April 12th, 2011

DRIVING THE BIG TRUCKS

Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

A two-week training teaches newly-hired Transportation Technicians the basics of materials inspection and equipment operation.

 

New Trans-Tech Preston Pritchard says hello before being tested on driving a UDOT truck.

Trans-Techs are the Jack and Jills of all transportation trades at UDOT — they operate front loaders and road sweepers, repair safety features like guardrail and road delineation markers and gather and test construction materials just to name a few important jobs they perform. Many Trans-Techs move back and forth between maintenance and construction duties by operating a snow plow in the winter and working in a construction team spring through fall. The Trans-Tech program allows UDOT to use man-power effectively and efficiently throughout the year.

Skill building is critical

Curtis Sanchez is the Equipment Safety Trainer at UDOT.

UDOT holds a twice-yearly academy to give new Trans-Techs an overview of the skills they need to work in a demanding environment. But, “it’s not a pass-fail kind of thing “says Ira Bickford, Operations Manager at UDOT. The academy is a way to make sure new workers are capable to perform the core duties needed to take care of the transportation system — one of UDOT’s Final Four Strategic Goals.

Bickford helps organized the academy along with Curtis Sanchez, Equipment Safety Trainer at UDOT. Bickford and Sanchez are supported by maintenance workers who are also trainers at the academy. All have a wealth of experience in a wide range of UDOT functions. Some trainers have up to 25 years of experience — they are “very dedicated and very good at what they do,” says Bickford.

Trainer Dwayne Schoenfelder tests Troy Brunker. A pre-ride check ensures that vehicles are ready for a safe, efficient ride.

Trans-techs spend 65 hours a week doing classroom and field study on all topics so they can learn skills and  “start speaking the UDOT language,” says Mike Adams, a Construction Trainer from UDOT Region Two. New workers need to know about road way features, surveying, plan sets or specifications, roadway signs, names for all parts of roads and associated structures like bridges or culverts — “a Trans-tech really has to know a lot,” says Bickford.

The hands on work comes in the second week when Trans-Techs have two days of practice operating heavy equipment and learning how to sample construction materials. Students move through a series of learning modules manned by experienced trainers who test their skills. Each student has a check-off sheet that will go with them to the job site. If more training or experience is needed, a supervisor or trainer will follow up with that new employee to develop skills and knowledge.

A Trans-Tech backs front-loader onto a trailer.

The 2011 Trans-Tech Academy was the “biggest group ever with 44 students participating,” says Ira. That number is nearly twice the typical number of 25 to 30.  Many have construction and maintenance experience already or have worked in a related industry. Bickford says they are a “great crew. We feel pretty lucky to to be bringing these new employees on board.”

Trainer Mike Adams shows how to sample soil and rocks used as fill in embankments or retaining walls. Trans-Techs take samples of all materials used in construction. Samples are tested in a UDOT lab to ensure the right materials are used on UDOT projects. Fill that is too acidic or alkaline can cause steel reenforcement to corrode more quickly and reduce the useful life of a structure.

Station Supervisor and trainer Jake Brown, left, tests Lucas Rivera on front-loader components.

Related posts:

BURIED SECRETS — Fill used in MSE walls needs to be tested.

UDOT LEADER — An Area Supervisor supports the Trans-Tech program.

PATRIOT SUPERVISOR — a Station Supervisor gets an award.

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Responses to “DRIVING THE BIG TRUCKS”

  1. Thanks for the info about this training. It’s a great career for anyone to get into.

  2. I will pass along the information on your great training program. It’s exciting to see how it has grown and also how detailed and thorough you are with the safety elements.

  3. Well that looks much more fun than the Driving Lessons I give in Liverpool!!

  4. I will look you up next time I’m there!

    Catherine Higgins at July 7, 2011 7:13 pm
  5. As a former UPS driver, I always envied the guys I saw driving and transporting these big boys. A lot of people have no idea the training involved with the safe operation of this equipment.

  6. Any post about trucks is good to me!

  7. I found this article whilst looking for other information on driving lessons however that looks really cool, just wish there was a truck that big round here I could learn in!

  8. The trucking industry provides an essential service to the American economy by transporting large quantities of raw materials, works in process, and finished goods over land typically from manufacturing plants to retail distribution centers. Trucks are also important to the construction industry, as dump trucks, water trucks, cranes, and portable concrete mixers are necessary to move the large amounts of rocks, dirt, concrete, and other building materials used in construction. Trucks in America are responsible for the majority of freight movement over land, and are vital tools in the manufacturing, transportation, and warehousing industries. Here at Tommy’s Truck Sales we have supplied Lubbock and the surrounding areas with the equipment, and parts they need in a fast paced society that never sleeps!

  9. And for those of you who get impatient around trucks, you should read this article: http://www.drive-safely.net/truck-safety-training.html

    People are not adequately trained in drivers ed on how drive around large vehicles. Let’s give these guys some space, their jobs are hard enough as it is!

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