WheelTime launches “Total Tech” Training to combat technician shortage

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Updated Sep 26, 2014

Navistar techWheelTime Network says it recently launched “Total Tech,” a new WheelTime University training series.  “Total Tech” is a series of on-line training and certification modules that uses tools and focus inspired by the TMC SuperTech competition.  The program was developed under the direction of George Arrants, a well-known industry educator and accreditation leader, and is designed to simultaneously enhance the scope of work, work quality and work speed of WheelTime’s more than 3,500 truck and motor coach technicians. Arrants will serve as Program Director for WheelTime University’s coursework and training. 

“With 3,500 technicians working at 200 shops throughout North America, network consistency in the quality of service and technical proficiency is paramount to the WheelTime Network and its members,” said Mike Delaney, network president and CEO.  “We promise quality everywhere we do business, and the sheer size of our network creates training and consistency challenges.  Since competition – in any field – drives measurable breakthroughs in efficiency, we decided to look at industry technical competitions for best practices in skill development.  We didn’t have to look any further than TMC SuperTech to find them.”

According to Arrants, who has chaired the TMC SuperTech competition since its inception 10 years ago, major fleets have increasingly used TMC SuperTech, as well as the regional and private competitions that lead up to it, as an effective means for developing higher skills and productivity within their own shops.  “Creating an intense competition around defined ASE modules and standards at TMC SuperTech puts the focus squarely on fast problem solving with consistency and proven methodologies,” said Arrants.  “Gearing up for the competition generates measurable shop productivity gains.”

“The impact of TMC SuperTech on the truck service and repair industry has been significant,” said Delaney.  “For those who understand what’s happening behind the scenes, it is very exciting.  As we watched fleets evolve from average to outstanding competitors, we could see that techniques were evolving that could be replicated outside of the competition. It is the ability to continuously measure and improve levels of skill in a methodical, duplicable way that really caught our attention.”

WheelTime’s “Total Tech” series offers a platform for training on a wide range of commercial vehicle makes and models.  Developed in conjunction with Cengage Learning, “Total Tech” is designed to give techs the knowledge and skills needed to work with today’s advanced diagnostics tools and vehicle operating systems. Its focus on “all-makes” total truck and coach service training was identified as the number one need for the Network, and plans call for “Total Tech” to be expanded in the future to include some of the newer, fast growth areas for the network, such as alternative fuels.

“The key to great techs lies in their ability to see the pattern with the fewest number of dots,” said Delaney.  “In other words, they have the knowledge to decode problems quickly.”  “WheelTime’s ASE grounded “Total Tech” programs include tools, theories and key learnings that are designed to accelerate the decoding process and ensure a correct fix the first time.”

“Everyone measures fuel and route efficiency as well as load or asset profitability,” said Arrants. “But most organizations struggle to measure training … and you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Training needs to be developed with measurements for specific outcomes to ensure it provides increased profitability through cost savings, reduced come-backs, speed and overall increased productivity.”

Studies from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) show that over 80% of fleets feel ASE trained techs are more accurate in their work and more likely to fix problems right on the first try.  The study also showed that 75% of fleets find ASE trained techs are more able to handle difficult jobs, and 62% of fleets surveyed say the ASE certified techs have a better attitude toward their work.

“With our primary objective being quality consistency everywhere,” said Delaney, “it made sense to use the established ASE methodology as the basis for the Total Tech program.”

In addition to following ASE’s focus on theory, knowledge and diagnostics, WheelTime University coursework will include assessments, with both online and hands-on training and certification. WheelTime University courses will also train techs to work with systems and processes that are unique to the WheelTime Network, such as the standardized use of Cojali all-makes diagnostics tools and the WheelTime LINQ system for accessing defined maintenance operations, repair histories and VMRS codes.  Techs trained through the WheelTime University “Total Tech” program will be evaluated on both their current knowledge prior to training and their retention of information following completion of the program.

“Top techs know that to remain strong they have to stay abreast of today’s accelerating developments,” added Delaney.  “We believe our investment in continuous training will help WheelTime members attract and retain the best and the brightest. Data shows it will also lead to speed and shop throughout improvements and will help us to deliver on our consistent quality promise wherever in our network a customer needs help.”

“Adding George Arrants to the team has been a tremendous help,” said Delaney.  “Nobody understands the connection between assessment, standards and productivity like George.”   Arrants co-authored an instruction manual for technical schools which assists them in achieving NATEF/ASE certification.  He has also worked with the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration where he led the automotive strategic development team that advised the agency’s High Growth Job Training Initiative and he received a grant from them to “Upgrade Automotive Programs” while working for Snap-On and partnering with Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, WI.  As part of the grant, he assisted the agency in improving the curriculum and training facility of the national automotive services Job Corps program to achieve NATEF/ASE accreditation.

“The fact that WheelTime is investing in its members and its members are investing in their employees can only be a good thing,” said Arrants.  “Tech education is the key to improvements across the board for WheelTime customers and the network.  It demonstrates commitment to shop professionalism and positively impacts tech retention as well as performance.”

“WheelTime University’s Total Tech program offers an unprecedented solution for WheelTime members, customers and technicians,” said Delaney.  “Our network infrastructure and systems are largely in place.  Investments in technician training are critical to get us to the next level, and to our long term success.”