Swift - Starting the New Year training with Swift 1/7/13 - A long read...

Discussion in 'Swift' started by DocWatson, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. DocWatson

    DocWatson Road Train Member

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    You are right. This was a Costco to Costco DC load. I didn't realize that the weight might not have been as predicted. I seriously had such a bad experience out there in Maryland (not Costco) that when I saw this one with the weights and the low mileage I almost had a fit.

    I agree about it being cheaper to just get a local guy to run this load. Generally I'm not all that picky about the loads I take. I take everything with the exceptions of:
    - I have hometime coming up and it's taking me in the wrong direction
    - I can't make the load due to my available hours (I still send the Mac9 with the adjusted hours that I can pickup/deliver)
    - Or in the most recent case when the miles are so low and I haven't had a good run in a while - this was the first time I "successfully" refused a load for this reason and it probably won't happen very often.

    Overall, I accept everything and revise the hours on the Mac 9 if necessary. I'm almost considering switching DM's but I'm not sure how that reflects on me. Again, don't want to be that problem child. In all I appreciate having this job and I'm happy doing it. I can't imagine doing anything else ever again at this point. This is what I love. But in a realistic sense I have to have some kind of balance between keeping them happy but not being a complete sucker at the expense of my pay. I'm here to get my lumps the first year or more but I'm just trying to figure out where I draw the line.

    With this load I refused today I was thinking in worse case scenario. If I picked up the 240 mile load, went to scale it, couldn't get it to scale right, had to get it adjusted, went back to scale etc. I could see it being a huge issue. Remember it wasn't just this crazy load last week in Aberdeen, MD but about a month or more before that I had that horror load out at Coca-Cola in Connecticut that required reworking. I sat on that short mileage load for a total of 19+ hours over 2 days. Literally. That sticks with me still to this day. I'm trying to avoid a repeat of this.


    I've had a few preplans fall through the cracks while I was working with them. The backup load going to Texas fell through the cracks while I was trying to figure it all out. I guess I'm still learning with all of this. When I get a preplan I grab my notebook and basically write everything in the preplan out, almost verbatim. I then plan from the present hour what I can drive based at 50 mph, taking into consideration my 10, a 20 minute pretrip, scaling if necessary, hour of day I'll be driving especially through metropolitan areas, crossing over mountains, etc. I try to do this pretty quickly but the working out the hours takes me longer since I'm newer I think. I'll get faster at this over time. With some things it's just hard to predict exactly how long things are going to take. When it comes to live loads or unloads I usually allow myself 2 hours.

    With this new +1 program I hear about I often wonder if the computer computes our ETA's based at 60 mph with no hills, no traffic, no scaling, etc. Sometimes I look at a preplan and wonder how it is even possible to get it delivered at that time unless I'm rolling at nearly 62 mph from the start. The times can be tight! I'll get better with this over time. I'm working on it.

    Regarding T-calls, when I need to I definitely try to use that option. If I have too much time to deliver and I can t-call it, I do it. I recently did it in Richmond when I had hometime scheduled, I went to the consignee all the way down in Norfolk and they insisted I didn't have an appointment. T-called it.


    Sometimes planning these loads seems like a mix of good math, wisdom and experience and a little bit of guessing.

    The other night I had 1.5+ hours left on my clock and planned on stopping in the next rest area. I was on I-40 in Tennessee when all of the sudden all the traffic stopped dead. Trucks were required to be in the right lane only and from what I understand this was strictly enforced. Well, we had miles of trucks backed up and I ended up sitting there for 5.5 hours dead stopped due to some rigs that crashed into each other way up the road. I couldn't shut down right there on the highway. There was no where to go but just sit. By the time traffic got moving again there was no where to park as all the trucks had either run their time out or were close to it. So all those trucks that were stuck in traffic in front of me grabbed all the available parking in the rest areas and truckstops up ahead. As I was sitting I watched my time slowly expire from that 1.5 hours left to over 3 hours in violation, all while I sat. It was my 14 that expired. To say the least I was getting pretty exhausted and thank 5 Hour Energy for pulling me thru. I had to drive a while until I found an open parking spot at a mom and pop truckstop. I was over 5 hours over my 14 in violation by the time I parked. I noted all along on my elogs what was going on as it happened. That's all I could do until I could find a safe place to park. Not sure how this will affect my record but it was just one of those things. I couldn't do anything about it. I was stuck until I could find parking.
     
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  3. DocWatson

    DocWatson Road Train Member

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    I can't imagine dropping my chains. I'm not even sure exactly what the means. I think I heard something about doing that with one of my mentors but I've obviously never had to do it. Next they will tell us to put on a sweatsuit and go run around the block to sweat off some water weight so we can scale up legally. Crazy but I do understand the reasoning.

