Transport America Orientation; Day 2

Today started off with getting our login information all squared away for the pay website as well as eServices.  The eServices website was made by the IT department specifically for drivers.  One of the coolest things the website does is it gives drivers the ability to get messages while they aren’t in the truck.  You can see all the messages sent to your Qualcomm (MCP200) from the website.  So let’s say you want to go get something to eat, but don’t want to leave the truck because you’re waiting for a load.  Well, now you can go get something to eat because you can just log on to the website and check.  It get’s better though.  You also have the ability to sign up for notifications.  So, you just add your email address in and when you get a load offer, you will get an email sent to you.  Very cool stuff.

We also were trained on the MCP200.  That’s the same system TMC uses, but Transport America does some things differently that I’ll have to get used to.  For instance, at TMC, we did Pre-Trip Inspections and had to log a minimum of 10 minutes.  Transport America calls them Safety Inspections and have to be logged a minimum of 15 minutes.  They said if you call it a Pre-Trip, by DOT regulations you have to do a Post-Trip.  I find that interesting because all I’ve ever done in Pre-Trip Inspections and never logged a Post-Trip.  The DOT has checked my logs many times and never said a thing.  That’s one thing that frustrates me about this industry.  We have regulations, but each company interprets them differently.  Which amazes me because if they are being inspected by the DOT or whomever, you would think it should all be the same.  The other reason they gave for calling it a Safety Inspection is because in a court of law, people don’t know what a Pre-Trip is.  But if you say Safety Inspection they do.  Um, ok…. Salute smartly Ty, and press on….

The other thing that is MAJORLY different is TMC uses WorkFlow to dispatch you on your trip.  WorkFlow is so easy to use and makes sense the way it’s laid out.  Well, Transport America doesn’t use that feature.  They send their trip information through the messages, plus you have to send in all these different Macros in when you arrive, load, unload, etc… WorkFlow takes care of all of that for you.  Honestly, at this point, I’m glad I’m on a dedicated account because the way they do it is confusing as hell right now.  I plan on finding out why they aren’t using WorkFlow though.

We also spent an hour or so going over MPG and how to get better MPG.  I’ve been driving for almost 5 years now, and it wasn’t until today that everything made complete sense to me when it came to shifting, throttle control, and RPMs.  We were shown the DYNO sheet for the engines that our trucks have to illustrate where the maximum torque was in the engine, etc.  What I learned is in these trucks I can actually shift at a lower RPM to keep the engine in it’s “sweet” spot.  Basically, you never want to go over 1,500 RPMs.  It’s that simple.  I realize none of that probably made any sense, but the bottom line is it finally all came together in my little brain.  He pulled up actual numbers of MPG for some of the drivers and most are getting between 8 and 9 MPG.  That is unreal to me.  I’m used to getting 5.5 to 6.  So, I’ve set an initial personal goal to never have anytime over 1,500 RPMs and to get 8 MPG.  Pretty sure I can hit that goal, especially since I’m on a dedicated run and just running up and down I-35.

Now for something that just blew me away; Transport America has a Rewards Website.  This is a website that has everything from cooking utensils to vacation packages.  Hell, I could get a Cub Cadet Riding lawnmower with my Reward Points.  The best part is, we get reward points for damn near everything we do.  In your first year, every quarter that you are a safe driver, you get 10,000 reward points.  That number goes up every year you’re here.  You also get reward points for completing mandatory training.  As he was showing us some of the different things on the website, I noticed that there was a Samsung Refrigerator for 269,780 points.  That Cub Cadet Riding Lawnmower I mentioned earlier was just under 700,000 points.  The easiest way to get some serious points is Driver Referral.  If you refer a driver and they are hired, complete orientation, and are with the company 6 months, you get 250,000 points.  So, you could get a new refrigerator for your house by referring one driver.  Now, the caveat is that you don’t get all 250,000 points right away.  I can’t remember the exact numbers but you get like 55,000 points when they complete orientation, 130,000 points when they have been here 45 days, and the remaining 65,000 points when they have been here 6 months.

Anyone want to take a guess at what I got at TMC for safe driving? I got a certificate each year and a Safe Driving Patch each year.  Yeah, those are in a folder in the filing cabinet.  What the hell am I going to do with a certificate and a patch.  TMC doesn’t even have required recurring training.  Although it really wouldn’t matter if they did because you wouldn’t get squat for it anyway other than your ass chewed for not completing it.

It may not seem like a big deal to some reading this, but Reward Program is pretty friggin awesome if you ask me.  I did some rough math in my head and had I started my driving career with this company, I could have that Cub Cadet in the garage right now.  Just in safe driving reward points alone.

The rest of the day is pretty much a blur, but those were the highlights.  Tomorrow morning we have to cover safe work methods and practices and not really sure what else.  What I do know though, is tomorrow afternoon we graduate, get our trucks assigned, and find out where we have to go to get them.  Stay tuned…..

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