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Mechanics 3.0 - What operating system are you running?


Gonzo

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Mechanics 3.0
There’s a time and place that everything that is new becomes old. It’s so true in the computer world that changes takes place almost overnight it seems. One day it’s Windows 7 the next it’s Windows 10. In some respects these changes greatly improves how the average consumer’s interacts with each other and conducts their daily lives.

Which for the most part, is what all those changes are supposed to be about. Those same principals affect the automotive world too. New procedures, new testing methods, different scanners capabilities, and tons of new technology seem to pop up overnight. Which also means one more thing to the automotive mechanic… time to update their personal skills.

In most states there’s no regulation to keep someone from poking around under the hood of a car, or for that matter, hanging a shingle on a shop door and call themselves a “mechanic”. Tools and training aren’t requirements either. The unsuspecting consumer is at the mercy of the phone book (and other sources) to find a shop that can actually make the appropriate repairs they need. They never ask the shop whether or not they use the latest equipment or knows how to use what equipment they already have. No, of course not, price is the important part, not training or technology, and price seems to be their only incentive to go to certain shops. They’ll take cheap services over skilled mechanics every time and then when it doesn’t work out, they’ll blame the entire industry for their misfortunes.

But, on the other hand, it takes more than money and a few high end scanners to make a shop function properly. It takes trained individuals that dedicate their time and efforts into performing the tasks at hand. If you’re lacking in one of those areas you’re probably going to have a tough time keeping up with the changes. Scanners you can buy, money you can borrow, but the trained technician, well… that’s another story.

Unlike it was decades ago, and I’m talking a long long time ago, a good mechanic could learn nearly everything they needed to know by listening and observing other mechanics in their local area. In fact most of the tools they needed could be purchased off of the tool trucks or at the local department store. Even though the tool trucks offer nearly every conceivable tool these days, they don’t have access to the manufacturer type scanners and certain specialty tools. Which can be extremely important when it comes to certain programming issues and repairs. But, tools don’t make a mechanic.

These days, the on the job training aspect has become more than a mechanic checking out what’s going on in the next service bay. It’s worldwide now, with different mechanic groups popping up everywhere. Everything from diesel mechanics to scope readers and anything else in between. There are groups with websites, on Facebook, Twitter, and hundreds of other places. Some are private, some are public, but they all have one thing in common, and that’s sharing the knowledge about today’s cars.

Think of it this way, the knowledge needed for today’s cars is far more in-depth than one person could ever completely understand. It took a team of engineers to design and create these modern rolling computers and one mechanic can’t possibly know every aspect of every system in every car. To be today’s mechanic you really have to be more involved with the world around us and absorb as much of that information you can from these groups across the globe.

Obviously, some things haven’t changed that much on cars. Such as tie rod ends, and lug nuts for example. Sure, there are different styles and different sizes but their functions are exactly the same as they were 50 years ago. But, that can’t be said about the engines electronics, transmissions, heating systems, charging systems and a whole lot of other systems that I could mention. Let’s not forget about all the systems the latest technologies have made available to the modern car. Such as lane assist, adaptive cruise control, tire monitor systems, and so much more.

These are the changes the modern mechanic has to keep up with or they’ll soon fall behind. Technology has changed the car mechanic world forever. You might ask, how is a mechanic to know about all of these changes? Simple, get involved and be involved with a these technician’s groups and use their knowledge to advance your own.

Now, for those younger techs out there. That doesn’t mean ignore the grumpy old guy in far back corner that the boss sends all the old cars to. There’s a lot more he has probably forgotten than you’ll ever find while tapping around on your phone. Just the same, when the old guy comes over and asks you to reset the oil reminder light it may not be that he doesn’t know, more likely he’s letting you youngster feel important. He may not be running Windows 10 but he’s definitely not obsolete. He’s fine running the older Mechanics 1.0 as his operating system. Besides, they’re usually pretty smart guys in their own rights and probably don’t want to know or care to learn all that computer mumbo-jumbo.

Think of updating your mechanic skills the same way you would think of updating your old computer. No doubt a lot of shops have a few old scanners sitting on shelves that aren’t used anymore. Mainly, because they’ve been outdated by the newer systems and most likely the cars those scanners were designed for are long gone as well.

However, changing to a new system on your laptop also means that you’ve got to learn how to use it too, that goes for the mechanic as well. Everything eventually gets updated, and if you want to keep current you’ve got to update your skills as well as your computer. There’s always something that’s changing, new software, new tools, and of course new skills to learn. It’s all part of the modern mechanics world with something new to learn each and every day. Keeping up is part of the process, besides, you don’t want to be the last guy in the shop still running on Mechanics 3.0.


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Perhaps the most significant thing in your article (for me at least) is the part about the grumpy old man in the corner of the shop. I have gained a lot of grumpiness over the years, but the experienced learned is priceless. I have pulled my share of rabbits out of the diag hat on many occasions, at the surprise of the young bucks. But it's not the years that count, it's like you state in our article; keep current and don't get left behind.

 

Oh, by the way... I do not even care to learn or try to learn how to reset oil reminder lights!

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Perhaps the most significant thing in your article (for me at least) is the part about the grumpy old man in the corner of the shop. I have gained a lot of grumpiness over the years, but the experienced learned is priceless. I have pulled my share of rabbits out of the diag hat on many occasions, at the surprise of the young bucks. But it's not the years that count, it's like you state in our article; keep current and don't get left behind.

 

Oh, by the way... I do not even care to learn or try to learn how to reset oil reminder lights!

Yea, it's a hoot being the grumpy old guy. That's me for sure. But, like I conveyed in the article, the grumpy old guy just lets those youngsters think they're all that smart. LOL. And yes, I agree, the old guy still can pull out a rabbit out of the hat.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

    • By Joe Marconi in Joe's Blog
         4
      Typically, when productivity suffers, the shop owner or manager directs their attention to the technicians. Are they doing all they can do to maintain high billable hours? Are they as efficient as they can be?  Is there time being wasted throughout the technician’s day? 
      All these reasons factor into production problems, but before we point fingers at the technicians, let’s consider a few other factors.
      Are estimates being written properly? Are labor testing and inspections being billed out correctly? Are you charging enough for testing and inspecting, especially for highly specialized electrical, on-board computer issues, and other complex drivability work?  Is there a clear workflow process everyone follows that details every step from the write-up to vehicle delivery? Do you track comebacks, and is that affecting production?  Is the shop layout not conducive to high production? For example, is it unorganized, where shop tools, technical information, and equipment are not easily accessible to every technician?  Are you charging the correct labor rate and allowing for variables such as rust, vehicle age, and the fact that most labor guides are wrong? Also, is there effective communication between the tech and the service advisor to ensure that extra labor time is accounted for and billed to the customer? These are a few of the top reasons for low productivity problems. There are others, but the main point is to look at the entire operation. Productivity is a team effort.  Blaming the techs or other staff members does not get to the root cause in most cases.
      Maintaining adequate production levels is the responsibility of management to create the processes that will lead to high production while holding everyone accountable. 
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