    I didn't know about the creation of our own B.O.L. I haven't had to do this yet but I'm guessing that it shouldn't be an issue. I'm just curious why it's going to this instead of a precreated BOL. Not a big deal it just seemed kind of strange.
     
  4. DocWatson

    DocWatson Road Train Member

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    Okay, so here's something I've been thinking a lot about lately and could use some input from you guys...

    I often pull into truckstops, rest areas, etc. and there is no "legitimate" parking. I then move on and keep driving until I can find this legitimate parking. Lately it's been to the extent that, especially back east, that I will plan all my routes so that I stop by 6:30 PM so I can find legit parking. I've even sent revised Mac 9's for preplans based on this thinking but I'm starting to feel like I'm cheating myself as I watch all these other trucks park haphazardly in the truckstops and rest areas. I'm primarily referring to truckstops here.

    As I sit here typing this in this truckstop I've watched two trucks shut down for the night in the fuel lane. Ooops, make that three. There are 4 fuel islands and 3 have trucks shut down for the night parked in them. Then there are other trucks that have basically blocked me and the trucks to my right in by creating their own parking spots right in front of us square in the middle of this small lot. This Pilot is listed in the book as "SMALL", by the way.

    So, I guess what I'm asking is, should I start parking this way in truckstops since others are doing it?

    I've been reluctant so far to park anywhere other than legit parking spots but maybe I'm being too sheepish with this and I should just go with the flow. I'm asking this in the sense of me not actually blocking anyone in (too badly) but creating my own parking spots or parking for the night in the fuel islands.

    I feel a little cheated since my trying to park in legitimate spots has caused me to plan everything around the fact of when I can get parking. Maybe I should start doing this as well. I'm not sure.

    Any thoughts?

    What would be the proper protocol if I pull up to fuel and every pump has someone parked in it for the night? Just knock on their door and tell them to move? Be polite? I have a hard time sometimes being polite when I feel like someone else if being rude so knowing the right approach would help me. I don't want to be a dick unnecessarily.

    What would be the proper protocol if someone parks in front of me blocking me in at night and I need to get going? Again, knock on the door and wake their ### up that way?

    Any input is always appreciated....
     
  5. inkeper

    inkeper Road Train Member

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    Don't ever block fuel islands to shut down for the night, that is just low class. If someone blocks you in and it is time for you to go, by all means wake them up. They know what they have done and most expect to be awakened. Offer them your legitimate spot and tell them you can wait for them to set up if it won't block your way out.

    Be careful about creating your own spot. If you can do so without seriously impeding the flow of traffic it will probably be ok. Remember though, if someone rips your bumper or fender off while you are parked in a "make your own spot", you will probably get a preventable out of it.
     
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  6. Lepton1

    Lepton1 Road Train Member

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    Costco is paperless. In order to have a piece of paper to present to any scale house on the way you create a BOL to show them, then toss it after you are done.
     
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  7. Lepton1

    Lepton1 Road Train Member

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    I was in Laredo a few weeks ago and was offered a load to Las Vegas, did like you did... writing everything down as I normally do, then Mac-9'ed with a revised ETA and the load declined. I started to write my brother about why I turned down the load when I realized.... ####! I could have made that ETA!

    So I immediately launched Excel and started working on a spreadsheet to analyze how many hours I have on my 70 and how many hours I have coming back each day for several days in order to look at these multiday runs. I put in date/time for beginning and ending each day, etc. Now when I do a long load preplan I use this spreadsheet, but it is still a work in progress.

    As it turns out, after missing out on that Las Vegas load I then got a load to San Diego and accepted it. But as I ran the route I realized I would have run out of 70 about two hours short of Las Vegas. It's a good thing I didn't just blindly accept the Vegas load. Somebody would have had to come out to the middle of nowhere to repower it.

    I'm learning that it is better on long runs to max out at around 10 hours total drive and on duty, between 9-11 hours. If I try to maximize 11 hours drive time on long runs, then I end up running out of 70 in a hurry and then I'm stuck with next to nothing on the 70 and nothing coming back for a day or two.

    It really sucks to have to take a 24 or even a 34 that doesn't qualify as a 34 as I wait for a dispatch that I can handle with the meager hours I have left. Sip those hours like a fine wine.
     
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  8. DocWatson

    DocWatson Road Train Member

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    True about the 70. One of the things im not looking forward to is getting back these meager 2-4 hour days that ive had. Thats going to make planning a little rougher.

    Earlier this morning they gave me a plan to run deadhead to E. ST.Louis to the Pilot to reposition myself for loads. Ive been here ever since. The suck part is that I was at about 21 hours before I started moving to go here so I messed up th e potential I would have had to get a reset in.

    I did find out what this IdleAir thing is today when I backed into one of their assigned spots here at this Pilot. The guy came out asking me to move so I asked him what that contraption was plugged into everyones passenger side window. He explained it to me. Sounds nice but at something like $2.20 an hour its pricey. He said some trucking companies already have a contract with IdleAir and they are working with Swift to get them to sign on. I can only hope.

