New truck tech challenges service technicians

Ben Johnson, director of product management for automotive software company Mitchell 1, says service centers need to invest in training technicians on new technology.

technicians working with an electric vehicle battery
Information and training are critical for technicians working on electric vehicles and trucks with other advanced technology.
© Zaiets Roman |

Ben Johnson, director of product management for Mitchell 1, San Diego, participated in a panel discussion titled “The Future of Diagnostics for HD/EV Vehicles” during the recent Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week (HDAW), which took place Jan. 16-19 in Grapevine, Texas.  

George Arrants, vice president of the ASE Education Foundation, Leesburg, Virginia, led the panel discussion that examined how sensor-based, data-driven technologies are affecting diagnostics and repair procedures for commercial vehicles and what shops need to do to not only survive but thrive.

As a thought leader in the repair information service industry, Johnson said that Mitchell 1—an automotive software company—is seeing a transition in the way technicians view service information in the heavy-duty vehicle market, particularly with electric vehicle (EV) trucks in mass production and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) becoming standard on many trucks.

RELATED: Hino Trucks offers EV enablement solutions | Start of a trend

“Previously, service information was viewed as ‘reference material,’” Johnson said. “Any experienced technician could complete a repair based on his past knowledge with quick references to service manuals as needed. This is not the case today. There is very little institutional knowledge about EVs or ADAS within the technician universe.”

However, service technicians still need that information, he said.

Mitchell 1 is seeing significant growth in its TruckSeries repair information software as heavy-duty service providers try to fill this gap, Johnson said. Mitchell 1 continually updates information and enhances software so shops can provide their technicians with the tools they will need, on-demand, to diagnose and repair all vehicles coming into their facility—including those with advanced technologies. 

Johnson acknowledged that simply equipping technicians with the right tools and information is just the first step.  

“What I see as the biggest challenge is the training of the technician,” he said. “Although shops are eager to invest in the service information and scan tools, they seem more hesitant to invest in the training. I believe that mindset has to change so technicians can take full advantage of the information and tools that are available to them.”

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