Shifting Gears to Automated Transmissions: A New Generation of Trucks

By Rob Reich Sep 28, 2017

It’s time for manual clutching and shifting to head on down the highway. I’m excited to report that Schneider recently passed the halfway mark in our fleet-wide implementation of automated transmission trucks, replacing manual transmission trucks. Along the way, the company has also transformed the industry and the associates it brings into its ranks: The influx of more energy-efficient and easier-to-operate tractors opens the door even wider for those considering a career in truck driving.

We began testing a variety of automated transmission tractors in 2007, so we had a lot of experience under our belts when we decided in 2015 to start transforming the fleet. Since then, we’ve been very impressed with the dependability of these tractors. In fact, we’ve had fewer maintenance issues with them than we’ve had with manual transmission tractors, which is not what we expected. We’re extremely pleased with the performance of these vehicles – and more importantly, so are our drivers.

Jim Czachor, a longtime Schneider driver, was part of the pilot fleet that initially tested the new shifting technology. “At first I wondered what I got myself into, so I asked my dispatcher, ‘If I absolutely can’t stand this, can I have my 10-speed manual back?’ Well, long story short, there’s no way I’d ever go back to a manual transmission,” Czachor said.

"Once I got in the automated truck, I fell in love with it."

Fellow Schneider driver Pam Taylor agrees: “I learned how to drive on a manual tractor in truck driving school, but I’ve been driving an automated tractor since shortly after I joined Schneider. Once I got in the automated truck, I fell in love with it, and I prefer it over a manual any day! It’s easier to drive, and I feel safer behind the wheel because it allows me to keep my focus on the road.”

Today, every new tractor Schneider purchases comes standard with an automated transmission. The full-fleet transformation is expected to be completed in 2019.

For new drivers in the industry who have been trained exclusively on automated transmissions, Schneider is one of the few carriers able to guarantee you will be assigned a tractor equipped with this technology. Gone are the days of manual shifting!

Picturing yourself behind the wheel of an automated transmission big rig? Learn more about automated transmissions and Schneider’s other equipment and technology.

Do you have any questions about automated transmissions? Comment below.

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About the Author

Rob Reich IMG
Rob Reich is senior vice president of equipment, maintenance and driver recruiting at Schneider. Reich began his professional career with Schneider in 1992 and has since served in several leadership roles. Prior to joining Schneider, Reich served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Reich served in Desert Storm and successfully led a 63-soldier signal platoon with no resulting casualties. Reich holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Pennsylvania State University and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh. 

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