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While new technology is driving trucking forward, the industry still needs the expertise of service professionals to keep tomorrow’s equipment running smoothly.
This year’s annual meeting of American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council featured initiatives aimed at helping fleets implement innovations such as electric power and driver assistance systems, and also how to attract new entrants into its service ranks to make repairs when these systems need work.
Several key partnerships that were in the spotlight, including an industry-centric effort with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and partners including ATA, TMC, the American Transportation Research Institute and others who will work together to help propel industry adoption of advanced driver assistance systems, showed that the industry is much stronger when all parts are moving together.
Within TMC itself, study groups, task force meetings and sessions throughout the event aimed to do everything from develop recommended practices for adopting electric vehicles to provide experts’ views on ways to optimize uptime.
Throughout it all, a common theme was finding and training technicians to fill an ongoing shortage of service talent. In fact, it was the theme of the show itself, “Advancing Careers in Maintenance Management.”
For incoming TMC Chairman Stacy Earnhardt, that starts with telling a great story. “We have to do a better job showcasing this industry,” he told Transport Topics in a profile featured in this issue. “We have to find ways to promote it.” And he believes spotlighting the technological wave that’s sweeping the industry is the way to do it.
The happenings at the Georgia World Congress Center last week were a particularly good place to make that observation, as they showcased exactly the kind of new technology that can attract people to the industry.
The creation of a new task force, focused specifically on recruiting military veterans, spoke to the efforts that the industry is making to recruit those exact kinds of skilled professionals.
The technology exhibited at TMC aims to improve the efficiency of fleets, but the industry’s future won’t be pushed forward by technology alone. What matters just as much is the people creating, fixing and working with that technology.
For the past three years, Atlanta has seen the best and brightest American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council annual meeting has to offer. The three consecutive conferences held in Atlanta have aimed to set the industry up for the future, from exploring developments in autonomous technology and electric vehicles to making sure the workforce is prepared for those new frontiers. We can’t wait to see what heats up in Orlando, Fla., next year.
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