    So tonight when I got here and after I was booted out of the Idle Air spot there was no parking left. I did the bold thing and parked on the end of the row where there was plenty of room although it wasnt in the way. It doesnt block anyone either. Another truck pulled next to me later so I wasnt on the very end afterall. I still wont park in a fuel island bit I think I may make my own spot now and then if its not in the way. Wont be a habit.
     
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  9. DocWatson

    DocWatson Road Train Member

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    Thats a good idea about the spreadsheet. I need to create some forms myself to make things easier. I did that in my last job and it saved me a ton of time. I want to get a stamp created too with those thing I have to write down on every BOL and scale tickets to submit. Might save a little time and effort.

    Ive run into the same kind of thing with your near trip to Vegas. I took a load where I didnt compute all the hours coming back to me correctly and I needed to aend a mac 22 to deliver it later.

    Im curious if Swift tracks how often we send in Mac22s. I dont do it too often but it happens when unforseen things pop up like accidents or loads getting reworked. Im curious if thos goes against us. I have to check woth my DM.

    Hope I get a load out of here soon...
     
  10. DocWatson

    DocWatson Road Train Member

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    Cool. Ill keep that in mind.
     
  11. Lepton1

    Lepton1 Road Train Member

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    Well, I finally made it out of Lancaster. Received two load offers, a short haul that was offered with 12 minutes to go to pick up deadline 40 miles away, and a longer haul to Phoenix. I ended up declining both loads, with new ETA's that I could make. Both had the automatic message that my ETA's didn't satisfy the customer.

    I then received BOTH load offers again an hour later. The short haul times hadn't changed, in fact if I accepted I'd be late for both the pick up and delivery the moment I accepted. The long haul destination time changed to a more reasonable deadline, but according to my spreadsheet would leave me 3 hours late. I declined both again. Then began a long all day wait in the heat of the sun (I stayed indoors watching movies on the wide screen). Nothing else came through until after I'd gone to bed.

    I got a wake up call just before 11:00 pm, with a short haul offer that had a pick up deadline of 11:15 pm.... 40 miles away, a JIT load. Starting to sound like a familiar song? I decided to experiment, so I just flat accepted the load and then .... no response... then I realized I had to hook to an empty trailer before they would send the assignment. So I start cruising through the empty trailer row, looking for one. Actually started to hook up to two that had red tags on them, finally got hooked to a decent trailer, then got a message on QC that trailer wasn't available. I called dispatch, they said it was supposed to go in the shop for an electrical problem AND that in Lancaster you have to go to the dispatch window to get assigned an empty. So I'd just wasted over half an hour futzing around.

    I go to the dispatch window, they're clueless about any available empties. I tell them the number of the trailer I'd hooked to, and they said it was supposed to go in the shop with an electrical problem. I said all the lights worked fine when I hooked up to it, they said if I thought it was fine then go ahead and hook up to it. When I got back and hooked up I found that there WAS a cut wire causing intermittent light on one of the rear running lights. A knife and electrician's tape solved that.

    I finally made it to the customer at 1:30 am. Took me about 30 minutes of pounding on the door before someone answered. Gave them the BOL # and he came back and gave me a trailer number to hook to, but he thought it was funny because the paperwork said the trailer was in the yard BUT the papers were in the SHIPPED file. He was confused and came out and walked the entire yard with me. The trailer wasn't there........

    so I ended up hooking back up to the empty, talked to dispatch, and gave me a new PTA (projected time of availability) and said they'd get me a load ASAP.

    I fell asleep in the customer's yard, woke up at 6:30, then realized (and this is very important)....

    .... they had set my PTA for 2:45 am this morning.... I immediately used (I think it's Mac 34) to reset my PTA to yesterday morning (my original PTA).

    Almost at once I received two load offers, a short haul and a long haul.

    I accepted both at once and got underway.

    Make sure you don't let planners reset your PTA to a later time. I've had that done before, possibly in retribution for declining ridiculous loads (like a load that had a pickup and delivery five days in the past)... your PTA is everything if you are in a location that has a lot of drivers looking for loads. First come, first served.

    Seems like every terminal has its own quirks. In Lancaster they have to assign you an empty. Other terminals you simply go and hook to one, or they tell you to go and write down a list of empties and THEN they can tell you if any of them are available.

    Fundamentally the highly vaunted "Trailer Track Technology" is vaporware. My experience especially in the last two weeks leads me to believe they have no clue where most of their trailers are. I was sent to a total of eight locations to pick up empties in the last two weeks. Only one of them actually had the mentioned empty trailer, three of the locations didn't have ANY Swift trailers at all, and one location had several empties... but the one I hooked to "wasn't there" according to dispatch... :D
     
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