New truck technologies creates challenges
Leroy Plett, owner at Highway Truck and Trailer, at this shop on Tuesday in Portage la Prairie. (Jordan Maxwell/Portage Daily Graphic/QMI Agency)
As trucks continue to get more environmentally friendly and cut down on costs, repair shops such as Highway Truck and Trailer in Portage la Prairie are trying their best to meet demands.
Leroy Plett, owner of Highway Truck and Trailer and mechanic of over 30 years, said that business has been steady this year despite the economic situation and the rising cost in fuel prices.
"There is currently high demand for truck repair," he added. "Not feeling pinch of the economy lately. The price of fuel concerns me, it does to a certain extent. The less money that companies have, the less they are going to spend on maintenance."
With more and more companies using technological advantages to cut costs, repair shops have found it to be a challenge to meet the demands in terms of knowing the ins and outs of electronic repair in addition to the mechanical side of things.
Plett, who's been around the industry since the early 80s, said that the industry for electronic truck repair has changed drastically amid new-age advances such as the undertray systems.
"It's changed dramatically in the sense that when I entered the industry, electronics were not a part of a truck. They were scarcely a part of your home by standard as far as computers go and such," said Plett.
While it makes life a lot easier for trucking companies looking to cut costs, repair shops such as Highway Truck and Trailer have to undergo a bit of a learning curve.
"I don't think the electronics make life any easier for truckers or repair shops because things have got a lot more complicated and complex since the electronic age started," said Plett. "Before you didn't have that aspect to learn about and you just had the mechanical end of it. Nowadays, you have to train yourself in both - electronic and mechanical."
Plett said that it's easier for young truck repairers to pick it up because they are being trained with an idea of how to fix trucks favoured towards technological improvements.
Meanwhile, older truckers are finding it a chore to learn what it takes to fix/operate these new systems.
"I don't think it's a hindrance (for young people) because of the way these guys are entering the field now, they grow up with it and it's part of their training now, whereas guys who've been in the field have had to take that training on top of what they've trained for in previous years," said Plett.
Still, Plett remains optimistic because his company is seeing good business this year.
"We've made huge improvements and we're always striving to better ourselves in all the aspects that we're working," he said.