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Start your alt-fuel training efforts today

May 2, 2023
Trucking must start developing technician training programs today so that they can acquire the skills needed to maintain and repair the vehicles of tomorrow.

We are in the midst of an exciting time in trucking. There are so many technological developments percolating throughout our industry. Look at all the options when it comes to powering commercial vehicles—diesel, battery-electric, hydrogen fuel cell, hydrogen internal combustion, renewable diesel, compressed natural gas, and biodiesel.

Admittedly, some of these technologies are further along their development S-curve, but some intelligent people are working on addressing the challenges of each of these options. In addition, financial investments are being made to support the refinement and development of these new powertrains.

There is even work being done on developing charging and fueling infrastructure for alternative fuel vehicles to address one of the biggest barriers to their adoption. However, I am not hearing too much on efforts to ensure that technicians are properly trained to work on these trucks. I do know that the Technology & Maintenance Council is beginning to develop some Recommended Practices surrounding safely servicing alternative fuel vehicles.

See also: Evolving maintenance for EVs

For the foreseeable future, it is likely that fleets will have a variety of powertrain options in their vehicles—whether because of government mandates or because of their own commitments to the more sustainable movement of freight.

Dealers, leasing companies, repair garages, and fleets need to be aware of not only the training guidelines for technicians but also the physical shop requirements for each fuel source.

We need to start developing technician training programs today so that technicians can acquire the skills needed to maintain and repair the vehicles of tomorrow safely and effectively. Given the fact that many fleets are operating older vehicles, I know that technicians are constantly busy keeping current assets on the road, but we still need to find time to start our training efforts.

Fleets should work with vehicle manufacturers to develop training modules and materials that will allow your technicians to develop the skills they need to be confidently work on these vehicles. The good news is that even though powertrain options are expanding, some of the tried-and-true maintenance and repair items like brakes and tires will likely not change, so training can focus on the powertrain itself.

See also: Experts detail building blocks of EV charging

I am optimistic that all of the new technology coming into our industry will make it easier for us to attract the next generation of technicians. We’ll be able to do this for two reasons.

The first is because the younger generation is tech savvy and will be excited to work on vehicles that have cutting-edge technology.

The second is that many younger people want to work for companies that are demonstrating a commitment to the environment and the industry’s move to cleaner goods movement could change the way they view trucking.

Patrick Gaskins, senior VP of Corcentric Fleet Solutions, oversees both sales and operations for the company's fleet offerings. Gaskins joined the company in 2010, bringing more than 30 years of experience as a financial services professional in the transportation industry. He leads a team that works with a supply base of more than 160 manufacturers to help the country’s largest fleets manage all aspects of their fleet operations and fleet-related spending.

About the Author

Patrick Gaskins | Senior vice president, Fleet Solutions

Patrick Gaskins is a financial services professional serving the transportation industry for over 30 years. Gaskins earned his BBA in Finance from the University of Miami, FL in 1989, and received his CTP certification from the National Private Truck Council in 2002. He has held positions with GE Capital, TCF Equipment Finance, and various small independent lessors. 

He began his career with Corcentric in 2010 as Vice President of Financial Services, was promoted to Senior Vice President of Sales and Operations, and is now taking the role of Senior Vice President, Fleet Solutions.  In his new role he will lead Corcentric’s Captial Equipment Solutions, Fleet Procurement, Supply Management, and Remarketing teams. Gaskins will bring to the Fleet practice his expertise in developing data driven solutions to complex transportation transactions, driving efficiencies, and reducing expenses for Corcentric’s customers.

The Fleet Solutions practice leverages technology and the purchasing power of over 1,700 member fleets operating approximately 800,000 assets to provide its members with access to cost effective national account purchasing programs, fleet financing, asset management, and remarketing services.

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