Technician throw down

TMCSuperTech2014 is the 10th annual National Technician Skills Competition put on by the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC), North America’s premier technical society for truck equipment technology and maintenance professionals. The event is being held Sept. 22 to 25 at the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort & Conference Center in Orlando, FL.

The TMCSuperTech is an industry-wide competition dedicated to honoring trucking industry technician professionalism and to acknowledging the best of the best. A two-day event, the competition is expressly designed so technicians can exhibit their knowledge, skills and aptitude with medium and heavy duty commercial vehicles.

TMC (tmc.trucking.org) is the only industry association that is focused solely on transport equipment and technology, its maintenance and maintenance management. Members include a broad collection of experienced fleets, equipment suppliers and service providers.

TMC is a technical council of the American Trucking Associations (ATA). The largest national trade association for the trucking industry, ATA (www.truckline.com) is a federation of 50 affiliated state trucking associations and industry-related conferences and councils.

The TMCSuperTech was organized by the Professional Technician Development Committee (PTDC). That is a group within TMC established to promote and enhance the professionalism of commercial vehicle technicians.

 

NEW THIS YEAR

The National Technician Skills Competition involves a series of both written and hands-on diagnostic and problem-solving tests and challenges. These are designed to evaluate 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 (VehicleServicePros.com) is proud to be a Platinum Sponsor of the TMCSuperTech.

In addition to the individual competition, beginning this year, TMC is instituting team recognition for the TMCSuperTech. Companies that have individuals competing can designate small teams, explains Robert Braswell, technical director of TMC. The score of each team member will be aggregated and the teams with the highest total scores will be recognized with honors and prizes.

Also new for TMCSuperTech this year is a special competition for technician students who are in a votech school’s diesel program and are at least 18 years of age. Student registration is limited to 24 individuals for this first year.

Once again, the TMCSuperTech will be held in combination with TMC’s annual fall meeting. Celebrating Technical Achievement is the theme for this year’s meeting. (See article elsewhere this issue.)

 

TWO STAGES

TMCSuperTech is composed of two stages: pre-qualification and the finals. The pre-qualifying process, taking place on Monday, Sept. 22, includes both written examinations and hands-on skills workstations.

The qualifying written exams are complex multiple-choice questions based on tests prepared by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) (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.

The pre-qualifying hands-on skills workstations, each of which must be completed in 25 minutes, are:

  • CNG Safety.
  • CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) Compliance.
  • Drive Belts.
  • Electrical.
  • Electrical Diagrams.
  • Fasteners.
  • Precision Measuring.
  • Safety and Environmental.
  • TMC Recommended Practices Manuals.
  • Wheel Ends.

 

HANDS-ON SKILLS CHALLENGE

The 100 or so top scorers in the pre-qualification phase are announced at a reception in the evening. These technicians move on to the next stage of the National Technician Skills Competition – the Hands-On Skills Challenge. Held on Tuesday, Sept. 23, 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:

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

The judges at each skills station use a detailed station-specific score sheet developed by each skills station’s technical committee. The judges’ 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 skills competition area.

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

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 are acknowledged and presented with prizes as well.

 

TRAINING SESSIONS

All TMCSuperTech competitors and TMC fall meeting attendees may attend the PTDC Technical Training Fair. This is a series of hands-on 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 scheduled for this year are:

  • Fastener 101 Basic Training: Identifying Grade Markings of Common Fasteners.
  • Torque Program Development and Management.
  • Tire Safety and Understanding Wear Patterns that Cost Fleets Cash.

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

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