An Opportunity To Strut Their Stuff

This year’s TMCSuperTech – the National Technician Skills Competition - is set for Sept. 9 to 12 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, PA. Put on by the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) (tmc.trucking.org), it will be the ninth annual industry-wide competition dedicated to honoring technician professionalism and to acknowledging the best of the best.

A technical council of the American Trucking Associations (www.trucking.org), the largest national trade association for the trucking industry, TMC is North America’s premier technical society for truck equipment technology and maintenance professionals. Its mission is to improve transport equipment, its maintenance and maintenance management.

 

DEMONSTRATE

The TMCSuperTech is a two-day event expressly designed so technicians can exhibit their knowledge, skills and aptitude with medium and heavy duty commercial vehicles. It was organized by the Professional Technician Development Committee (PTDC) - a group within TMC established to promote and enhance the professionalism of commercial vehicle technicians.

The National Technician Skills Competition involves a series of both written and hands-on diagnostic and problem-solving tests and challenges to assess both theory and practical application. The technicians that perform the best win tops honors and numerous prizes.

Any actively employed commercial vehicle technician may participate in the competition.

The TMCSuperTech has been likened to an Olympic competition because while competitors come to win, they revel in the camaraderie and excitement.

Fleet Maintenance (www.vehicleservicepros.com) is proud to be a Platinum Sponsor of the TMCSuperTech.

As usual, the TMCSuperTech will be held in combination with TMC’s annual fall meeting. Precision Maintenance is the theme for this year’s meeting. (This is covered elsewhere this issue.)

 

COMPETE

There are two phases to every TMCSuperTech: pre-qualification and the finals. The pre-qualifying process for this year’s competition, taking place on Monday, Sept. 9, has been expanded to include both written examinations and hands-on skills workstations.

The qualifying written exams are complicated multiple-choice questions based on tests prepared by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) (https://www.ase.com). ASE is a non-profit organization that works to improve the quality of vehicle repair and service by testing and certifying automotive professionals.

New for this year are 11 hands-on skills workstations, each of which must be completed in 25 minutes. This was done to accommodate the increase in registered contestants and, most importantly, to increase the value to both the contestants and their employers, says Robert Braswell, TMC’s technical director.

“The change in format for this year’s competition affords our planning committee an opportunity to revamp our various skills stations, retiring some venerable favorites for a while and introducing new stations,” he notes. “The changes will allow new skills to be measured and perhaps force some competitors out of their comfort zone.”

Those 11 stations are:

  • ASE.
  • Fasteners.
  • Recommended Practices
  • Manuals.
  • Wiring Diagrams.
  • CSA Compliance (formerly Repair Order).
  • Electrical.
  • Safety & Environmental.
  • Wheel End.
  • CNG Safety.
  • Precision Measuring.
  • Sealants & Adhesives.

The 100 or so top scorers in the pre-qualification phase are announced at a reception Monday evening. These technicians move on to phase two of the National Technician Skills Competition - the Hands-On Skills Challenge that will be held on Tuesday, Sept.10. This is a series of 25-minute-long stations that cover key diagnostic skills areas. Each station has its own set of challenges.

This year, there are 14 skills stations:

  • PMI (pre-trip inspection).
  • HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning).
  • Drivetrain.
  • Starting & Charging.
  • Service Information.
  • Brakes.
  • Liftgates.
  • Wheel End.
  • Fifth Wheel.
  • Electrical.
  • Tire & Wheel.
  • Steering & Suspension.
  • Engine Electrical.
  • Engine (Hardware).

At each skills station, judges use a detailed station-specific score sheet developed by each skills station’s technical committee. Judging scores reflect an assessment of technical skills and knowledge, speed and accuracy and quality of workmanship by the competitors.

Judges for the Hands-On Skills Challenge are volunteers who are recognized experts within each skill’s competition area.

The examination questions and skills stations are adjusted each year to keep up with industry developments and the ongoing changes with technology.

A grand champion is named from each TMCSuperTech. Trophies and prizes are also given for second and third place. Technicians who receive the best score at each skills station, including those in the pre-qualification, are acknowledged and presented with prizes as well.

 

LEARN

Held in conjunction with each TMCSuperTech is the PTDC Technician Training Fair. This is a series of educational sessions created to help commercial vehicle technicians, shop supervisors and fleet managers stay current on the latest technologies and techniques related to vehicle service and maintenance. (See article elsewhere this issue.) The sessions for this year’s fair are:

  • Fastener Training 101.
  • Compressed Natural Gas Engines - Spark Ignition Components.
  • Compressed and Liquid Natural Gas Technology and Safety.
  • Fifth Wheel Upper Coupler Technology and Inspection.
  • Computer-Based Total Vehicle Diagnostic Routines.

Those TMCSuperTech competitors who attend any of the training sessions are awarded bonus points. Often, as close as the competition is, these bonus points can make a big difference in how a competitor finishes.

The training qualifies for continuing education credit units accepted by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) (www.natef.org) - an independent, non-profit organization that evaluates technician training programs against standards developed by the automotive industry and recommends qualifying programs for certification (accreditation) by ASE.

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