The skills and responsibilities of heavy truck technicians have always changed with the times — and today times are changing faster than ever before.
Maintaining a capable technician workforce in the coming years will require fleets, dealers and service shops to train their associates on new components and systems being spec’d into the equipment population as well as advanced maintenance and connectivity technologies developed to enhance equipment performance and reduce downtime.
In the future, techs won’t just be expected to replace parts, they’ll also be required to understand the technology that tells them why a part needs to be replaced.
New vehicle technology
From a spec’ing perspective, many technologies that appear destined to become industry mainstays have already been introduced.
Disc brakes take rates are on the rise across the fleet community, and both truck makers and brake suppliers believe disc brakes will replace drums as the heavy-duty trucking industry’s preferred stopping method within the next decade. Automated manual transmission acceptance also is on the rise, as is the industry’s transition toward slightly smaller diesel engines and alternative fuels, such as natural gas, hybrid and electric options.
Though diesel is expected to remain the dominant fuel source in the market for years to come, each of the aforementioned developments will require heavy truck technicians to expand their expertise to serve customers in the future.
“Now more than ever, those who will be repairing vehicles need to have up-to-date training and technical knowledge to ensure the repairs are done correctly,” says Brandon Eckenrode, director of development, Collision Repair Education Foundation, the technician recruitment arm of I-CAR. “For the same reason an individual would want a doctor to be properly trained if they were to be operating on you … the same goes with vehicles.”
New vehicle connectivity
Being a successful technician in the future trucking industry also will require a fundamental understanding of vehicle connectivity and the numerous technologies in development or already in use to better monitor equipment performance. In dealer and large fleet shops, this means understanding how to navigate and absorb data found in predictive maintenance portals.
All service providers also will be expected to understand how vehicle sensors and monitoring devices work in conjunction with one another. The idea of a connected truck does not exclusively refer to an asset’s real-time connection with a fleet terminal or OEM; it also refers to the interconnected systems onboard a truck and trailer that will link together to share data and maintain maximum vehicle performance.
States Isuzu Commercial Truck of America, “In some ways, vehicle connectivity will require technicians to be more aggressive with maintenance as the uptime expectation of the customer will only get higher.”
To read more from Part IV of our special report, please see below:
The next steps for service: A look into the industry’s future
Solving the unsolvable: The solution to trucking’s biggest problem isn’t obvious; the industry’s need for action is
A national challenge: Trucking isn’t the only industry facing an employment shortage
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