It’s no secret the transportation industry, like most industries, is transforming rapidly from the advancement of technology. When we think of how technology is transforming trucking, we often think of things like AI’s impact on the trucks we use to haul freight.
However, the truck is not the only thing that is changing; the way diesel technicians work on the trucks is also revolutionizing.
The shop looks very different today than it did 28 years ago when now-Maintenance Team Leader Scott Morrison started at Schneider as a diesel technician. We asked him how technology is transforming diesel technician careers, and he came up with six examples.
Six ways technology is transforming diesel technician careers
1. The job is less physically-demanding.
Twenty-five years ago, being a diesel technician consisted of doing dirty and often heavy work. Technicians’ roles focused on rebuilding engines, replacing camshafts and rebuilding components, such as accessory drives, fan hubs and water pumps. Most of the bolt-on parts were larger and heavier than they are today.
Although being a diesel technician is still a very physically intensive job, the technology we use can offset a lot of that dirty and heavy work.
2. The truck itself is much more complex.
Compared to today, electrical systems on units in the past were simple and straight forward. They were not typically robust and were often simple to repair. Almost all electrical systems were 12 volts and could be tested with basic tools.
Today, you need a laptop with specific software to diagnose most of the systems on a unit. Headlights and taillights are even controlled by software.
3. The type of work being done has changed.
While a diesel technician still has brake jobs and preventative maintenance services, most of the other repairs they do have become very technical.
Technicians must understand the different systems and software and use them efficiently. They need an understanding of the programming and diagnostic procedures to make many repairs.
A lot of the electrical systems mechanics work on are on digital. Some run on different voltages, from very low to dangerously high, and you must know how to test them and what to look for.
4. The type of technology being used has progressed.
In the past, laptops and computers were not used in the shop. Now, laptops with several different types of software for diagnostics are used on a day-to-day basis.
5. The training has become much more in-depth.
To stay up-to-speed on technology as it advances, technicians receive on-going training.
As an example, Freightliner has online courses that Schneider uses to train technicians, and we provide instructor-led, on-site training.
Schneider technicians also have access to system trainers and engineers through phone calls, and we can share our diagnostic screens with them to get assistance.
6. Technology has affected the efficiency and effectiveness of technicians.
On one hand, technology allows technicians to make repairs and diagnostics that were once not even possible to make. On the other hand, technology on the equipment itself has, in many ways, slowed down the repair process on the units.
But overall, the advancement of technology has made trucks more fuel efficient, driver-friendly and safe.