The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) launched its first Trouble Shooter Clinic featuring a new “Career Ladder” format this week (Nov. 7-10) at the Century Center in South Bend, Ind. The revamped “hands-on” training classes are structured for both experienced RV technicians and new mechanics requiring a basic overview of RV operating systems.
“We’ve been providing RV technicians with Trouble Shooter clinics since the late 1980’s, and every time we staged one technicians would ask for more ‘hands-on’ and diagnostic training,” said Bruce Hopkins, RVIA vice president, standards and education. “So, we started splitting technicians based upon their years of training — a guy with 20 years of RV repair wasn’t getting the full benefit of the clinic when the instructor was having to spend class time educating a new guy or girl on the basics.”
According to Hopkins, the new Career Ladder format also reflects the changing environment at RV repair centers where technicians are increasingly specializing in just one or two areas.
“In the past, if technicians did well in our testing program, they would be certified — and if they did exceedingly well and had at least five years’ experience, they would become master-certified. But, again, feedback from the technicians indicated that some shops were so specialized they didn’t need overall certification but specialized training in specific repairs. Our Career Ladder training accomplishes this. At the same time, we added a ‘Foundation’ class for new technicians to learn the basics.”
The Trouble Shooter Clinic in South Bend, offered to technicians already holding RVDA/RVIA RV Service Technician certification, included tracks on chassis, power sources and appliances. In addition, a Foundation track open to all technicians covered basic knowledge of RV plumbing systems, propane, pre-delivery inspection (PDI), preventative maintenance, basis electricity, fire and safety and customer care.
Each track also is further segmented for ease of understanding. The Chassis track, for example, is broken down into towing and hitches, axles and frames, and hydraulics, while technicians taking the Power Sources track were schooled on the latest developments and repairs to 30- and 50-amp power systems, batteries, generators, converters, inverters and transfer switches.
Additionally, each segment within the specific track offered instruction by experts within those specific fields. Within the chassis track, personnel from the Cequent Group provided training for the towing and hitches portion, while advisors from Lippert Components led training on hydraulics and a crew from Dexter Axle mentored techs on axles and frames.
Other tracks featured training by personnel from Harris Battery, Magnum Energy, Precision circuits, Generac, Onan, Parallax Power Supply, Norcold, Dometic, Suburban, Atwood Mobile Products and others.
“The new tracks offer more for the experienced technician,” said Sharonne Lee, RVIA director of technical information. “Another benefit is the tracks make it possible for technicians to be away from the shop for a shorter period of time and provide continuing education credits for recertification.”
The next Trouble Shooter Clinic is scheduled for March, also at the Century Center. More information and an application can be found on the RVIA website, www.rvia.org, or by calling Nancy Jo Bell-London at (703) 620-6003, ext. 355.