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Jump the knowledge gap to success

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Independent workshops are only ever as good as their people – and the top people seek out the best training in the business. That’s the message from ZF Services UK’s Technical Training Manager, Wayne McCluskey, who reports that not only is the ZF Services [Pro]Tech garage concept on track to reach its 2018 membership quota, but demand for its IMI accredited training courses at ZF’s UK headquarters is also at peak levels.

Despite this encouraging trend, McCluskey believes that many more technicians could benefit. “We still receive calls about problems with clutch or dual-mass flywheel (DMF) installation that elementary training could prevent. Basic errors, including misalignment of the transmission during reassembly, incorrect lubrication and damage caused by using air tools in place of hand tools recur on a daily basis. As for some of the warranty claims we see, if a third DMF has been fitted to the same car in quick succession only for it to fail again, it should be obvious that other vehicle systems need checking to find the underlying cause.”

Both [pro]Tech and ZF Services system-specific training courses set out to address the knowledge gap. Incorporating the unique insights, factory-level information and technical expertise that original equipment manufacturers such as ZF can provide, participants gain first-hand practical experience alongside theoretical basics to develop their diagnostic skills.

“We encourage technicians to investigate problems methodically, so that when a vehicle with a fault arrives at the workshop, they look beyond the symptom to isolate the root cause,” says McCluskey.

Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 12.32.43“Taking the earlier DMF scenario, during our clutch and DMF training course, one of the first things we ask attendees to do is assess how well the vehicle starts. Slow starting is a major cause of DMF damage, whether it’s due to a high-resistance earthing point or perhaps a problem with an exhaust gas recirculation valve or an air mass meter. So, we simulate problems by using a rheostat in the starting circuit to cause slow starter motor rotation and use Pico diagnostic equipment to analyse the fault. We review other possibilities too, like a seized air-conditioning compressor clutch causing excessive vibration and leading to extremes of DMF oscillation.

“Carrying out a comprehensive regime of diagnostic tests on the vehicle systems before deciding on a course of action may seem unnecessarily time consuming. However, it avoids the delay and cost of replacing incorrectly diagnosed parts, and prevents repeated failures of the same part within a short timeframe.”

Summarising the advantages of ZF Services’ approach, McCluskey adds: “Regular training fosters an innate understanding of products and application systems. Workshops gain competitive advantage through improvement in the quality of maintenance and repairs, which has a positive influence on employee morale, business reputation and customer perception.”

With vehicles constantly evolving in technical complexity, and unrelenting momentum towards hybridisation and full electrification, the future focus for training will undoubtedly shift to reflect market needs. Until then, instruction in traditional vehicle systems should remain an essential part of any technician’s ongoing professional development.

To get on board, contact ZF Services UK on 03332 401 123.

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