Editorial: Training Tomorrow’s Technicians

Year after year, the annual meeting of the Technology & Maintenance Council of American Trucking Associations has been a must-attend event for those looking to learn about the latest trends in truck maintenance. As this year’s meeting convenes in Atlanta, that remains true.

But what constitutes the “latest trends” is undergoing some dramatic change.

To be sure, technology has for years become more and more important to keeping trucks on the road; both in their operation, and in diagnosis for repairs. Now, it may soon be a more vital part of preparing the next generation of technicians.

Virtual reality-based training programs spotlighted in this issue give students the ability to interact with VR images of engines, including the ability to see the internal combustion process at work, add fuel and more.

It’s one thing to see an engine cutaway; its quite another to actively and safely conduct trial and error on a representation of the diesel powerplant you’ll someday lay hands on in the real world. We applaud advancements like this, which can employ cutting-edge technology to help address the real-world challenge of filling the industry’s need for good technicians.

The industry also needs good trucks. While demand for new equipment continues to grow, activity in the used-truck market also is strong; prices are increasing, and the quality of available equipment is improving. While those factors have an obvious correlation — a newer, lower-mile truck should command a premium price — one could infer that this improvement in available used equipment suggests that fleets are turning over their old trucks sooner, perhaps buoyed by a strong economy and a tight capacity market that is providing a lift to their bottom lines.

Against this backdrop, it sounds like the trucking industry can look forward to a busy year ahead — and beyond.

We also can look forward to keen insights and long-range vision from panelists and attendees at this year’s TMC meeting. Transport Topics will be there in force, so check us out online and in next week’s print edition for the latest news from the event. And if you’re at the meeting, stop by our booth or corner us in the hallway and say hello.