Week Two & Three of Training

My apologies for falling so far behind in my updates on how my training here at Schneider National was progressing.  There was a high school shooting in my town, and it’s been pretty crazy. Three dead, and 2 others shot. One victim was my friend and old co-worker, but fortunately it looks like he is going to make it. You never know what tomorrow might bring. Please keep everyone in Chardon, OH in your prayers, because it has been an absolutely surreal 2 days.

On to my Schneider training…

As I mentioned in my last post, my time (in week two) with my TE (training engineer, who is a driver that takes trainees out on the road for 5-7 days), I spent my whole first day waiting for Workflow to assign us a load. It never happened, so we bunked down for the night and waited. My TE was a real cool guy, and I definitely learned some valuable stuff for when I am out on the road alone. We spent the next three days running from Detroit to northern MI  to WI then off to PA. Saturday morning I took a bus from Harrisburg, PA to Indianapolis, where I spent the 3rd week of my training. Overall, my experience with my TE was a good one that I feel is a vital step for Schneider, so that they can assure that their new employees really have what it takes to perform this job safely and well. I have no complaints about anything at all about the TE process, and feel that I am more prepared for being solo because of it.

Week three, the final 4 days of training, took place in Indianapolis. The first three days basically consisted of classroom work for 80% of the time, and the other 20% in the truck doing some more driving, backing, and maneuvering. In the classroom, we studied map reading, trip planning, E-logging, and then the new “Workflow” system that is used on the QualComm (in-cab computer). Those few says definitely went by pretty slow at times, but it was necessary to get through, and it really wasn’t hard or anything at all. Those three days are basically arranged so that you can be totally prepared for the SQT (skills quality test), which took place on Thursday.

The SQT consists of 2 parts. “Soft skills” and “hard skills.” The test started first thing on Thursday, and began with a trip plan scenario. They were looking to make sure that you can come up with an ETA for a given load, and if you will even be able to accept the load at all. After successfully doing that, it was time to get with an “OSR” (don’t even know what it stands for, to be honest), and go take the rest of the test in the truck. In the truck, we had to do a proper pre-trip, coupling, and brake test. (Note: during the entire test, you can use any reference materials that you want. Handouts for the pre-trip, coupling, trip planning, Workflow, etc. can all be used during the test) After coupling, I had to get on the QualComm and do what I would do for a real load (there was a fake load that had been assigned to me). The navigation system took me about 7 miles away, where we ended up in an empty parking lot. Did some more on the QC (all the things you would need to do when arriving to the shipper, and before leaving the shipper). The directions from there on out took us right back to the Indy Operating Center. During the whole drive, obviously the tester is looking to see that you make proper turns, lane changes, your shifting, mirror usage, etc. After arriving back at the OC, there was one 45 degree backing that had to be done to put the trailer where it needed to go. After getting that done, I was to drop the trailer. Finished the QC tasks, and that was it!

I was excited to get done with the SQTs, and even more excited that I passed with no problem. I have been back home for a few days now, and am picking up my Cascadia tomorrow, and then hitting the road.

I will continue to post updates here to let you all know how it’s coming along, and how my first run goes.

Thanks, and stay safe out there!

Day one with TE 02/14/12

So today my TE met me at his truck in the soon-to-be-closed Detroit O.C.  Real nice guy, I think it will be a good week. The only problem now is that we are waiting for Workflow to assign us a load… I’ll post more later as the week progresses. Very excited to continue training and be one step closer to being solo. Have yourselves all a good day and stay safe out there!

Day Five of Training 02/11/2012

Well, week #1 is done – one down, two to go. This week was definitely very informative, and I had a really great time for sure. Like I have mentioned a few time already, I am confident that SNI was definitely a good company to have chosen.

Saturday was spent 1/2 driving and 1/2 in the classroom. In the morning I went out (with my co-trainee) with the same instructor I have been with all week. Did our driving test (includes on the road and maneuvering and backing) and passed with flying colors.

After lunch, we were in the classroom and finished up some last-minute paperwork. We got our boots ($25 is taken out of 1st pay check for the boots, but they are well worth it), and then went into the computer lab to do some qualification testing (must pass with at least 80%). No problem there.

Have a presentation of the Benefits package that SNI offers, which was long, but informative.

We ended at 4:00 today, an hour or two earlier than most of the previous days, but it was nice to get back to the hotel to relax.

