Once again, the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) will hold its national technician skills competition - TMCSuperTech2010 - in conjunction with its annual fall meeting, September 20 to 23 at the Raleigh Convention Center in Raleigh, NC. The theme for the fall meeting is “Quality Control in Maintenance Operations.”
This will be the sixth annual TMCSuperTech. The two-day competition has been specifically designed to showcase a technician’s diagnostic and problem-solving skills though a series of troubleshooting tests and challenges - both written and hands-on.
The TMCSuperTech has been likened to an Olympic competition where competitors come to win but revel in the camaraderie and excitement. It is organized by the Professional Technician Development Committee (PTDC), a group within TMC established to promote professionalism of commercial vehicle technicians.
The first phase of the TMCSuperTech is a complicated 100-question written multiple-choice examination and a hands-on skill pre-qualification test. From here, the top 100 or so scorers advance to the Hands-On Skills Challenge - a series of stations that cover 14 key diagnostic skills areas. Each 25-minute-long skill station has its own set of challenges.
From each TMCSuperTech a grand champion is named. The top competitor from each skill station is recognized as well. All top winners receive valuable prizes.
The number of competitors for the Hands-On Skills Challenge is limited to the top 100 or so for the time being because of logistics, says Carl Kirk, executive director of TMC. There are more than 150 judges for the TMCSuperTech activities and moving all of the competitors from skills station to skills station can be problematic.
Beyond that there is the task of scoring all of the competitors. Last year, 82 competitors went on to take part in the Hands-On Skills Challenge. That meant judges had to grade 1,148 performances by competitors.
Among other things, grades are based on speed and accuracy in such things as inspection, diagnosis, measurement, troubleshooting, adjustment, service, recommendation and repairs.
“TMCSuperTech was an initiative to recognize the technicians in our industry,” Kirk says. “It is not widely known the amount of time and effort technicians go through to stay current on new technologies and trucks and components. It equals or exceeds the pace of a lot of professionals in other industries.
“The complexity and range of knowledge that today’s commercial vehicle technicians need to have is amazing.”
While there has long been a national competition for drivers to demonstrate their skills, knowledge and professionalism through a series of tests, there was nothing on a national scale to recognize the technicians for their integral importance to trucking, he explains. What better group than the TMC to create an industry-wide competition dedicated both to honoring technician professionalism and acknowledging the best of the best.
The TMC is a technical council of American Trucking Associations, the largest national trade association for the trucking industry. The mission of the TMC is to improve transport equipment, its maintenance and maintenance management.
It does this by developing industry Recommended Engineering and Maintenance Practices, and by promoting the voluntary cooperation among designers and manufacturers of transport equipment and those who specify, purchase and manage such equipment.
The venue for TMCSuperTech became the TMC Annual Fall Meeting. It was the perfect fit, according to Kirk.
“We’ve been very pleased by the response and sponsorship from the industry to TMCSuperTech, says Kirk. “It is going to be an ongoing event.”