00:00 00:00

Podcast

Diesel Training for Repair Technicians

Learn how Diesel Laptops is providing training to help increase shops profitability, and efficiency.

Episode 129: There is a diesel technician shortage but there is also a gap in training for repair technicians that are drastically affecting the industry. How can we solve this problem? 

My guest today is Dustin Carnes, the Training Manager at Diesel Laptops. 

Before starting the training program at Diesel Laptops, he worked as a technician at a Navistar dealer.  He worked as a technician for 12 years with specialties in electrical and aftertreatment system diagnostics. He is currently working to develop and expand the Diesel Laptops training program across the country.   

Past Episodes Mentioned:

  • To learn more about Today’s Class, listen to Episode 12.
  • To learn more about American Diesel Training Centers, listen to Episode 93.

To learn more, go to Training.DieselLaptops.com

Watch the Video

Buy Parts:

Want to buy any of the parts mentioned in this episode? Visit HeavyDutyPartsReport.com/BuyParts.

Sponsors:

  1. Want to look up parts but don’t have a part number or the VIN? Download Diesel Parts for free on Desktop or on your Apple or Android device.
  2. Rebuilding a diesel engine and want high-quality engine parts? Visit AFAindustries.com.

Disclaimer: This content and description may contain affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, The Heavy-Duty Parts Report may receive a small commission. 

Complete Transcript of Episode:

Jamie Irvine:

You’re listening to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. And this is the show where you get expert advice about heavy-duty parts that keep trucks and trailers on the road longer while lowering cost-per-mile. There is a diesel technician shortage. We’ve talked about that subject on the show before, but there’s also a gap in training and that’s the subject that I really want to talk about today. How do we solve this problem?

My guest today is Dustin Carnes, the Training Manager at Diesel Laptops. Dustin is a very experienced individual – before he became the Training Manager at Diesel Laptops, he worked as a technician for 12 years, so he actually did the job. He took the training, he worked and became diamond Navistar certified. He got other certification in Cummins, Eaton, Bendix and he’s also ASE-L2 master certified. So he’s got a lot of experience in a lot of training. So I think this is the person we need to talk to to understand, first of all, what are the problems around training and how are we going to solve them. Dustin, welcome to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. So glad to have you here.

Dustin Carnes:

Hey Jamie, nice to be here. Thanks for having me.

Jamie Irvine:

Well you and I were just talking before we started recording about how we both had pretty long days yesterday. So we’re going to give it our absolute best today. Dustin, why is training programs so badly needed in the heavy-duty commercial truck industry?

Dustin Carnes:

I think there’s a few different problems. Like for one, you know, the biggest glooming overhead everybody’s head is the technician shortage, right? So, you know, these colleges and the schools that are out there, they’re not pumping out enough technicians for what the workforce needs, right? That’s just a huge factor. You don’t get enough people in, you know, you’re not going to get the right people in, and it was just going to compound the issues. That compounded with the newer technology that are in the newer vehicles and equipment with the new emission systems that they keep adding more stringent technology onto that. And then, you know, there’s creature comforts. Trucks nowadays, they’re adding more things to make it just like your car, right? It’s going to ride nice, it’s going to have all the features that are just making everything more complicated, the electrical systems that they’re putting on every year, there’s new systems that come out. That compounded with, there’s also a kind of a misrepresentation maybe it’s just what we normally think of as a diesel technician.

You know, even when you watch movies and things like that, you know, you see the mechanic that comes out, you know, he’s covered in grease and like he’s just a grease monkey, right? That’s kinda the adage that a lot of technicians get, but nowadays it’s completely different, right? There’s still kind of that, that side of things, but with all the electrical systems and all the safety systems and all of these more complicated pieces to the puzzle, you’ve got to have a different type of person to be able to diagnose and fix these issues. A lot of people think that, you know, you could just, oh, let me grab my diesel laptops. I hear it all the time. You know, I buy a diesel laptops, hey, I hook it up, it doesn’t tell me exactly what to fix, well, that’s because there’s a lot that goes into that. It’s not just as simple as when you take your car to AutoZone and you look up the code. That’s a piece that you need, but there’s all of this other stuff that goes along with actually fixing a vehicle. And a lot of that is skill-based for the technician. Being able to understand the process, to go through, understand these technologies that are really more complicated and new and all those types of things to be able to make a diagnostic technician, the guy that can work on those complicated electrical systems, it just requires a lot of training and a lot of building skills for those types of issues.

