Training provides valuable education opportunity

News Lucas Deal October 25, 2013

Technology in the aftermarket can move at a blinding pace. Sometimes, faster than the average technician can keep up.

It’s with that in mind that Hendrickson hosted the American Council of Frame and Alignment Specialists (ACOFAS) for a suspension and axle training course earlier this week at its location in Woodridge, Ill.

Gordon Botts, president of ACOFAS and Botts Welding, felt the event was a resounding success. “I think it was fantastic. They provided us so much great information.”

ACOFAS training at Hendrickson

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A group of trainees work on a station during the training clinic on Oct. 23, 2013 at Hendrickson in Woodridge, Ill.

Split into three separate stations, the training course included three-hour presentations from Hendrickson’s staff on Primaax suspension component identification and maintenance, Airtek and Steertek NXT axle and kingpin service tips and a general update on Hendrickson’s aftermarket division and new Elastomer business.

“The Hendrickson Elastomer Business Unit is focused on developing advanced elastomeric materials and manufacturing processes to provide optimized elastomer components for Hendrickson’s highly engineered suspension systems,” says Carmen Cardillo, Elastomer business unit director.

Each station was designed to allow maximum interaction between the attendees and Hendrickson team, and discussion was prevalent throughout. With veteran service professionals on both sides, Botts says the discussion was educational for both sides. He noted an exchange he had with suspension station presenter Rudy Jordan, regional service manager at Hendrickson, as a great example.

“We were able to show him where we’ve [serviced] things differently than he has, and sometimes it allows him to change his approach,” says Botts. “He will either say ‘You could have a problem because of that,’ or he’ll say ‘You know, I never thought of that.’

“So it’s a learning experience for them, too.”

The training also allowed Hendrickson to showcase its recently expanded commercial vehicle testing facility. Over the past five years the company has more than doubled the space and testing technology at its Woodridge facility.

Its most significant investment is its Hendrickson Tandem Test Rig (HTTR), which allows the company to test coupled tandem axle suspension systems under the complex loading modes experienced in the field. The only testing machine of its kind in North America, Hendrickson says the HTTR is the best road simulator available and produces comprehensive road testing results that have significantly increased the company’s product development capabilities and shortened their time to market for new products.

“What sets Hendrickson apart from our competition is our investment in validation capabilities to understand the conditions that heavy trucks operate in and simulate those conditions in the test lab and at the proving grounds,” says Rick Aumann, senior engineering manager – validation at Hendrickson. “HTTR is just one example of how we develop and employ technology to develop the high performance, durable products.”

Botts says being able to see these machines in action and the testing that goes in to building today’s suspension products is a wonderful resource for ACOFAS members. He thanked Hendrickson for its willingness to provide them the opportunity.

“Every time we do one of these things with Hendrickson you’re just blown away with the changes they make and how in tune they are with the industry,” he says. “They are very customer oriented and that is something you have to give them a lot of credit for.”