Diesel technician shortage and its impact on today's fleets


Diesel technician shortage and its impact on today's fleets

Source: FleetAnswers Keeping a fleet running efficiently and effectively requires a strong team. Drivers, fleet managers and maintenance techs all must work together to keep the cars and trucks in any fleet on the road and operating at optimal efficiently. Unfortunately, one key component of this chain is facing shortages, and that is the maintenance component.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the trucking industry will need 67,000 new technicians and 75,000 new diesel engine specialists by the year 2022, and there are not enough up-and-coming technicians to fill these roles. This gap is not new, as it has been building for around 10 years, but it is coming to a point where fleets and fleet managers are feeling the pinch. Here is what you need to know about the technician shortage.

  • The Cause of the Shortage

The shortage has two primary causes. First, the Baby Boomer generation is at or nearing retirement, and it includes many seasoned technicians who have been in the industry for decades. This is causing the openings that are seen. Second, stigma surrounding the career has caused fewer young people to pursue the necessary training, so there are not enough coming through the ranks to fill all the openings. As a result, the industry faces a shortage.

  • The Potential Impact of the Shortage

While it is fairly obvious how a shortage will affect the fleet industry, it's less obvious how it will affect fleets directly. Here are some potential problems.

First, fleets that employ their own mechanics will find it harder to recruit qualified people to fill openings. They will need to work harder to keep their existing mechanics happy and in their respective positions.

Second, fleets who cannot find technicians to keep on staff will need to outsource maintenance to nearby shops. If demand is higher than the number of technicians available to meet it, wait times for repairs could increase. This may hurt the fleet's overall effectiveness.

Finally, preventive maintenance will become increasingly important as fleets try to limit the number of actual breakdowns they experience.

  • Potential Solutions to the Technician Shortage

This real problem has few proven solutions, but a few have presented themselves.

First, an increased reliance on GPS fleet management systems that can limit wear and tear on vehicles will help fleets manage their vehicles more effectively. A nuanced understanding of how fleet is being utilized as well as the fleet age is even more critical with the shortage of technicians. This is because older fleet generates more work orders, which will put a further strain on existing technicians. Fleet management companies that provide vehicle analytics that help managers understand fleet age will become more important.

Also, an increased focus on condition-based maintenance, rather than reactive maintenance, and predictive analytics to determine when maintenance and repairs will be needed can help fleets schedule repairs more effectively with the technicians that are available.

Second, changes in the industry are needed to recruit new technicians. To do this, the stigma of the job needs to change. Young people are impressed by technology-heavy jobs, and modern fleet maintenance is quite technologically advanced. This focus needs to permeate the industry. Fleets can also make inroads in recruiting new technicians by making the jobs appealing and partnering with training programs to help potential technicians afford the education they need.

This problem will need to be addressed to keep the modern fleet industry moving. With the right shift in focus, the industry may be able to start filling the shortage and recruiting new diesel technicians, but it is going to take some work. That work is necessary, though, because technicians are a critical part of the modern fleet management process.

How is your fleet preparing for or dealing with the technician shortage? What are your solutions? Let us know.