Bringing Training to the Industry’s Technicians (Part 1)


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - As the trailer industry has grown, most things have grown with it. However, one thing has remained elusive to trailer dealerships across the United States and Canada: finding adequate, knowledgeable service technicians.

Often, the few qualified individuals that exist have moved into the automotive or RV segment and, frankly, it’s become just too expensive to keep them. Couple the risings costs with technological advancement and it’s no wonder why technicians in the workforce have dwindled. However, the trailer industry has, unabashedly, moved forward. In its wake, dealers have been dealt a heavy hand. Service centers, often an incredibly profitable part of the business, have been left understaffed - if staffed at all.

This year, NATDA is aiming to rectify the sheer lack of technical training that starves our industry. This year’s Dealership Performance Training, though not new to the show, will offer an expanded lineup of eight classes designed to get both new and experienced technicians “up to speed.” Additionally, all attendees will receive certificates of completion in each course discipline.

This multi-interview series will delve into the providers of this years’ training, starting with the Texas-based leader in tilt and dump trailer products – Premium Supply. Premium Supply’s Jeff Murphy will be leading a technical training course on the basic understanding, maintenance and troubleshooting of hydraulic systems and interrelated components, battery optimization methods and more.

What kind of technicians could or should look at this course?

JEFF MURPHY (PREMIUM SUPPLY): Any kind – whether you’re a service technician, advisor or if one works in your dealership. We’ll train you how to not only help customers with their hydraulic circuit or battery problems, but also how to recommend certain products to fix those issues. We’re teaching technicians not only how to make more money through servicing, but how to upsell components that are going to help.

You mentioned upselling. Does having a hydraulically trained technician open new inventory opportunities for these dealerships, too?

MURPHY: Absolutely. Even trailers without hydraulics have batteries because of the breakaway system. The industry has products to help those batteries – like solar panels. Solar panels will keep the battery up. If the trailer sits on a lot for months before they go use it, that battery is charged and will engage those breaks if the trailer were to, perhaps, break away from the tow vehicle. There are also hydraulic jacks. If a customer shows interest in a dump trailer without hydraulics, the dealership can install them on that same day.

What’s the biggest issue dealerships face pertaining to hydraulic systems and how will this class fix that?

MURPHY: Batteries are the number one problem. Car batteries, which people are used to seeing, are only asked to pull a few amps to start a vehicle. Once it starts, you’ve got an alternator only a couple feet away and heavy gauged cables to replace those amps within only a few minutes of driving. Now, take that same battery and put it in a dump trailer. One dump cycle, if that trailer is fully loaded, can pull 300 amps. It’s like holding the key in your ignition, trying to start it for a minute straight. It’s a much higher demand. To get those amps replaced to the battery, you must go through all these small wires 20-30 feet away. It’s like trying to put gas in your car through a straw. There’s much higher demand on the battery and a much lower replenishment on the system. The industry, including us, have a lot of products to keep up with that amp draw because, once that battery gets low, the starter solenoid might go out. That’s a common problem.

What does your personal experience look like? What qualifies you specifically to train these technicians?

MURPHY: I’ve been in the business for over thirty years, but I’ll bring other experienced trainers with me. For example, KTI Hydraulics will join me to explain pumps. So, it won’t just be me. There will be several grizzled, industry veterans that have seen and can fix every issue.


Hydraulic Systems Technician

The “Hydraulic Systems Technician” training course will provide technicians and service advisors with a thorough understanding of hydraulic lift mechanisms, battery optimization methods, cylinder operation and more. Participants will learn and/or demonstrate an understanding of the following:

  • Various types and classes of lift mechanisms
  • Basic understanding, maintenance and troubleshooting of DC hydraulic power units
  • Understanding of the complete hydraulic systems and their interrelated components
  • Wiring of 12-volt vehicle electrical systems for hydraulic systems
  • Battery Optimizer System, installation, service and maintenance
  • Hydraulic Cylinder operation, troubleshooting and maintenance

REGISTER TO ATTEND

Additionally, there will be a component of training that is designed for technicians and/or service advisors to help customers determine the correct equipment for their specific needs as well as how to professionally orientate customers on the proper use and maintenance of their hydraulic-driven dump systems.

The course will include “hands-on” training and will give participants the opportunity to demonstrate their competency in the subjects covered, followed by a written examination to qualify for this basic certificate of completion.

Are you or your technician interested in attending this year’s technical training? Reserve your seat today by calling 727-360-0304 or email Andria Gibbon, CEM at andria@natda.org.


Source: March/April 2020 Issue of NATDA Magazine