Kevin Rohlwing is hoping off-the-road tire dealers, government officials and tire manufacturers all can sing the same song in harmony when it comes to training and certifying OTR technicians.
With no industry standard for OTR training currently in place and inspectors from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) interpreting federal standards differently throughout the U.S., Mr. Rohlwing and the Tire Industry Association (TIA) believe it's time to develop a training program everyone can agree on.
Hence, TIA is working to create an Earthmover Tire Service (ETS) training program for OTR dealers in conjunction with MSHA. The plan is for ETS to follow the same ``train the trainer'' model currently used in TIA's Commercial Tire Service (CTS) and Automotive Tire Service (ATS) programs, Mr. Rohlwing, TIA's senior vice president of education and technical services, told Tire Business.
``The goal here is that we create a certification program that will be recognized by MSHA as the standard for training in mining operations,'' he said.
Mr. Rohlwing, who announced the program Feb. 28 at TIA's OTR Conference in kISSIMMEE, told Tire Business afterward that TIA hopes to present a course outline by the 2005 OTR Conference. After ETS is rolled out, TIA will then work on developing similar training programs called Farm Tire Service (FTS) and Industrial Tire Service (ITS).
``The goal of the (TIA) training and education committee is to develop a program for every job description in a dealership so that every person in a dealership-from the front counter to the back of the shop-has a training program to help them do their job,'' Mr. Rohlwing said.
The ETS program will consist of two levels of training:
* Basic ETS, which will teach minimum skills to technicians who service OTR tire and wheel assemblies. It will include a self-study program that can be conducted in-house and can include an Internet component if the industry feels it's needed.
* Certified ETS, a more advanced course offering hands-on certification where technicians and instructors must demonstrate the ability to service tires and wheels. The program, designed to satisfy Part 46 and Part 48 of MSHA training requirements, will include a proctored exam developed by industry experts.
TIA will begin discussions with the tire manufacturers and suppliers to develop a preliminary course outline, then meet with MSHA to review the outline, Mr. Rohlwing said. A big need in the OTR industry is to give MSHA inspectors some sort of ``identifier'' that shows a tire technician has met adequate training requirements, he said.
``The issue they run into is that every MSHA inspector in every mine in every state looks at things differently,'' Mr. Rohlwing explained. ``And that's part of the problem-what satisfies an OSHA inspector in a mine in Arizona may not satisfy an MSHA inspector in a mine in Colorado.''
Because MSHA doesn't train technicians, Mr. Rohlwing said TIA, through ETS, wants to create a certification program that will be recognized by MSHA as the standard for training in mining operations.
``We're shooting for something like an I.D. badge we can give to a technician and that technician will have a noticeable I.D. tag that every MSHA inspector will recognize as qualifying for that standard,'' he told Tire Business.
Mr. Rohlwing plans to contact MSHA as soon as he begins working out of TIA's headquarters in Bowie, Md., in May.
``Involving MSHA in the development stages is a very important component,'' he explained. ``We've got to get them involved because we gotta get them to help us. We can't have our dealers under this constant `What are we supposed to do?' type of thing. It's killing them from an operational standpoint.''
The course outline will be reviewed by dealer focus groups after TIA discusses it with the tire manufacturers and MSHA as a way of getting ``everyone singing from the same sheet of music,'' Mr. Rohlwing said. Then, the association will move to establish a development budget and raise the necessary funds.
``What we're looking at is holding a series of focus groups, all over the country really, to bring in OTR dealers to help us build this program from the standpoint of, `Here's where we're going. Where do you guys want us to go?''' he said.
TIA is aiming to present a final course outline by next year's OTR Conference, where it also hopes to announce a rollout date for ETS, he said. So, from now until then, Mr. Rohlwing said he hopes to get all the dealer focus groups and development of the outline out of the way.
One of the things Mr. Rohlwing envisions ETS to offer is standardized training and certification for a service truck operator. For an operator to be ETS-certified, he will have to demonstrate to an instructor that he has the ability to run a service truck. The program also will include step-by-step procedures for demounting, mounting, inflating and field repair.
``You've got a $150,000 piece of equipment in some instances out there and really not much formal training in how to operate that truck,'' Mr. Rohlwing noted. ``It's pretty much, this lever does this and this lever does that. But there really isn't any standardized training package or standardized safety guideline across the industry on how to operate those trucks. So we're going to have a major training module just on how to operate a service truck and how to position it.''
TIA also has a few instructors in mind to teach the ETS courses, as Mr. Rohlwing admitted he doesn't have the experience necessary to teach ETS. He said the association already has contracted with Jeff Faubion, formerly national service trainer for Tire Distribution Systems Inc., to instruct its regional ATS and CTS courses and hopes to have him teach ETS as well. Though nothing has been set, TIA may hire Mr. Faubion as a full-time instructor, according to Mr. Rohlwing.
``Jeff has almost 20 years of experience changing tires,'' Mr. Rohlwing said. ``He does all of our tours. He'll be one of our primary instructors for the ETS program. He's a typical, Harley-riding, elk-hunting tire man. He's got a ton of experience in OTR. There isn't a mining tire out there that he hasn't fixed.''
Mr. Rohlwing noted that TIA also will rely on service truck manufacturers and the tire manufacturers to help with ETS instruction, though he couldn't give details because the program is still in infancy. However, he stressed how far TIA has come in developing training programs so far and the work it will continue to do.
``We've got (training courses) with commercial. We've got it with automotive now. We've got that one program everybody can agree on. Now we've got to go to earthmover next.
``Once we get to earthmover, then we're going to go to farm, then we're going to industrial... We're going to cover all the bases and give those dealers that one program they can rely on that tells them everything they're going to need to know.''