Electric trucks are coming. There will be a place for these trucks in our transportation community and as maintenance people, we need to evolve. There are a bunch of questions to consider with electric trucks rolling into your operation. Sure, we talk about acquisition costs and charging capabilities, but what about the costs to charge the trucks? What about subsidies? Utilization efficiency? Payload impacts? Battery lifecycles and disposal? And perhaps the biggest question for the maintenance-minded: What about training?
At TMC’s last meeting in 2022, the demand for EV maintenance training was voiced. We need training for everything from personal protective equipment like special gloves to things that we don’t give a second thought to today like working in the rain or dropping a screwdriver. Do we need to segregate electric truck bays and working areas? All of these concerns are real in today’s trucking world and we have to raise the bar on training.
Honestly, the biggest fear that we all have to admit to ourselves is a lack of basic electrical system knowledge. Yes–basic electrical. I asked someone whom I consider one of the most experienced electrical trainers with a real-world understanding of technician knowledge: What percentage of techs have a strong grasp on electrical system basics on today’s diesel trucks? He replied that 50% of technicians/mechanics do not understand basic electricity.
It shouldn’t come at a surprise, but I trust his opinion and the answer is still shocking. (Pun intended.)
In our industry, we still do not understand basic battery maintenance and starter and relay functions. We can’t see the electrical current. We struggle with multiplexing and solenoids that fail after we replace four batteries. Then a starter fails. We need training–especially with electric trucks with 480 volts, big, heavy cables and basic solenoids. Technicians need to understand:
• relays; and, the big one…
• the impact of corrosion.
Technicians need to understand electrical systems as well as, if not better, than the diesel powertrains they service today. As a fleet or service manager, you don’t want to pay the cost of replacing an electric motor because you didn’t understand the basics of the electric system.
You don’t have to wait for EVs to start electrical training. This is training you can start today. Consider how electronically controlled today’s trucks are–your techs will benefit from stronger electrical system knowledge starting day one of training if you drill it into their heads. They’ll be ready for the bigger electrical systems powering electric trucks, and you won’t fear adding electric trucks to your fleet. Start today, and I’ll even tell you where to start:
Find the answer to why you have so many no-starts.
Drill the electrical system basics until you know why and aren’t just guessing.