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September 7, 2017 11:15 AM, EDT
TMC Fall Meeting to Focus on Implementation of New Technologies
SuperTech Vos FedEx Freight Technician Vos (Jaclyn O'Laughlin)

The Technology & Maintenance Council of American Trucking Associations will hold its 2017 Fall Meeting & National Technician Skills Competitions on Sept. 16-21 in Orlando, Fla. — an event that will address fleets’ challenges in implementing new technologies as well as honor the industry’s top heavy-truck technicians.

Held this year at the World Center Marriott, the fall meeting “features a new schedule pattern that is designed to optimize attendees’ potential to participate in our study groups, task forces, educational sessions and technician competitions,” TMC Executive Director Robert Braswell said.

TMC SuperTech 2017 competition kicks off Sept. 16 and concludes Sept. 18 before the start of the meeting Sept. 19, he said.

The competition is designed to determine the industry’s top technicians through qualifying written exams and a gantlet of hands-on skills challenges.

TMC is anticipating about 120 technicians for its traditional track, and around 26 technicians in the separate trailer track, now in its second year, Braswell said. More than 30 participants are expected for the student competition — TMC FutureTech 2017.

TMC expanded the competition in several ways, he said. “First, we have added a new cybersecurity station to the first day of the traditional track, reflecting the concern fleets have now regarding cyberattacks on their assets.”

The competition also added an aftertreatment station and a “mystery station,” which will be revealed on-site, Braswell said.

“Given the pace of technological change, being a heavy-truck technician is truly one of the most challenging and skilled jobs in our economy,” Braswell said, adding they are working on equipment that’s “more sophisticated than the first lunar lander.”

Last year, FedEx Freight technician Eric Vos earned grand champion for the second straight time. Second and third place also went to technicians from the company.

“It’s entirely appropriate that TMC honors the best of the best of our industry,” Braswell said, noting TMC developed SuperTech as a way to recognize and promote career opportunities for heavy-truck technicians.

This year, the awards banquet for the three competitions occurs on “Task Force Tuesday,” Braswell said. The banquet will be held the evening of Sept. 19, instead of during the day as a luncheon event.

The theme of the meeting is “Unlocking Technology’s Promise.” The event offers “a comprehensive collection of educational sessions designed to keep your maintenance personnel on the cutting edge of vehicle technology,” the schedule said.

Braswell said many fleets are struggling with new technologies, and two of the sessions will address this directly.

Technical Session No. 1 will address the challenges of implementing advanced technology and feature case studies from fleets and service providers who were successful, he said.

In addition, the S.11 study group session will address what to do when confronted by upper management with the challenge of putting electric vehicles into service, Braswell said.

“What are the maintenance implications? What are the operational challenges? How to make it work well and avoid common problems that reduce the anticipated benefit of the technology?” Braswell said of common obstacles that fleets face.

The Town Meeting and Fleet Operators’ Forum also takes place Sept. 19. The meeting will feature a special “Shop Talk” focused on analysis of failed parts, an event that TMC holds about every three years, Braswell said.