It's never too late for automotive technicians to go back to school.
Hennessy Industries Inc. has added to its Web site what it calls ``Hennessy University''-a free training module intended for technicians wanting to learn more about the company's Coats wheel services and equipment. The company said formal training for today's technicians is increasingly important due to the evolution of bigger and heavier tires in the industry.
Kevin Keefe, director of marketing for Hennessy Industries, said Hennessy University was tested for several months before it launched in June. Hennessy provides in-person training to technicians when service equipment is installed, he said, but the firm felt it also needs to provide additional ongoing training.
``Six to nine months down the road, the bulk of technicians can be substantially turned over,'' he said, adding that Hennessy has more than 180 service partners across the U.S., which makes it nearly impossible to touch base with each one regularly. However, by providing information on the Internet, Hennessy can do just that, he said.
Since June, about 1,500 technicians have registered at www.ammcoats.com for a free username and password. Of those, more than 500 have completed 3,000 course modules, he said.
Information on the modules ranges from balancing modes to the Coats XR1800 ride management system. Some generic modules that are not specific to Hennessy equipment also are offered, which can benefit all technicians, Mr. Keefe said.
The program also allows technicians to study each training module, test themselves after each course, track their progress and print a certificate after a course is successfully completed, the company said. In addition, the program has online note-taking capabilities that allow technicians to track information during the course study, which they can use during the test.
``We wanted it to be a very active, low stress learning environment,'' Mr. Keefe said, because that would keep people coming back to the site to learn more.
Some of Hennessy's largest customers have made the modules testing mandatory for their technicians, Mr. Keefe said, although he declined to comment on the specific companies. Technicians who complete a module need an 80-percent grade to pass and receive a certificate of completion, he said.
The next modules will be released at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Mr. Keefe said, and will cover tire changes such as mounting and demounting. In addition, new modules will be released with each new product launched, as well as on an as-needed basis, he said.
``With this service, our customers can learn the proper way to use our products and accessories at their own pace,'' he said in a prepared statement. ``They can become certified technicians of Hennessy products within minutes of logging on.''
The launch of Hennessy University coincided with the launch of the company's new Web site, which offers more product information and the addition of an online application database for tire and wheel service, Mr. Keefe said. Based on the make and model of a car, the site can provide bolt circle patterns and hub diameters along with proper balancing adapters, wheel weight style, brake lathe adapters and a diagram denoting lift points.
Mr. Keefe said Hennessy is excited about the launch of its university program, and he expects the number of users to continue to grow.