Now I am sitting in the hotel lobby waiting to go to the Greyhound station – Detroit bound. I am working on some online modules that they want us to be done with by week #3. They are pretty simple and you just have to watch/listen to some videos mostly.

Schneider definitely has a pretty good system down, which makes sense seeing as they have so many drivers. I have been more than happy with the training thus far, as well as the way that all of their employees treated all of us trainees.

I am going to start with my TE (training engineer) on Tuesday morning, and spend 4-5 days out on the road. I am sure that will be a good learning experience as well. After that, it’s to Indy to finish of my week #3 and SQT’s (quality skills testing)… After that, I should officially be a member of the pumpkin patch and get my own truck!

I’ll write as I can next week to describe how the TE/driving process is going. Thanks for reading!

Day Four of Training 02/10/2012

Day four was a pretty simple day for us in training at SNI (assuming you have a basic understanding of how to drive a 10-speed as well as do 45 degree backing). There was no classroom work today at all – JUST instruction in our small groups from our instructors. Practiced Pre/Post trip, Enroute Inspection, Coupling/Uncoupling, and then hit the road. Like I mentioned earlier, Green Bay got around 5″ of snow this morning, so the roads weren’t the best, but I didn’t experience any problems (just have to slow a little more/sooner than in good conditions). A few four-wheelers had some issues though!

Both myself as well as my co-trainee each drove for about an hour around the “city” of Green Bay. Some good practice for sure. After lunch, went out to the yard for some backing maneuvers. Have that down pretty well. Only had to do two or three pull ups in the hour I was practicing.

I left training early today to go to the Greyhound station. The bus station closes before training is over each day, so I had to go pick up my ticket for Sunday. I am heading to MI to meet up with my TE (training instructor) for 5 days over-the-road training. (Going out with a TE is what anyone’s second week of training would be, and for it is 5-7 days long) After my week with the TE, it’s to Indy next Monday for my finishing classroom work and testing. Then it’s time to start working – and making money!

All in all, after the 4th day of training, I feel very confident that I am going to do well the next two weeks of training, and overall, succeed well at the OTR position I am going to be doing for SNI.

Now it’s time for bed! 5AM comes quick. Will write more tomorrow.

Day Three of Training 02/09/2012

Pretty simple/easy day today, but very useful. Spent the majority of the day with my co-trainee and my instructor. We went over pre-trip inspection, coupling, uncoupling, sliding 5th wheel, and sliding tandem in the morning. Then we did some simulators practicing what to do in a skid, a steer tire blowout, and down grade stab braking. In the afternoon, did some more maneuverability and went out on the road for a while – we each got to drive for about an hour or so. My instructor has been awesome and has helped answer any questions that we have had. Great day.

For the last hour or so, some of the training managers came in and told us some of what to expect for next week with the TE (Training Engineer). I found out who I am assigned to, and that I have to take a bus to Detroit on Sunday to meet up with him. Not too excited about a bus ride, but I am in no way, shape, or form complaining. I am excited to get all the training and knowledge that I have been getting so that I can have a good experience with this company, and a successful career in trucking down the road.

Oh yeah. Got my company fuel card today, and officially got hired!

More tomorrow… Hittin the sack early tonight!

Day Two of Training 02/08/2012

So today went very well at Green Bay’s SNI Orientation (For me, anyhow). The day started off with some classroom training on some pretty basic logging instructions and stuff, got some “homework” which we will use to answer the questions on an upcoming test on Saturday, and then we got hooked up with an instructor.

There were 2-3 of us which each instructor, and I lucked out and am in a team of two, so there is more attention per person. The instructor is awesome who actually took time to get to know each of us – a real personable guy. Went over the “Schneider way” of doing the pre-trip inspection, their way to couple and uncouple, and then did some basic slow maneuvers. Spent some time doing 45 degree backing, then the instructor did the on-road demo which we will tackle tomorrow.

Pretty easy day overall, and definitely useful to help me become a more confident driver at SNI.I definitely am encouraged to ask ANY questions that I might have, and any staff that I have encountered thus far has been more than willing to help out.

I really have not one single complaint about this company so far, and it’s definitely keeping me encouraged that I made the right choice by coming on board here at SNI.

Now just waiting til Friday when I (hopefully) will officially be hired…

More tomorrow.