According to upcoming changes to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Canadian Standards Association (CSA), only a qualified person should inspect and maintain mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
The need for properly trained service technicians who are qualified to work on aerial equipment continues to increase. The industry needs service technicians that not only know how to read the equipment schematics and how to do the repair correctly but also knows how to get the repair done in the least amount of time. This results in less downtime for the machine and a higher return on investment for the rental company.
To help meet demand for aerial service technicians in the rental industry, Terex Aerial Work Platforms (AWP) is working with Walla Walla Community College (WWCC) in Walla Walla, Wash., to train students to perform service, maintenance, repairs, diagnostics and troubleshooting work for boom lifts, scissor lifts and telehandlers.
The partnership between Genie and WWCC got started when the course instructor for the college’s Outdoor Power Equipment course met retired Genie Vice President, Brad Allen, on a plane one day, and they started chatting. The instructor said, "I wish I could train the guys to work on aerial platforms."
Acting on that conversation, Mr. Allen sent the Genie® team out to the college to establish a working relationship with the college instructors. When the Genie team walked into WWCC’s Outdoor Power Equipment classroom, their first impression was that it was set up exactly to mimic a rental store location. It was clear to the Genie team that the Outdoor Power Equipment program is more than just a small engine repair course; it is a program that highlights all aspects of a rental store’s operations.
Establishing the Program
Working with George Klein and James Bradshaw, instructors at WWCC, the Genie team first made sure the college had access to the right equipment. The college’s maintenance department already had a telescopic boom lift and scissor lift in their equipment fleet, but those units were needed for projects around the campus. The course instructors wanted equipment that would be dedicated to their course work.
Genie helped the college obtain an articulating boom lift and another scissor lift. Once the equipment was on-site, Genie trained instructors and students how to safely operate the equipment through its Genie Lift Pro™ Online Operator Training Course, as well as conducted the course’s hands-on learning component onsite. Genie also conducted a Train the Trainer course with several people at the college to ensure that future trainings could be done quickly, easily and on-demand.
Once all of these initial elements were established, Genie then helped to incorporate elements of its Genie Tech Pro™ Online Service Training Course, as well as the course’s hands-on learning component, into WWCC’s 2-year degrees: Outdoor Power Equipment, Electrical Technology, HVAC Technology, Wind Energy Technology, Plant Operations, as well as students studying to receive the WWCC Industrial Maintenance Technology certificate. Classes within these degrees teach students basic aerial lift equipment technologies, including electrical systems, hydraulics, machine inspections and control systems. WWCC instructors have specifically designed their class curriculum to ensure that students who successfully complete the course work for these degrees, or certificate, have the ability to calibrate, adjust and troubleshoot with the aid of tools such as schematics, service manuals, laptop or tabletop computers and connection software.
This type of curriculum is vital for the rental industry since there's a huge need for service technicians. With a high turnover rate for this type of work, rental store owners are always scrambling to hire service technicians who have experience working on aerial equipment.
And, the benefit to the students is that service technicians trained to work on aerial lift equipment are in high demand and can find meaningful employment opportunities in the aerial and rental industries.
By working with the WWCC, Genie has developed a way to start feeding more trained technicians into the industry.
Results Prove Demand
Today, WWCC is proactively training students to service booms, scissors and other types of aerial platforms. The college offers courses two times a year, in the Fall semester and again in the Spring semester. Classes are comprised of 24-30 students per semester. So far, both Genie and WWCC say it's been successful, and the students are very excited, too.
The long-term benefit of training service technicians is that graduates of the program gain the knowledge they need to be able to confidently work on aerial lift equipment fleets early in their careers. And, feedback from rental store owners has been positive. They appreciate the fact that that applicants are coming to them with exposure to, and experience with, aerial equipment. From a prospective manager's or employer’s perspective, this has a real impact on the rental company’s bottom line — because machines that are properly maintained and are in good working order are machines that make money for the business.
In fact, as more rental store owners hear about this initiative, they are calling up the college and letting WWCC know about open positions at their stores, proving there is high demand for these skills. In addition, some of the local rental yards in the area are already talking about developing internship programs for their students to be able to get hands-on training working at their dealerships. This means that trained service technicians will realize an increase of job opportunities in the aerial and rental industries from successfully completing technical training programs, including a 2-year WWCC degree and the Genie Tech Pro program.
More to Come
For 50 years, Genie has provided education, support and solutions for its aerial lift equipment that rental store owners, employers and operators depend on to help protect their fleet investment and livelihood. From operator training to service training, Genie offers fleet customers a wide range of training resources to operate, sell and/or maintain Genie aerial equipment to its full potential.