Jamie Irvine:

So what I’m hearing is, first of all, we have an input problem and that’s feeding the technician shortage. Second of all, we have technology that is advancing so fast for our industry, it’s difficult to keep up. So even once you get someone in, they require ongoing training. If we don’t train the technicians we have, give us kind of an overview of what’s at stake industry-wide.

Dustin Carnes:

So, yeah, I mean, there’s kind of different aspects of it. There’s the larger fleets and dealers, you know, they can kind of get their OEM backing, right? They get a lot of information from the OEMs, a lot of support from the OEMs, but even then a lot of the ones that I’ve talked to, they still have the same issues. And the biggest issues are the really the core diagnostic skills. I mean, that’s kind of why, what we’ve built, at Diesel Laptops, Diesel Training, is building up the core electrical diagnostics, because everything is electrical, right? Like all those safety systems and emission systems and all that kind of stuff that I talked about that all kind of boils down to they all end up being electrical systems and we have a lot of electrical problems.

Any repair shop, whether it’s a fleet, it’s worse for the smaller repair shops, because they don’t have the OEM backing, right? They don’t get all the training from the OEMs, if they don’t have those core diagnostic skills, those electrical skills, they understand the aftertreatment systems, they’re going to fall behind. They’re not going to be able to work on the newer vehicles and it’s going to end up putting them out of business eventually, or they’re going to just be stuck doing very labor intensive tasks, the brakes, and sending everything else out to the dealer. And more and more as things are getting more complicated, more of the work is the electrical, the aftertreatment, the diagnostic, that kind of stuff. So more of it and more of it will be sent out to the dealers and they’re not going to be able to work on it really.

Jamie Irvine:

And the dealers are already falling behind on workload. Like how many dealers do you see where the wait times for even to just get a part can exceed a couple hours and the service times can go into the days. So to put more load on the dealers is not a good solution for the trucking industry because the trucking industry, I mean, it’s the backbone of society and we need all the trucks rolling all the time. We can see right now how much of an impact it has on our personal lives with the supply chain issues and how they just can’t get containers off the ships fast enough. So when the trucks don’t roll, it causes big problems for society. So this will compound that problem even further. If the independent service channel is unable to keep up, is that, is that your assessment?

Dustin Carnes:

That’s exactly right. I mean, I hear all the time, I don’t want to send my trucks out to the dealer. They take forever. It’s two weeks backlog. It’s two weeks, they’re a month out, you know, it’s constant. If you could train your technicians in these core skills and they can work on all these different types of problems, you’re gonna save half the time. You have to actually send things out just based on just those core skills.

Jamie Irvine:

We’re going to take a quick break. We’ll be right back. Don’t have a heavy-duty part number and need to look up a part? Diesel Parts is a cross-reference and parts look up tool that makes it easier to identify heavy-duty parts than ever before. Go to parts.diesellaptops.com or download the app on Apple or Android to create your free account. We’re back from our break. And before the break, we were talking about the diesel technician shortage, but really the issue with training the technicians we have. Dustin, tell me about the diesel training program at Diesel Laptops. Give us some background, how did it get started?

Dustin Carnes:

So basically Tyler brought me on mainly to begin with training on our diagnostic software because our core business of Diesel Laptops is kind of still our diagnostic kits, our diagnostic tools. So he kind of brought me on and, you know, he wanted me to create a training program, from a technician to a technician. Right. So I started building that program out and then me and Tyler just sat down and talking about it, what other avenues can we take? What other branches are needed for the customers, right? Our whole business is built around, you know, what does the customer need? Let’s try to fill that gap as best we can. So, you know, me being in the international dealership, I saw what the technicians were lacking. I saw that most of them didn’t have the electrical skills that they needed to be able to do the diagnostics and that kind of stuff.

