“If you’re all about technical stuff, we’re the place to be,” said Executive Director of American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council, Robert Braswell.
TMC is currently taking place at the Georgia World Congress Center, an annual meeting in Atlanta for trucking industry professionals focusing on technology and equipment to gather, tackle current industry issues, and find ways to work together toward improvement.
“This event is one of the few times that key industry decision makers and technology providers come together to review the latest developments in truck technology–including safety, fuel efficiency, and more,” said Braswell. “It is an event that ATA and TMC’s members should take pride in.”
The TMC website explains the meeting and transportation exhibition as “home to trucking’s leading fleet professionals, vehicle manufacturers, and component suppliers.” It says the conference will include the industry’s most innovative sessions that are “planned by fleets, for fleets,” and that it covers all aspects of maintenance and design for trucking vehicles.
“Now in our seventh decade, TMC continues to promote professionals and develop technical standards for the trucking industry,” said Altec Industries’ fleet optimization manager, Kenneth Calhoun. “The annual meeting and exhibition is a critical part of these efforts. Being able to see the technology in practice on the exhibit hall floor and to discuss and learn about the latest advances in truck technology in our myriad of task forces and educational sessions.”
TMC’S theme is “Advancing Careers in Maintenance Management,” which will aim at addressing the largest maintenance issues across the industry. It will bring together almost 5,000 representatives from across the board–manufacturers, suppliers, government officials and more. Among the service providers present will include some of the largest corporations in the industry, such as Wabco Holdings Inc., CIE Manufacturing, Eaton Corp., Dana Inc., and Mack Trucks.
The exhibit began with around 350 exhibitors on its first day, and will continue hosting displays of innovative technology progression, equipment, and maintenance methods.
“In terms of fleet-driven, member-driven, [and] best practices-driven organizations, that’s what we do,” said Braswell.
The electrical study group will discuss its battery tech while the engine study group will dive into diesel fuel issues. There are also sessions focusing on in-cab systems, wheel maintenance, and trailer repairs.
According to Braswell, these study groups are permanent committees that research and analyze current issues, while task forces are more transient and work to solve certain problems more quickly and then disperse.
One major issue the conference is tackling is that of a shortage of technicians. Currently, the demand for diesel technicians is likely to hit 25,655 by 2021, according to TMC and TechForce Foundation’s research.
During the conference, a three-session track dedicated to career development and management will cover time management for supervisors, causes of waste within fleet maintenance, and company communication skills.
According to Calhoun, the career development session will work to support new careers for employees entering the trucking industry while simultaneously allowing current employees to find help in “building their [benches].”
“I would encourage those members that are coming to look around to say, ‘Where are those individuals in my organization that have shown that spark and that initiative?’ And, ‘How do I get them here to take advantage of professional development opportunities?’” said Calhoun.
In addition, the council has a program dubbed “Leaders of Tomorrow” for fleet maintenance professionals gaining traction in the industry who are in their early 40s or younger, or who have at least five years’ experience.
The Be Pro Be Proud initiative will also take precedence–an effort that works to introduce students to careers in the industry through various presentation methods, including virtual- and augmented-reality technology.
This program has its own trailer equipped with interactive demonstrations, such as how to work with a diesel technician and how to maintain utility poles, and will have locomotive and excavator simulations.
“That’s very rewarding when you can share a vision like that and it actually produces something tangible,” said Calhoun. “As I look at the ability to produce something like [the simulations], where we can begin to engage young people while they’re still in middle and high school to think about the opportunities that are out there, [and] that will be around hopefully long after I’m gone–that’s a big deal.”