Starting Schneider National Dedicated Flex Fleet

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

  1. vipie1992

    vipie1992 Light Load Member

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    Dec 21, 2020
    Northwest Louisiana
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    Wow I've been incredibly busy the last 2 weeks.

    I flew to TN, did the truck recovery. The truck I recovered was actually in really good shape aside from it missing some stuff. Somehow the Wabco CMS thing was completely missing from the truck. Bob-tailing from TN to ATL was no problem. Once I got to ATL I found my personal truck and it wasn't in the cleanest shape. I didn't have any sheets or blankets or anything when I got to Atlanta so I had to make a couple trips to Walmart using the company car to get some basic essentials to be able to live in the truck. Also got a vacuum and some cleaning supplies to clean it out the rest of the way and now I've pretty much got it how I want it.

    Got a 2018 Cascadia Evolution without optimized idle or an APU, not having 24/7 power kinda sucks but I'm learning to make it work. I have to sit in the seat and shutdown override for awhile when I need to dry out the truck or cool it down, sometimes I end up idling to preheat the cab as well. The bunk heater works great for heating, but sometimes it stops working halfway through the night and I'll wake up cold as F and end up having to restart it lmao. But when it does work it works GREAT.

    I ended up having to go rescue another fellow NDF driver and his truck for my first gig, and then my DTL arranged for me to have some random loads sending me closer to my house so I could pick up all the gear I left behind in lieu of getting on the plane to TN.

    I ended up doing a bunch of drop n hooks, live loads, etc. I got to see what that whole experience is like, since so far I had only seen what the dedicated side of things was like. I guess this is what OTR drivers are normally doing. Did some loads from atlanta to mississippi, then mississippi to memphis, then from memphis to dallas. I got to go home for a 34 hr reset between memphis and dallas and load up the rest of my stuff. A lot of valuable experience was gleaned on that journey. From scaling, to sliding tandems, to backing, to distribution centers, to relays, working with customers, all kind of stuff that I don't think you could recreate with a trainer. I could talk about last weeks experience for hours but I'll spare you the details. But basically I had a blast.

    I found out how crowded the drop lot in Shreveport is. When I parked my trailer there before I started my 34, it was already super tight and it took me a minute to finally get my trailer parked. But when I came back from my 34, 3 more trailers were parked directly in front of my trailer; leaving even less room than there was before; so I had to hook up to a different trailer and do some shuffling around to make room for me to get out without bumping into anything.

    Made it to Dallas to make my delivery, stayed at the OC for a night since it was only a few miles away from my delivery. And now I'm under a super heavy load right now headed back to Atlanta. Parked at a Pilot outside of Atlanta until my appointment tomorrow. After I finish up with this relay load, I actually start doing my dedicated account. Going to be doing a curtain-side flatbed account here in Georgia. Will see how that goes, I'm pretty excited.

    Overall, really liking the truck driving thing so far, I'm having fun. There are definitely some stressful and challenging moments, but I think that might be why I like it. There is nothing like that feeling of accomplishment after thinking "Oh man this is gonna be hard" or "Man, idk if I can do this" but then you end up pulling it off safely and without damaging anything. Just gotta remember to take it slow, remember my training, and to GOAL. Now I get excited when its time to drive again because I wanna see what kind of new situations I can conquer and learn from.

    Will update again when I get some flatbedding under my belt and let you know how that goes. Til next time.
     
    kemosabi49, Opus, JOHNQPUBLIC and 5 others Thank this.
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  3. navypoppop

    navypoppop Medium Load Member

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    Dec 4, 2014
    Winter Haven, Fl.
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    Congratulations vipie1992,

    Hell of an experience isn't it! There probably isn't a better feeling when it all starts to come together and goes well. Just be patient and keep everything you learned in prospective. Do not rush anything and you'll be sure to have a great career and a good time doing it. You have shown that you will be successful as you have a really good demeanor and attitude to "Git R done"! Good luck and keep your journey posts coming as I enjoy reading.
     
  4. Opus

    Opus Road Train Member

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    South GA
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    Good luck and best wishes.
    You have the right attitude.
    You'll be fine
     
    inandoutoftrouble Thanks this.
  5. vipie1992

    vipie1992 Light Load Member

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    Dec 21, 2020
    Northwest Louisiana
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    Another weekly update. Man I've been busy as hell again. Last week I started my dedicated account hauling some wood products all over. My first detail was a 2 day trip to Tennessee that ended up being 3 days because I forgot to drop off a skid at one of the first places I went to deliver. I made live back to back deliveries. Went to a bunch of Lowe's and a couple Home Depots and a few random other places. Took me a bit to get in the groove and get efficient with unstrapping/restrapping my loads and understanding the paperwork and load map.

