Equipment Type

The Shop Door Opens Outward

In search of quality technicians, fleet managers are increasingly turning to outside sources.
September 11, 2013

Rod Sutton is editorial director of Construction Equipment magazine. He is in charge of editorial strategy and writes a monthly column for the magazine, The Sutton Report. He has more than 30 years in construction journalism, and has been with Construction Equipment since 2001.

In search of quality technicians, fleet managers are increasingly turning to outside sources. We recently surveyed a portion of our subscribers, and two-thirds said they are outsourcing more maintenance and repair.

Sources of Technician Labor

  • 67% are outsourcing more maintenance and repair
  • 17% use work-study programs with technical schools
  • 14% offer more employee benefits
  • 12% provide tool allowances
  • 11% use apprenticeships with trade unions

This result confirms what I’ve suspected, but some of the detail was not what I expected. I’ve served on AEMP’s Educational Foundation for several years, and the technician shortage has been a focus. AED’s Foundation also calls attention to this shortage.

When we asked for the primary training issue facing maintenance operations—and we asked them to choose only one—36 percent replied that it is the shortage of qualified labor. Closely on its heels, however, was this training issue: 31 percent cited keeping up with overall developments in equipment technology. If we add the 8 percent identifying electrical/electronic componentry, plus the 6 percent choosing emissions technologies, that number jumps to 45 percent.

Machine technology is the tipping point for outsourcing. Fleet maintenance managers do not know how they are going to handle Tier 4 technology. It’s not only the new aftertreatment componentry, but also the reengineering that has gone into the machine itself: hydraulic systems, for one.

Then consider the various hybrid technologies, some of which include new battery technology and electronics. Sam Allen, CEO of John Deere, recently told Forbes that some of their agricultural tractors have more computing power than the first space shuttle.

Equipment asset managers need to ask if maintaining the technologically advanced machines in their fleet is worth the investment in training, labor and shop space. Or, as the numbers seem to indicate, equipment fleets should turn to distributors and third-party specialists.

Add comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Overlay Init