Access to many scan tools helps with the maintenance of the newer vehicles, according to Lauret.
"We're in a big enough place where we're lucky to have proprietary scanners. We have enough people and enough vehicles that we're using them all the time," he says.
Chuck Roberts of the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) says that it's imperative for technicians today to have experience with electronics integration on automobiles.
"Without an understanding of the electronic controls of almost any system on an automobile, you won't be able to diagnose it," Roberts says. "I think the skill set that the competent technician has to possess is really one moving from being a mechanical skill to understanding electricity, electronics, and how they control the various functions of the systems in the vehicle."
"RETURN ON INSTRUCTION"
"There's some excellent training out there. I don't think there's any problem with the training that has been developed for general automotive maintenance," says Al Ebron, president of the Automotive Training Managers Council (ATMC) and executive director of the national alternative fuel training consortium based out of West Virginia University.
Ebron says that one of the issues technicians face in being well-trained is that they are working in dealerships or in various fleet management organizations where taking time for training means taking time away from production and their day-to-day work. "So there's a balancing act of trying to get enough training time for the technicians and to produce the work the dealership might need," he says. "And that is exacerbated by a shortage of technicians across the nation right now."
Ebron says that the Internet has played a big role in keeping technicians updated on training and information.
"There are a number of training organizations out there, and a number of automotive trade organizations that keep their technicians trained. There are also a number of online Web sites to provide online communications to help the technicians obtain information and solve problems," he says.
"The Internet has provided some real-time and some extremely timely information for automotive technicians and those in the automotive industry."
Ebron's suggestion for managers to keep up-to date on training for their technicians: pay attention. "If I were a maintenance manager, I would pay attention to my own trade organization and information that comes from there and then follow-up," he says. "I would also find out what training is available and would be most appropriate for my technicians and employees. I would have a training program set up, to allow enough time for my employees to attend. And that is something I think that is extremely important in a maintenance program."
Ebron says that ATMC, the Automotive Training Managers Council, is another resource for automotive professionals. The ATMC is an organization founded in 1984 by automotive professionals, for technical, sales, marketing and training professionals to exchange training ideas and strategies. "Basically, the ATMC helps the automotive training industry and those who are doing actual training in the industry or those who might serve in the training industry," Ebron says.
"The members are interested in improving their 'ROI' or 'return on instruction,'" he continues. "This is done through networking and exchange of ideas for more effective training performance. We want our members to better train their customers and to understand and utilize the latest products and techniques."
SIMPLY THE BEST
Changes in the fleet maintenance industry are inevitable, and every shop must make accommodations or modifications in order to adjust accordingly. Each shop operates differently, with various levels of management, supervisory and technician experience. But almost all have similar goals: to operate their fleets with balance and efficiency.
Strong leadership and career guidance is important to operating and maintaining a fleet and employees, whether it's with a team of two or a crew of twenty. From a management standpoint, keeping up-to-date with trends and training will improve fleet technician skills and guide career growth, which will ultimately lead to success for everyone.