CSA and the technician

With three decades of experience in the heavy-duty maintenance industry, Tommy Davis is no stranger to CSA.

The aftermarket veteran dealt with the program on a daily basis as vice president of service centers at AMBEST, Inc., and now shares his knowledge on the program and its impact on service as a professional trainer at GTD+, LLC (Great Training Delivered), a training and consulting company exclusively for the transportation Industry.

In his new role at GTD, Davis has produced a short paper on how his career has evolved, with tips and insight for service managers and their young technicians entering the heavy-duty industry on the performance regulations they now must face.

Below are his words; his advice to the successors of the aftermarket.

“Having just graduated from trade school, along with youthful exuberance, all I could think about was how many engines I was going to overhaul. Never could understand having to start in the lube bay and work my way up the ladder doing simple tasks that were far below my level of ability. I knew how to do anything and everything, don’t believe it just ask me. After proving I knew less than I thought I did I redoubled my educational efforts through my employer to hone my technical skills.

“Fast forward 10 years to 1988. I got to overhaul engines till I was sick of overhauling engines. I was able to build on my success becoming a service manager and 1988 found me with a main shop location and two satellite locations with around 15 technicians. My manager let me know of this new inspection for the Feds, no big deal as all our current preventive inspections exceeded the standard. What we have to do is ‘qualify’ all our technicians which is no problem, here is a form and they all have more than one year of experience. Signed everybody up with a qualification form that afternoon, filed them away, one more crazy thing off my list.

“The mid 90’s found me leaving fleet maintenance going into the third party service provider arena. 49 CFR Part 393 or Part 396 along with appendix G starting coming into my conversations with some customers but made no sense to me. Having been on the cutting edge of trucking technology it took more than 20 years for me to know there were certain safety regulation that had to be met, i.e. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

“In 2005 I was granted the necessary resources to educate myself on the FMCSR, then train technicians though a network of third party service providers. I have had the privilege to have instructed more than 450 technicians, service writers and owners during that time. This training became invaluable to our customer base as CSA 2010 was rolling out. We found that in most cases we knew more about the regulations then our fleet customers that were required to adhere to them.

“Today I continue to educate technicians, service writers, and drivers and yes, owners about the FMCSR. Conversations can very quickly show people they are not up to speed on regulations. Sadly technicians and maintenance departments continue to believe they know all they need to when it comes to safety regulations. With CSA points, down time, driver and customer dissatisfaction coupled with the expense of fines to go with the repairs you have to question why employers accept the maintenance departments/providers not having more knowledge of the safety regulations for maintenance.

“No fleet or maintenance provider allows new technicians to perform major work without training and experience. Yet all parties allow anyone to inspect vehicles having no training or experience with required safety regulations. How little do most technicians know about the safety regulations?

“Of the 450 students coming through training classes I have done, none have met the inspector qualifications for doing the periodic inspection! How many CSA points and fines have you gotten lately for a failed engine verses the more than 1,000,000 total brake violations written in 2013? If maintenance departments, fleets or service providers, know so much how did more than 100,000 violations get written for simply having the wrong brake part on a vehicle by regulation?

“Providing your technicians training on safety regulations is the only way to ensure compliance. Companies that offer maintenance training on safety regulation are few, very few. Some companies/fleets utilize former or current roadside officers to ‘show’ technicians what they look for at roadside to pass their inspection. No offense to roadside officers, but technicians need to know the regulations not just how to pass a roadside inspection. Training is not cheap but certainly can be defined through lower CSA scores, fewer OOS violations not to mention lowering your fleet cost by having repairs meeting regulations done the first time not the second time. Drivers are the face of any company with resources utilized to educate them on regulations but what have you done for your technicians?

Tommy Davis spent 17 years at Ryder Systems as a technician and branch maintenance manager and a decade at AMBEST. He is a member of the Technology & Maintenance Council and is a Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) Maintenance and Brake Safety Week committee member. 

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