BEHIND THE SCENES: OEM SERVICE TRAINING WITH ISUZU’S NATIONAL TRAINING MANAGER
Keeping Australia’s fleets in tip-top shape is serious business, and like everything in the trucking industry, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to ensuring a truck is performing at its optimum level.
If you’re a truck owner—whether you’re in a one-truck trade or the country’s biggest distribution company—it’s important to feel confident handing over the keys to the people who will be keeping your truck on the road, and out of the shop. You might have a few questions about how a service technician is trained or how they keep up with the best processes to support your business.
On the other hand, if you’re a technician on the tools—you might be wondering what it takes to become an authorised technician at an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM).
Here to answer a few of our pressing questions is Isuzu Australia Limited’s National Training Manager, David Smith.
Hi David, first off, what are some differences between using an OEM-backed service, compared to the local garage?
First and foremost, using an authorised dealership means that the person working on your truck is an OEM-trained technician—and they have access to the latest diagnostic equipment, up to date information and factory service support to ensure any issues they encounter can be fixed right the first time around.
Their product knowledge will be second to none for your truck model and that translates into the quality of servicing you will receive.
You can also back this up by choosing to use genuine OEM parts, which gives you more comprehensive coverage, and more importantly, will be covered by a factory warranty when fitted by an authorised Isuzu dealer.
Downtime is a massive priority for business owners and fleet managers, can technician training have any effect on reducing this?
Absolutely, we know that downtime is a huge issue for our customers and Isuzu has created programs that improve service efficiency across all our popular ranges, one being our light-duty N Series.
Our training staff will head to dealerships around the country and provide additional practical sessions on the best ways to service an N Series truck.
This involves updating the service technicians on the most effective process so that nothing is missed, and that time isn’t wasted—resulting in the customer getting their truck back in the best shape as quickly as possible.
Can you describe what the day-to-day training is like for an authorised Isuzu technician?
We’re really focused on introducing new techs and apprentices to the ‘Isuzu Way’ of technology, centering on the product and the diagnostics around that.
This involves providing training updates every time something new comes to market and teaching them how to efficiently use the workshop product manuals.
Courses usually come in the form of online training, virtual classrooms and web-based modules for the techs to complete, so they can be accessed and taught quickly.
Before COVID, service and training staff from Isuzu HQ would visit over 12 locations across the country and provide practical training sessions, upskilling technicians and the foreman who would then pass on the training to new techs and apprentices.
Now, things are a little different, but our dealerships do a great job in teaching our techs to bring this knowledge to life in real-world situations.
It’s important in any career that employees have the chance to move up the ranks, is this the case in an OEM workshop or dealership?
Absolutely! A career as a technician can lead to many opportunities. Lots of employees in the service department at Isuzu HQ started their own careers as apprentices in a dealership.
Supporting our young technicians is more critical than ever, given the pace of truck technology and the shortage of skilled workers in the industry, so we need to be providing opportunities for career engagement and enhancement everywhere we can.
At Isuzu, we do this through multiple programs and incentives, including supporting training competitions like the HVIA Apprentice Challenge, the I1-GP, our dealer service excellence awards and Isuzu’s Technicians Guild.
Tell us more about Isuzu’s Technicians Guild?
Our Technicians Guild was developed 30 years ago and has been one of the mainstays in our training strategy—we now have over 700 people enrolled in the guild!
We develop articles for the guild, which are sent out to all members. They can focus on issues such as new regulations or legislations, Australian Design Rules, computer or electrical systems, or get technical-specific on the trucks.
There are six articles a year with an exam at the end. Through the guild, members can promote themselves through the ranks: from Member to Senior and then Master.
How difficult is it for someone to achieve Master rank? What do they need to do to get there?
To take it to the next level, as well as being able to achieve Master level status in the Technicians Guild we’ve also developed the Master Technician program over the last three years to encourage the best and take them even higher. After completing this program, Master Technicians are at the same level of learning as Isuzu’s Zone Service Technical Managers.
One major aspect of the Master Technician program is to enable the techs to develop their own repair procedures that aren’t in the training dictionary.
Then it’s about them being able to pass that knowledge on to the next generation.
Can they end up being the ‘go-to’ person with confidence?
It’s a really hands on course; extreme problem solving that is answered by a combination of incredible product knowledge and extensive practical experience.
It goes for three years, with one major module per year and a five-day program each year at Isuzu HQ.
Want to hear real stories from technicians in the workshop? Check out our chat with Tallia Herbertson, an apprentice with big plans for the future.