipie1992 Bobtail Member

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    Oh yeah, also worth noting, I found out that my home terminal is actually going to be Green Bay, WI despite me living in Louisiana. I guess the NDF position I took calls for that. I was expecting to be based out of Dallas, so this was a surprise to me. I'm not mad about it though because I actually have a lot of family in Wisconsin... and well... an addiction to cheese curds. So I'm hoping they send me up there ASAP lmao.
     
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  8. gentleroger

    gentleroger Road Train Member

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    It's purely an administrative thing. Your DBL is based in GB, but your park location will still be Dallas (or whichever drop lot or OC is closest to your house).
     
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  9. vipie1992

    vipie1992 Bobtail Member

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    Northwest Louisiana
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    Ah I see.. well dang that slims my chances of smuggling some cheese curds back home lol. That's good to know though.

    I was wondering how the drop lot thing works, there is a drop lot a couple miles from my home in Louisiana, but I wasn't sure if that was just for trailers or if I could park there during home time. I'll be gone for 3+ weeks at a time and I don't plan on being there often but if I can park there instead of making a 3 hour commute to/from Dallas that would be amazing. I'm sure I'll figure out how that works soon, I guess we haven't got to that part of orientation yet lol.
     
  10. gentleroger

    gentleroger Road Train Member

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    I'm pretty sure Jeff will be your DBL. He's a good guy and pretty flexible. I'm assuming you are referring to Shreveport, and yes you can park your truck for home time there.

    A bit of advice - make sure you understand your pay structure. It's been a couple of years since I paid attention to Nat Dedicated, but I recall that there was something about extra pay for staying out more than 6 weeks. Something to ask about.
     
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  11. Opus

    Opus Road Train Member

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    Shouldn't be a problem at all.
    Good luck and happy trails
     
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