The impact of service technology on the technician

The impact of service technology on the technician


Like all things in the trucking world, technology is rapidly advancing new solutions. Change is constant, and who doesn’t love change? I can see you grimacing at the word, but there are big gains to be had if you embrace change and work through the transition pain points of a new process.

This can be seen in Penske’s new voice-directed preventative maintenance process, which FST went into detail on here.

“This new system is huge step up for both techs and the supervisors. It’s amazing,” said Terry Wilcox, Penske district service manager. “Technicians have to keep up with the technology because it is put in front of them immediately. Supervisors can fall behind, but with our new tablets, they’re working side-by-side.”

The voice-assisted system also lends itself to a younger technician demographic, which can help streamline the training process and free up experienced techs.

“If I’m a new technician out of school, doing a voice-assisted PM—so I’ve gone through all the training and certification—if I’m not quite sure of some of the details when I’m out on the shop floor, all I have to do is say, ‘Help,’ and it walks me through the steps,” explained Tony Popple, Penske senior director for maintenance. “And for the tech two level, tech three level, it’s a knowledge management piece to lean on.”

It’s not just huge, system-wide, bleeding-edge technology investments that Penske is leveraging. The company takes advantages of today’s digital work to help keep technicians up to snuff and that includes producing their own how-to YouTube video archive.

“We converted a shop into a studio and walk our technicians through a turbo change, for example, or any job that we find that we can streamline in the form of a YouTube video,” Popple said.

Those videos are just one piece of the content puzzle that is Penske’s Digital Tech Assist, a database of service content that technicians can search by equipment complaint and pull up information relevant to a truck’s specific make, model and year.

“If they don’t find the answer there, then the technician can call our Virtual Diagnostic Assistance team,” said Gregg Mangione, Penske’s senior vice president of maintenance, who explained that the team is focused on analyzing fault codes and diagnostics. “As they’re seeing emerging trends—that’s the new frontier now: It’s no longer as much mechanical failures as it is electronic failures—those folks are publishing information for our database.”

If a tech is stumped, she can call the team, who can remotely access the diagnostic information on that specific truck to see what she’s seeing and walk her through every possible fix.

“After that, you’re at the point where you’re going to send the unit to a dealer—hours now become days—and you’re going to substitute the vehicle with another Penske truck for the customer,” Mangione said. “That’s why the big uptime gain comes with improving preventative maintenance and getting trucks fixed right the first time.”

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