Hauls & Loads & Miles… O My!

Howdy yet again from the road! JJ here, bringing more Nerdy Facts O’ Truckin’ to ya. If there are ever any specific questions you have, please drop ’em in the comment section and I promise to answer them from my experiential viewpoint.

I have been a company driver for Schneider ( the big orange boxes ) since March 2020. I am a “Solo, OTR, VanTruckload” driver. What does all that exactly mean? Let me see if I can help you visualize this a bit.

Overall:

The trucking industry is so full of opportunities that there is virtually a perfect fit for anyone wanting to drive. Finding that fit, however, is an ongoing challenge for me. I most certainly was not able to wrap my head around it when I first embarked on this career path, and found that I needed to just jump in somewhere, and sort it as I went. That was another reason why I gave Schneider a good look when I was looking for companies to apply to; they haul a lot of different types of trailers and loads and so I knew I had the opportunity to try different things within the same company. I know the value of longevity and held no interest in jumping around from company to company as I tried to learn this industry.

Small Glossary of terms:

Carrier: My employer Schneider is a Carrier of Mixed Goods

Shipper: This is who hires The Carrier

Consignee: This is typically who receives the goods that The Shipper hired The Carrier to carry.

What to Pull:

  • Tanker Trailers
    • Haul bulk product; both dry and liquid. Could be flour, could be dish detergent, perfume components, gasoline, polymers, food ingredients, chemicals, explosives, so much more.
  • Dry Vans
    • Haul extensive variety of non-temperature controlled goods, very often loaded on pallets, typically 53’ in length.
  • Refrigerated Vans
    • For goods that need temperature control, but also can haul non-temperature controlled goods, also typically 53’ plus a generator unit.
  • Flat Beds
    • Haul wide variety of goods, Some flat beds have a curtain side, some loads are tarped, and some loads are not covered.
  • Ship/Rail Containers
    • Goods are moved the majority of their distance by rail or by ship, and then moved to and from rail yards to nearby distribution centers or other yards.
  • Heavy Haul / Oversize
  • Doubles and Triples
    • These are usually 43’ trailers coupled together can be called LTL (Less Than Truckload) and can be multiple stops, where the drivers may drop a single trailer at different locations, or could have multiple stops sectioned off within each trailer.

What Tractor to pull these with:

  • Sleeper
    • Has a bunk behind the cockpit, and vary in configurations to house fridges, TVs, Microwaves, Power Units, HVAC, and are for living in the truck for different periods of time. Can be tall or ‘mid-roof’ depending on aerodynamic needs of what the tractor is pulling. Some tankers are only about 12′ in height, so they could be pulled by a mid roof. Vans are usually 13’6″ making the tall (sky) roof more aerodynamically desirable.
  • Day Cab
    • Just the cockpit, no rear bunk or comfort area, and used when drivers are home every day.
Rail/Ship container, Tanker with Mid-roof Sleeper Tractor, DryVan with tall Sleeper Tractor

Where to Pull them:

  • Long Haul-OTR
    • Over The Road and across several states per load. Usually out for two, three or more weeks at a time.
  • Dedicated Routes
    • Usually one account and specific routes from their distribution centers to their store, sometimes with multiple stop offs in one load. Their driver can be out a couple of days, or maybe out for a week, but either way they usually get home daily or weekly.
  • Regionally
    • A regional driver is usually out for a week, returning home every weekend.

Who to pull them with

  • Solo
    • Alone in the cab, or might have a non-driving companion for company.
  • Teaming
    • Team drivers rotate shifts to keep trucks moving so they can reach a lengthy destination quickly. Each driver is still subject to the HOURS OF SERVICE regulations, but while one is taking their mandatory break, the other/s will drive.

Who to pull them for:

  • Company Driver
    • Tractor & load liabilities all lie with the company and the company driver will be dispatched to pick up and deliver loads per company needs.
  • Lease-On Driver
    • This driver is responsible for all things related to their tractor, and is basically leasing to purchase within a specified period. They “Lease-on” with a certain carrier, and the advantage there is that carrier will broker loads and offer them out on a load board of some sort. This driver will chose their own loads. They do receive a higher gross pay, but all the expenses, income taxes, insurances, and lease payments are on the driver. Typically paid on a per load basis (not cents-per-mile or daily rate)
  • Owner Operator
    • This driver is the most independent. They own their own tractor, (whether they have a loan, lease or not). These drivers haul for any shipper, but they will need the experience on how to broker loads themselves.

Driver Compensations:

  • Cents-per mile
  • Daily Rate:
    • Account/Shipper driven rate to be on-call and drive as loads are ready for dispatch at the shipper’s distribution center. I’ve seen drivers need to swing shift at times in this type of work as they manage their Hours of Service clocks (HOS) against strict delivery appointments.
  • Hourly Rate
  • Percent of Load
    • Used most in Lease-On and Owner Operator realms. Not usually available to a company driver
  • Accessorial Pay
    • There are some tasks associated with certain accounts or type of trailer being pulled, where a driver can earn this type of pay. Examples are: driver off-loading, multiple stops within a trailer/load, to name just two.

Time On / Time Off:

  • Home Daily
    • Can you deduce which type of tractor (from above) this driver will use?
  • Home Weekly
    • Can you deduce which type of tractor (from above) this driver will use?
    • How about which types of “Where” will they go?
  • Out 2 Weeks/3 Weeks
    • Can you deduce which type of tractor (from above) this driver will use when hauling a Dry Van?
    • Can you deduce which type of tractor (from above) this driver will use when hauling a Standard Tanker?
    • How about which types of “Where” will they go?
  • Out No Boundaries
    • I heard chatter on my CB the other day of a driver saying he was headin’ home, and that he’d been out for four months!

Rookie alert:

I believe I shared the following notion with fellow rookies when first starting out:

We, in our ambitious minds, said, “I want ‘X’, ‘X’, and ‘X’, maybe ‘Y’, but definitely not ‘Z'”.

While the X-Y-Z’s are different for all, the common thread is thinking we can just cherry-pick the components we desire, go get hired, and boom we’re all set. Not so! The notion of the easy-peasy perfect mix is not only misguided, but I’ve found for myself that it evolves as I experience more out here.

I know there was a lot to this post, but sometimes I am writing a blog post so I can link to it in my books. It allows my book readers the option of “digging deeper” when they wish to, and keep my books lighter and simpler and more hand-out friendly. So that’s this type of post. Not all may be interested in it, but those that are, can hopefully go away with a little bit of knowledge. Since this is all my own personal experience, if there are glaring defects please drop them in the comments.

Cheers to all…. This is Artsy… over and out!

xx

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