A tour of “The Educator”

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Last month I spent some time with Wayne Kosko, Navistar’s service education manager, during the 2013 Rush Truck centers (RTC) Technician Skills Rodeo taking a tour of a tractor-trailer the OEM’s training experts unofficially call “The Educator.”

It’s actually one of three tractor-trailers Navistar uses primarily to provide technician training for fleet customers concerning the company’s MaxxForce engines and other components; primarily as a way to help fleets and their technicians determine when to keep a repair in-house and when to outsource it to a dealership.

[To view more photos of “The Educator,” please click here.]

“For example, we’ll walk a fleet’s technicians through a fuel system issue, diagnosing a variety of problems related to the fuel pump, filters, etc.,” Kosko told me. “If it’s a fuel pump issue, the fleet’s got a decision to make. They can replace it themselves, but that requires special tooling and procedures. Is it worth it for them to invest in that or in this case take that repair to their local dealer?”

The other side of the coin, though, is when the issue turns out to require only minimal work – such as a filter replacement and check – and thus makes a particular repair most cost-effective to rectify within the fleet’s shop.

“The thing is you really can’t open up the hood and tell right away if a particular fuel system fault is due to a fuel pump failure or a clogged filter; that’s where the diagnostic training we give them in ‘The Educator’ comes in,” Kosko told me. “When we’re at a customer location, we also provide onsite training using their vehicles so technicians get both the ‘outside’ and ‘inside’ view of problems they can and can’t see when making repairs.”

He noted that at any given time two of Navistar’s training trailers – officially dubbed “mobile training solutions” – are on the road visiting customer locations, and are usually on the road for up to 30 weeks. The trailers themselves optimally hold six technicians per classroom session with the trailer interior able to be configured any number of ways based on the components being dissected.

In my case, this particular “Educator” featured three engines, with the one in the middle capable of being cranked up and operated at full power.

Kosko stressed, though, that these training trailers augment Navistar’s network of more traditional brick-and-mortar training facilities spread out across the U.S., which includes: the OEM’s Las Vegas Training Center in (where else?) Las Vegas, NV; its Woodridge Product Support/Training Center in Woodbridge, IL; and its West Chester Training Center in West Chester, PA, just outside Philadelphia.

“We use our training centers to support fleet and dealer technician needs alike, but the trailers are really mostly focused on supporting fleet needs,” Kosko told me. “Bringing the training to their shops makes the training more effective and efficient for the customer.”

I'm going to bet fleets agree with that sentiment fairly wholeheartedly too.

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