Last week’s TMC SuperTech National Technician Skills Competition, held in conjunction with the American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council 2015 Fall Meeting, helps foster interest in truck maintenance careers at a time when many fleets are in need of technicians. By 2022, according to ATA, the trucking industry will need more than 140,000 new technicians and diesel engine specialists.
“TMC SuperTech was started more than a decade ago to highlight the skills of this too-often under appreciated group of individuals,” said Carl Kirk, ATA vice president of maintenance, information technology and logistics. “For 11 years, it has highlighted the skills and professionalism displayed in our industry by technicians. This event is a great chance to shine a light on these opportunities in our industry.”
This year, TMC SuperTech brought together 145 truck technicians who qualified on 12 stations dealing with 14 hands-on challenges as they vied for the title of Grand Champion. The competition also featured the second TMC FutureTech student competition, which allowed 38 aspiring truck technicians still in school to test their skills alongside some of the most experienced and skilled individuals in the field.
Participating at TMC SuperTech this year were 13 Ryder System technicians, including the top eight finalists from the company’s annual Top Technician Recognition Program (Top Tech). The program, designed to identify, recognize, and reward Ryder’s top performing technicians, is open to eligible participants from the company’s more than 5,000 U.S. and Canadian-based technicians.
After advancing through three increasingly demanding rounds of written and hands-on tests, eight Top tech finalists compete for the top honors. The final competition consists of 10 hands-on skill tests including challenges covering vehicle electronics, preventive maintenance and air conditioning.
Ryder has also announced it has donated $20,000 to the Universal Technical Institute Foundation to help meet the urgent and growing demand for trained diesel technicians. The funds will support students who attend the Universal Technical Institute (UTI) campus in Lisle, Illinois.
As part of its relationship with UTI, Ryder held a “Next Top Tech Challenge” at the UTI-Lisle campus. At the event, nine UTI students worked alongside Ryder technicians to participate in technical challenge stations and took a written exam to test their knowledge and skills based on various mechanical failures.
“The automotive and diesel technicians we train can diagnose, repair, and maintain the complex, high-tech systems that power today’s vehicles and play a critical role in helping companies manage the costs of their fleet and transportation systems,” said Ian Hardie, employment services director at UTI-Lisle. “Organic growth in the industry and the looming retirement of Baby Boomer employees means the demand for these highly skilled employees has never been stronger.”
Technician competitions bring other benefits for fleets as well. “During TMC SuperTech, technicians display the skills they use every day at their jobs," said George Arrants, chairman of TMC's technician competition task force. “Since we began this program, fleets have reported to us that maintenance and overtime costs, and on-road breakdowns have dropped.”