Dustin Carnes:

So I said why don’t I try, let me just build a one day electrical training class. Hands-on, you know, we know technicians, they don’t like to sit in a classroom for eight hours. So let me build some hands-on boards. I built some schematics, built some real lifelike type scenarios that they could walk through and use their multimeter and all that kind of stuff. So we did that and it was actually kind of a funny story when we, when we did it, I didn’t know what was going to happen. Right. Are people going to actually come to Columbia, South Carolina to do electrical training for Diesel Laptops? I was like, I don’t know. So we ended up doing the first class for free just to feel things out.

And at the time there was actually another Dustin that worked at Diesel Laptops and I finished up the class, we got everything done, we shot the marketing out. I didn’t hear anything, I didn’t hear any signups. I didn’t hear nothing for a couple days, went by. I was like, oh man, like, I guess nobody’s going to come to Columbia, South Carolina and do this training. Well, a couple of days later, the other Dustin from Diesel Laptops, he calls me up. He says, Hey man, I’m getting all these really weird emails that say, people are signing up for this class. And I don’t even know what they are. So like we had overbooked the class by like, I mean, by like double. So, it was just funny. It was that we we’d put the wrong email. It was Dustin at Diesel Laptops instead of D Carnes. And so all the emails that went to him and we booked it up, the class went amazing, the guys loved it.

So we said, that’s kind of our proof of concept. And we started building out more classes. So now we’re up to, let’s see, aftertreatment, electrical one and two, databus, oscilloscope diagnostics101. So I think we got six or seven in-person classes that we do. They’re all one day classes. One thing that we always heard was I want my technicians to be able to get in, get as much training as possible and get back to the shop. Right. And so we kind of said, let’s cram as much information into one day as we can, as long as we can keep them focused, right. Give them as much information as possible and then kind of get back to work. Right. So that’s kind of how we we’ve built our program. At least the in-person part of it. You know, we’ve also do online training. We have self-paced training through our DLQ platform. We have a partnership with a company called Today’s Class and that we actually use their platform with the, with the DLU. So there’s, self-paced courses that they can take for the guys that can’t come into the in-person training classes. And then we also, what a lot of people like are our webinars. They’re either hour and a half, two hour long webinars on a bunch of different topics. So we kind of try to deliver the training in as many avenues as possible just to get to as many people as we can, because I mean, we know shop out there needs it.

Jamie Irvine:

We had Today’s Class on the podcast that was Episode 12, and we’ll put links in the show notes for Episode 12 for Today’s Class, because that platform is really great. If you can’t be there in person. Let’s just talk about the in-person training though. Is it only in South Carolina now or have you expanded beyond?

Dustin Carnes:

No. So we started in headquarters in South Carolina. Then the first deal we made, there’s a company called American Diesel Training centers. So I don’t know if you’ve had them on but they, what they do is they do a well, they have a couple of different programs, but I think they started with like a 10 week entry-level program. So it’s basically takes somebody who knows nothing about trucks, nothing about the industry and take them and get them up to the status where they can actually go in and, and start, you know, doing low-level work on, on vehicles, a C-level technician that can do PMs that can, you know, do oil changes, do brakes, that kind of stuff actually get them into the industry because obviously one part of it, we were talking about the shortage, like we can’t, we gotta get people in. So they do entry-level training. So they have a 10 week program and they’re just trying to get technicians into the shop, right. As a low level technician, just so they can get in there and get their foot in the door. And we can have a technician on the floor working right with our training.

