Around the world, manufacturers are innovating at a breakneck pace. From 3D printers and smart watches to delivery drones and self-driving vehicles, I often find myself wondering, “Where do these ideas come from?” As we know, necessity is the mother of invention. A global focus on reducing carbon emissions has sparked a vast and swift wave of innovation in the off-highway diesel engine market. To respond to global emissions concerns, engine manufacturers today are aiming to increase performance and power density while simultaneously reducing fuel consumption.
In the wake of these groundbreaking innovations, the industry’s landscape has changed dramatically over the past few years. With any new technology, there comes a learning curve and it has become clear that the service and maintenance methods of yesteryear may not be best suited for today’s streamlined engineering advancements.
Groundbreaking equipment like autonomous dump trucks are a dramatic departure from the hand-cranked winch versions of days past. To keep pace, engine manufacturers are also delivering cutting edge technologies, many with sophisticated training to match. For industries that thrive on uptime, a large-scale shift toward comprehensive training will be key to optimizing the efficiency and performance of today’s capital investments.
From helping customers adjust to aftertreatment mechanisms, or lack thereof, to understanding how to manage their new lower-power-range engines, product training is a strategic imperative for MTU and many other equipment manufacturers. With the rapidly changing equipment landscape, it’s our job as the manufacturer to equip our customers with the know-how necessary to make well-informed decisions in the field. After all, customers are most successful when they are armed with critical information.
Educational primer sessions for customers and distributors help eliminate downtime and profit drain. Manufacturer-sponsored training programs ensure frontline operators are equipped to identify technology warning signals before they become major issues. An example of this type of training program can be found in Canton, MI where service technicians from customer and distributor sites around the world receive extensive training at MTU’s fully equipped Training Center. Taught by MTU’s certified trainers, the center’s course curriculum offers best practices in maintenance and repair for every engine sold and supported by MTU to ensure customers are comfortable with, and fully trained on, new technology.
Outside of destination training centers, a greater emphasis is being placed on on-site training. With routine visits to customer sites with application engineers, manufacturers can train captive groups of operators, and to offer a forum for Q&A sessions with the equipment’s day-to-day operators.
Training materials like online product training videos and “operator cards” as offered by MTU, are given to operators to reference in-between training sessions. Operator cards walk the user through the meaning of each warning indicator light and outlines how they need to react, minimizing both downtime and uncertainty. These assets are invaluable to operators that are unfamiliar with a new technology, or those who need to troubleshoot equipment maintenance instantly.
As industries continue to rebound and optimism is high across all sectors, opportunity lies to increase productivity through innovation. Today’s best manufacturers know that reliability and longevity are critical and one of the best ways to ensure hardworking performance and profitability out in the field for customers is through education.
Andy Suda, Senior Manager, Sales and Application Engineering for Construction, Industrial & Agricultural Engines, MTU America, wrote this article for SAE Off-Highway Engineering.