    After I finished my first trip in Tennessee I came back to the ATL OC for a 34 hr reset and got to wash my clothes and do a little grocery shopping on my bobtail. I got my pre-assignment for the next load while I was on my 34 and tried to study up on it a bit more.

    This week my detail has been a trip to various places in North Carolina, and boy have I learned even more on this detail. I feel like the TN trip was a trial run but the NC run has been one challenge after another.

    Yesterday after one of my Lowe's deliveries, as I was leaving, somehow I ran over a cap from a steel toe shoe and ended up losing my front left steer-tire. Kinda ironic. I couldn't believe it when I saw it. Had to pull into a turning lane into a residential area and had to call SEM to send some tire dudes out to rescue me. That whole ordeal set me back about an hour and half which cost me 2 of the deliveries I was supposed to make yesterday.

    Aside from that, yesterday I decided to invest in a 5ft fiberglass ladder because climbing in and out of the back and crawling over products isn't my idea of a good time lmao. The ladder has probably been my #1 time-saving investment. That and a pair of snips for the banded skids because some of the bands were really dulling my knife.

    I'm still trying to figure out if it's legal to bungee the ladder to my catwalk or something, because for now I've just been leaving it on my bed and fetching it out of the escape hatch at every drop, then folding it up in the top bunk when the day is over. If I could bungee or strap it to the back of the cab/catwalk I believe it would save me some time. I'm open to any suggestions that would make my process more efficient.

    One of the places I delivered to yesterday also sent me back with 6 skids of some really heavy wood, but there wasn't any room left on my flatbed to distribute them evenly, so they had to stack them on the very end of my trailer. I'm kinda concerned about going back to Georgia with all that weight on the rear of the trailer like that. I'm hoping maybe I can persuade one of the Lowe's guys on my last delivery tomorrow to redistribute the skids to the center of the flatbed. I can see the tail end of the trailer bouncing up and down sometimes when I'm looking in my mirror and I don't like it one bit, the truck also rides a bit different, I think the kingpin may be pulling up on the fifth wheel and it gets a bit more pronounced after every delivery. I'm pretty sure in my flatbed manual it says that is a no-no. If the Lowe's guys won't redistribute the skids then I think I'm going to explore other options. Maybe there are some dudes at the Charlotte OC that can do it? If I had a forklift or a moffett I would do it myself, but Schneider won't allow me to do that lol.

    Today, after one of my deliveries I also realized one of my trailer tires was low, like knocking on the door of being flat soon. I invested in one of those 50 ft air hoses that hooks up to glad hands, tried to air it up with that, but found some pinholes in the tire after I put enough air in it to really hear the leaks. Had to call SEM AGAIN!!! they routed me to a tire bank between deliveries to get a new trailer tire. One of my tires also looked like it was gonna lose it's tread soon so I got them to go ahead and replace that one too. That set me back at least another delivery and now I'm playing catch up. Luckily the rest of my stops are all Lowe's and they don't seem too concerned with the appointment times, as long as you're there before they stop receiving.

    I was supposed to only have 2 deliveries tomorrow, but in lieu of the delays I have 5 now. I'm pretty confident I'll be able to do all 5 deliveries tomorrow. Ideally I'd like to get all 5 deliveries done and get to the Charlotte OC before my time runs out. We'll see what happens.

    Will update again soon and let you know how it goes. Stay tuned. Despite all the mishaps and setbacks, I'm still having a blast.

    Attached pictures of the Steel Toe Steer Tire... lmao
    steel toe 1.jpg
    steel toe 2.jpg steel toe 3.jpg
     
    Speed_Drums and gentleroger Thank this.
  6. Opus

    Opus Road Train Member

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    Dec 18, 2011
    South GA
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    Just wow.
    You're doing fine.
    Perhaps @gentleroger could give you some tips
     
  7. gentleroger

    gentleroger Road Train Member

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    Jun 1, 2010
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    Once you get space to move the return pallets forward, start asking at each delivery you have left, one of them is likely to say yes. Or talk to your dbl and they can get Charlotte OC to do it.

    The ladder is a good idea. As long as it is below your 5th wheel, you should be able to strap it to the catwalk. I would put it as far forward as I could.

    Tires are a part of life. My record is 28 in a week - all at one tire bank. I used up all the tires the had.

    I didn't see anything else in your post that inspired me to impart sage wisdom. You seem to be doing well. If they ever route you to GB, let me know ahead of time and I'll take you to dinner if I'm around.
     
  8. vipie1992

    vipie1992 Light Load Member

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    Dec 21, 2020
    Northwest Louisiana
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    Yeah I'm thinking the Lowe's guys will likely help, overall the move shouldn't take longer than 5 minutes if that. I may offer a $20 bill if they seem hesitant.