You know, we’re trying to do continuing education where we’re trying to take and build upon the skills of technicians that are already in the workforce. So we kind of partnered up with them and we do in a lot of their locations, we do our training classes through their locations. So we’ve got quite a few locations that we do that with. And then we also started recently in November of 2020 was our first location that we opened for Diesel Laptops, which is in Dallas, Texas. So that is a Diesel Laptops owned facility. And then I just got back yesterday from opening up our new facility in Chicago. And then we’re also looking at Philadelphia and Atlanta right now as well. We’re expanding, I don’t see us stopping that anytime soon. So, you know, we’re going to head west coast, get down into Florida. So hopefully, you know, within five years we should have a location anywhere in the U.S. to be able to get this type of training.

Jamie Irvine:

If you get it to a place where everybody could access it within like a day’s drive so that they don’t even have to stay at a hotel, just come in and do a day’s training and head home, that would be perfect. So you mentioned Tyler and for those who don’t know, that’s Tyler Robertson. He’s been on the show many times and he’s the CEO of Diesel Laptops. When you and Tyler got beyond the proof of concept and you decided to start to scale this up, what would you say the main objective is for the training now?

Dustin Carnes:

There’s kind of two-fold for us. You know, part of it is obviously added value for our core business, right? So, you know, with any kit that somebody buys from us, any diagnostic tool or kit or any of that, they actually get a free voucher. So they can use a voucher to come to any of these training classes. So, you know, part of that is to kind of support what Diesel Laptops does as a core business and the other part of it is, you know, we just, we want to better the industry, right? So anything we can do, any gaps we can fill in the industry, you know, we want to do it the best way we can, right? So we saw, like I said earlier, there’s a lot of these smaller repair shops, which are a lot of our diagnostic kit customers. They don’t have access to this type of training. We’ve had multiple customers come in and say, I can’t get this kind of stuff anywhere. So it’s huge for me to be able to come in and do this with you guys. So overall, we’re just trying to help out any way we can.

Jamie Irvine:

We’re going to take another quick break. We’ll be right back. When repairing a diesel engine, it is essential to only use high quality engine parts. AFA industries manufacturers OEM quality, complete in-frame kits, replacement engine parts, and seals and gaskets for diesel engines at great aftermarket prices. To learn more, go to AFAindustries.com, where you can request them to direct you to a local distributor, check out AFAindustries.com today. We’re back from our break. And before the break, we were talking all about the Diesel Training Program from Diesel Laptops. It’s now in multiple cities, including in South Carolina, in Dallas, Texas, they just opened up Chicago. And then they’re also partnered with American Diesel Training Centers. So there are many, many locations where these training programs are taking place. Dustin, when technicians returned to their shops after taking one of the diesel training programs, what impact does that have on the technician and the shop that they work for?

Dustin Carnes:

Well, it’s hopefully a few different things. Specifically for the technician, and like I said earlier, that we try to teach these really core skills. And a lot of times in our training classes, you know, it’s more of a mindset change a way to look at the diagnostics and think about things differently and build upon the skill level of what they have. There are a lot of OEM trainings, and I’ve seen a lot of trainings out there for specific products or different things that are very specific to, I get training for this exact product. And when I go back to my shop, I know how to work on this exact product. Right. And there was always a joke in our shop. Like if you went to Max Force 11 training, you came back in for the next two years, you didn’t see a Max Force 11 to work on.

Dustin Carnes:

So that’s what we wanted to kind of get away from and being in the dealership, you know, the stuff that I had to help guys with over and over and over, it was always the core skills. It wasn’t the, well, the Max Force is like this, or there’s always the repair information that kind of outlines specifically how this engine works. But it was really those, especially electrical using their multimeters effectively. If you can teach a technician to use their multimeter effectively, I mean, you’re jumping up their pay scale. They can ask for a lot more money. It’s going to make them more efficient. They’re not throwing parts out of, you know, you’re talking about the parts anon when they get to a point where they’re like, I don’t know what to do. They just start throwing parts on it and see what happens. And that costs money for the customer. If it gets passed along to the customer, if they threw something on there that didn’t work, or it cost the company money, right. And efficiency, there was so many times in the shop that a guy would come up to me and say, Hey, I’ve been working through this. I’ve been looking at this for the last two days and I’ve thrown this part on it, put this part on it and put this on it. And I go over there and check something. And well, there’s an electrical problem right here. Use your multimeter, check this, check this. And then, you know, you end up finding a broken wire with a dollar splice to put it back together and they’ve already put $3,000 worth of parts on it. So that whole mindset change and those basic skills, those will elevate a technician way beyond going to a specific Cummins ISX training or specific engine training, those types of things. So that’s kind of the way we’ve built our trainings and our classes is to be able to elevate their level of technician.

