Denise Rondini

Denise Rondini

Earlier this year, independent repair garages and fleets were given access to service information for model year 2010 and later trucks and buses over 10,000 pounds sold in the United States and Canada. Manufacturers had to make available — for a fee — as-built information that links to the vehicle’s VIN, and they had to make available the specialty tools needed to fix vehicles.

But the memorandum of understanding did not mean that the truck makers had to provide training.

“We were left with a hole in how to deal with this issue,” says Marc Karon, chairman of the Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network. “We now had all this access to technology, but how were we going to be able to use it if nobody was going to teach us?”

So the CVSN formed an alliance with three companies that provide technician training: ProMech Learning Systems, Service Professionals Inc., and WheelTime University.

“We decided this needed to be an industry-wide effort, not just for CVSN members,” Karon says. “The whole industry is suffering from this problem, including dealers in many cases because they are only getting training on their own particular nameplate, yet many dealers are all makes so they don’t know how to use software that applies to a truck they are not a franchise of.”

Mike Compisi, vice president of operations for ProMech Learning, explains, “There is a tremendous need for technical training, whether it is related to right to repair, ECM reflashing, etc. If you don’t know how to use the tools and complete the repairs, it can be detrimental and ultimately cost the fleet more money.”

Each training company in the alliance offers different options. Training is available on site, regionally and via the internet. The training is modular and includes beginning courses, ASE certification and things like engine repair procedures and computer diagnostics.

“We wanted the training to be cost effective,” Karon says. “It needed to be modular because not everybody in your shop needs to have all of this information.” A typical shop has technicians with different skill levels, and “you don’t need every technician to know how to reflash and ECM; you may only need one or two guys in your shop to actually do that.”

Compisi says that in some cases online content will be a prerequisite for instructor-led training. “While online training is the direction training is going to go, there are certain things you have to have hands on.” The online courses are designed to cover some fundamental concepts “so when guys come to the class they are not swimming upstream,” he says.

“We are trying to facilitate a broad understanding to diagnose a problem effectively and efficiently, regardless of whether it is a fleet maintenance person or an aftermarket maintenance person,” Compisi adds.

Karon suggests each shop review the websites of each of the training providers. “Do the due diligence; read the material to ensure you get what you want.”

Ultimately Karon hopes that the whole industry will be upgraded as a result of the alliance. “It will upgrade dealers, it will upgrade independent service providers, and it will upgrade fleets. More trucks will get their trucks fixed faster and there will be less downtime. The guy who owns and operates the vehicle is the net winner in this deal.”