    The ladder will definitely fit under the fifth wheel. I've had the truck now a little over 2 weeks and I realized 2 days ago that someone had stowed a push broom on top of the cab extenders. It's so high up that I never noticed it until this weekend. I'm not even sure I could get it down. That's probably been up there forever and DOT hasn't said anything about it so I think my ladder will be ok. I'm going to get some load straps from one of my Lowe's deliveries tomorrow and see what I can come up with.

    One of my friends said to me that an 18 wheeler has 18 tires that could possibly go bad and it dawned on me how much that increases the likelyhood of a flat. If this week has been any indication, I'm expecting at least one bad tire per week.

    I'll let you know if I end up in GB. I wanna go back to Kroll's across the street from Lambeau, that place has some good curds. Lol. I'm trying to work up the courage to ask my DTL if I can take TAH somewhere other than home. WI will be on the list.
     
  9. vipie1992

    vipie1992 Light Load Member

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    Dec 21, 2020
    Northwest Louisiana
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    So, another update.

    I ended up being able to get a Lowe's guy to move my skids forward a little bit and it helped a lot.

    BUT!!! Wouldn't you believe it, the same day I lost ANOTHER TIRE!!!! 3rd tire in a week. One of the new trailer tires, which I believe was likely a recap, had a catastrophic failure on I-77 as I was about 30 minutes from the Charlotte OC. The tread completely separated from the wheel and the rest of the tire exploded into rubber shreds. I didn't even realize it was gone until I looked in my mirror and saw the pickup truck behind me swerve onto the shoulder to miss the alligator I left behind. I looked in my other mirror and saw nothing but rim.

    Had to pull over on the shoulder in the middle of super crazy traffic, put out my triangles, and had to wait a good 2 hours for a Goodyear guy to come out. By the time the Goodyear guy was finished putting on a new tire I only had about an hour left on my 14 and I made a B-Line to the Charlotte OC. Made it there with 26 minutes to spare on my 14 and by the time I was done with my post trip I had about 15 minutes left. It was a long day. Super long day. Lol. I took a 12 hour DOT break instead of 10 because I was absolutely worn out. I woke up and took the trailer through Express maintenance at the OC to get them to see if there was anything unsafe about the brakes on the trailer since I kept getting a trailer ABS light intermittently. I thought maybe there was some comorbidity with the tire failure especially considering the tire was new, but they couldn't find anything wrong and chalked it up to a bad recap. I left the OC around 8:30 and made it back down to Georgia by 5pm, should've been there by 3pm but there was a wreck in Atlanta near Marietta that apparently had the entire interstate blocked off. I sat in traffic on duty long enough for it to satisfy my 30 min break lmao. Had a preassignment waiting for me by the time I got to Georgia.

    Slept at the shipper, woke up and headed to Tennessee. Made a bunch of deliveries yesterday in the Nashville area, but I came 1 delivery short of completing the load. I had 1 stop left yesterday but only an hour and a half left on my 14. The next stop was in Winchester TN about an hour away and I had a feeling I wasn't going to be able to drive there, open the curtain, unload, wait for HD to inventory, roll up the straps, rebuckle the curtains, drive to a truck stop, find a place to park, and do a post trip within that hour and a half... so I had to stop at a Love's and start my 34hr reset.

    Looks like its going to be an extended 34hr reset too because Home Depot doesn't take deliveries again until Monday. Fine with me though, I can catch up on some much needed rest.

    Even though I missed my last delivery, I did better than my estimated ETAs though, I honestly didn't think I'd make it as far as I did. I've been getting faster and faster with my process. Plus this time I haven't had any tire or equipment failures lmao. I've cut the time of my process down from an hour and a half to about 45 minutes to unload, sometimes less. Depends if I have to open both sides of the curtains or not, how tall the skids are stacked, how much trash I have to sort through (cardboard edge protectors, load bands, etc). Starting to feel like I'm getting in the groove and I'm digging it. I finished out the week with only an hour left on my 70 and no recap hours coming up for the next 2 days so I feel like I did pretty good this week.

    Supposed to be pretty cold this weekend, we'll see if the truck will let me idle without shutting off now. I don't think the batteries on the bunk heater will last 48+ hours. Anyway, another day in the life of a Schneider Flatbed Driver lmao. Safe travels.
     
  10. keebler13579

    keebler13579 Medium Load Member

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    Nov 16, 2012
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    When you were sitting in traffic you were supposed to be in drive not on duty not driving. You can on duty not driving past your 14 but not drive past it. Not sure about schneiders policies but if you run out of time at your delivery you can pc to the nearest safe place to park
     
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  11. vipie1992

    vipie1992 Light Load Member

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    Dec 21, 2020
    Northwest Louisiana
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    Interesting, if the tablet detects you're under 5mph for longer than like 5 mins it automatically puts you on duty, I was going slow enough for long enough that it automatically made it work I guess. Schneider also doesn't have personal conveyance so I would've been SOL on that front.
     
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