The Spoils of Victory

Last year's skills station winners are enjoying their prizes.


“They really wouldn’t hold up in the shop, with dust and bumps and things like that,” he says. “We had a couple of them go out, but (the Toughbook) is holding up real well.”

Maverick Transportation maintenance training manager Claudio Garcia says the Toughbook has made a definite difference in the shop, helping everyone from the novice technician to an award-winner like Marinac.

“We were having to spend so much time with old computers, getting them up and running and having issues,” Garcia says. “When the Toughbook came along, it worked out great. They clean up good, and we have not had any issues with the durability. Now we don’t throw ‘em around, but it could fall on the floor. It does have a lot more exposure for damage than even a personal computer.”

After 33 years on the job, Michael Bogard, Ryder System technician out of Neenah, WI, knows what works in the shop and what doesn’t. Bogard’s SuperTech legend continues to grow after his third straight year of earning the top score on the written exam, adding a Toughbook to his “toolbox” after last year’s honor. He says it is a reliable piece of equipment that helps make his job easier.

“I really like the fact that the screen, you can spin it when you open the cover and change it so it’s like a flat notepad, and the touch screen is really nice, versus trying to move a mouse around and click on stuff,” he says. “That really makes it helpful.”

Ryder outfits all its technicians in the Neenah service bay with Toughbooks, which Bogard says makes life easier.

“When we go out on a service call, they want something that’s a little more durable because that’s being put in a pick-up truck and carried out into the field, and it’s going to be set up outside,” he says. “And inside the shop environment is not the cleanest and most friendly environment, so you’ve got to have something that can take a little bumping around and stuff like that. I don’t know of a problem we’ve had with them yet.”

ESSENTIAL TOOL

While most technicians probably had never heard of a laptop computer when he started back in the mid-’70s, today they are an absolute necessity for the modern shop, Bogard says. A technician who is not using a dependable laptop is not going to work as efficiently or effectively as the same technician who is using one.

“With this laptop hooked up to the Internet, (technicians are) able to change the program when the new updates come, and they can do them throughout the country, because we’re all on-line, and they can put in the up-to-date manuals as the changes come along,” Bogard says. “That’s probably the biggest thing because today’s stuff changes from year-to-year so much, so what was new last year is going to be different next year. To have the current manual is very, very important in troubleshooting today.”

The SuperTech2007 Brakes Skills Station winner, Rich Zacholl of Swift Transportation in Syracuse, NY, has gotten plenty of use from his winnings.

“I use the Toughbook regularly, and the Noregon software, I liked it,” he says. “I liked the way the desktop was set up on it and how you could interlink the different programs.”

Like many busy technicians, Zacholl has accidentally dropped laptops in the shop before, damaging their hard drives, but he no longer worries about that with the Toughbook.

“I haven’t had a problem with it getting dirty or damaged at all,” he says.

Besides its durability in a tough shop environment, the Toughbook is also easy to use and handle, increasing his productivity and helping make his work day a bit less complicated, Zacholl says.

“It’s a small laptop, and one of the things I like about it is you can turn the screen so you can actually read it at letter size, rather than having to scroll down through the page, you can flip the screen right on top of the book, and it’s like you’re reading a page right out of a book, which is really nice,” he says. “A lot of people are going with laptops because there’s so much information right now—I have a lot of my service manuals downloaded onto it, and troubleshooting and my fault code lists.”

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