Jamie Irvine:

So in the parts distribution business, the manufacturers would come out and they would provide training, which 9 times out of 10 was a sales pitch. And you know, it gave you some information, but it was never going to be as useful as specific training like what you’re talking about. We’ve already touched on it, but I want to emphasize the point, for the independent service channel, if you own a repair shop, if you’re not doing ongoing continuous training with the technicians you do have, never mind trying to find more to join your shop, what is the impact of doing nothing?

Dustin Carnes:

It’s going to cost you time and money. The biggest thing is an unsatisfied customers, come backs, it was a huge deal even at the dealership level. You know, we had a few really good technicians we worked with, but a lot of times, you know, the vehicles coming back and back and back, it just gives your company a bad reputation, right? If you don’t have these core skills and be able to diagnose and fix a vehicle on the first try, that customer’s not coming back. Oh yeah, I mean, I got to come back to these guys four times before they ever fixed my vehicle. You know that’s never going to work out in your favor. I saw it in the dealership, I’m not going to lie. There were technicians that would cover themselves, say, oh, well, you know, I replaced this part and replace this part, but it was really bad. But in the end, you’re just costing the customers more money. The shop, you know, is not going to run as efficiently. All the issues just compound when this is not done correctly. It affects every other aspect of the repair. The customer’s waiting longer. They may have to bring the vehicle back if it wasn’t done correctly. You may wait on parts that are not even the correct parts to replace. There’s just a whole lot of issues that come along with not being able to diagnose correctly and efficiently.

Jamie Irvine:

So hopefully people listening have been convinced. And we’re going to get some people to take some action. So what do listeners need to do as a first step if they want to attend a Diesel Training program?

Dustin Carnes:

So yeah, they can visit our website, training.diesellaptops.com. We’ve got a few trainings, software trainings that they can do for free. And then, you know, a great first step is to check out some of the webinars that we do because they can do it in their house. We even have recorded versions. So you can, you can watch them whenever, you know, you don’t have to come to the actual live ones. The live ones are good, because you can talk to our technician and get feedback directly. But if you can’t make those times, we make them record it so that you can just at your leisure, watch them whenever. So that’s a good first step is to kind of feel out the training through the webinars. And I’m pretty convinced once you do that, you’ll see the value and these one day classes, it doesn’t take a lot of your time, right? So it’s one or two days, depending on what classes you’re going to take, you know, a week max, if you take most of our classes, your technicians are going to come away. We’ve had some really big companies that we work with come in and do those classes and say, my guys really, really need this stuff. Everybody needs it. It’s not just the big companies. It’s not just the little companies. We’ve seen it across the board, no matter what company. I’ve went to and done some training that it’s the same, it’s the same story over and over. It’s available to everybody. You know, hopefully they can get in and come to the in-person class, that’s where you get the most value. The technicians are going to see it up close and really get their hands dirty and do it. But, you know we try to make it available in as many different ways as possible.

Jamie Irvine:

You’ve been listening to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. And we’ve been speaking with Dustin Carnes, the Training Manager at Diesel Laptops to learn more about Diesel Training at Diesel Laptops, go to training.diesellaptops.com. Links will be in the show notes. Dustin, thank you for being on The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. So glad to have you here.

Dustin Carnes:

Thank you, Jamie. I appreciate it.

Share this:
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email
Related:

FOLLOW THE PODCAST

Receive a weekly email with links to the latest episodes.

North America’s largest most trusted independent provider of parts and service.

Find Heavy-Duty Truck Parts Fast. VIN decoder included.

Fuel Injection for
Heavy-Duty Applications

Search