Using your laptop
Being a mechanic is more high-tech than many young people might think. The job is not all oil and grease. Many may not know that a laptop is as important as a screwdriver or wrench.
“One of the top tools every mechanic needs today is a laptop computer,” says Johnson. “You can show these kids that, yes, we are working on big, heavy trucks, but you also need computer skills. That's going to appeal to them a little more.”
When troubleshooting a vehicle, the first thing a mechanic does is plug his laptop into the data bus to determine the vehicle's parameters. “Within a given range, if I want a vehicle to be more fuel-efficient, I can plug my laptop into it and turn the horsepower back,” Johnson says. “If I want it to run a little faster with a little more torque, I can plug in my laptop and change the torque curve a little bit.”
Young people should also know that telematics, or troubleshooting a vehicle and showing how it performs, is becoming more mainstream in the trucking industry. Caterpillar has started doing this with its construction equipment.
In the railroad industry, when a locomotive comes into the shop for a quarterly inspection, the mechanic knows more about the engine before it gets there than if he worked on it for three days 15 years ago. “It comes in the door and he has a complete printout of what's right, what's wrong, and what needs to be repaired,” Johnson says.
Organized by the National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA), the annual event features more than 550 vocational truck and equipment exhibitors in more than 500,000 square feet of exhibit space. Trade show hours are 10:30 a.m to 5 p.m. on March 6-7, and 9 a.m. to noon on March 8.
Students thinking about vocational careers should know about the technology involved with being a mechanic. “Kids today are technology-blinded,” Johnson says. “If they don't view what they're doing or working on as having some technological aspect to it, they probably won't want to do it.”
The Work Truck Show 2012
Concrete producers who are interested in the latest truck offerings might want to visit The Work Truck Show, which takes place March 6-8 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis.
Returning is the Green Truck Summit on March 5 and 6. Considered the foremost educational program covering clean fuels initiatives, the summit offers intensive presentations and breakout sessions led by top industry experts and early adopter fleet managers.
Other special events will include a Fleet Management Symposium, State of the Industry Overview, and the Future of Fleet Operations. Many manufacturers will present Chassis Updates throughout the show. Former president George W. Bush will be the keynote speaker at the President's Breakfast & 48th Annual NTEA Meeting, 7:30-9:15 a.m., March 7.
For more information on special events, exhibits, and registration, visit www.ntea.com.