What Tools For Service Trucks Are Must-Haves for Technicians? | MillerWelds

What Tools For Service Trucks Are Must-Haves for Technicians?

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A service technician’s day can be unpredictable. Hear more from three techs about the tools and equipment they rely on most.
Illustration of a technician airing up tires on a service truck with a crane

Technician tools

A day in the life of a service technician can be unpredictable, presenting a variety of challenges throughout the workday. These in-demand workers often don’t know what tools or equipment they need until they get into the field and diagnose the repair.

Hear more from three technicians who fill similar roles but get called to many different jobs. Josh Guzman (Lodi Truck and Equipment), Ashley Harden (Peterson Cat) and Jacob Marlette (Cobalt Truck Equipment) discuss jobsite challenges, most-used tools, and resources that help them get jobs done quickly.

As a technician, what is a typical day like for you, and what type of work might you encounter on a jobsite?

Jacob: Every day is different for the most part. There's always something new and challenging and different locations to go to. That's why I like it. I usually get my schedule about 48 hours ahead of time. The day starts by traveling to the job scheduled that day. It could be service or inspection. After the inspection, I submit any issues or follow-up to our office. Then I put together the quote and get approval for repairs.

Josh: A standard day starts with a pre-check and then I head to the jobsite. I might be doing diagnosing or service work. I preform a wide variety of jobs. A lot of what I do is pre-planned with appointments, but it’s not uncommon to get a 911 job where I have to rush out and fix something. I gear up the truck, get the things I’m going to need and head out. I use any downtime to catch up on things like shop maintenance and servicing my truck.

Ashley: I usually start around 5:30 in the morning, sometimes earlier. I may work 12- to 14-hour days. We have dispatchers that organize everything. I’m usually racing around town getting machines up and running and swapping out parts.

What are the tools and equipment you use most on your service truck?

Josh: I use a lot of hand tools, diagnostic tools, lights, multi-voltage readers, amp readers. Nowadays my laptop is important.

Jacob: Since we do a lot of service inspections, I use basic hand tools like wrenches and ratchets to pull the filters off and put new ones on. I use a power-program multimeter for troubleshooting a lot if you’ve got electrical issues. I use more electric tools than air tools. All of my electric tools are battery operated, so I do use the inverter on the truck to keep the battery charged.

Ashley: I rely on the electrical power and the air. I use the air compressor for large impact wrenches. I clean a lot with the air compressor, clogged radiators and blowing dirt off machines, and I jump a lot of dead batteries. If I’m changing out cutting edges on buckets or pulling out transmissions or radiators, I use the crane. The crane on the truck could pick up about 12,000 pounds, so I use it for small and big jobs.

What are the biggest challenges for you on the jobsite or things that keep you from getting your job done efficiently?

Josh: Just trying to be as efficient as I can and as ready as I can. My biggest enemy is the time I spend encountering obstacles. I’m in the heat, I’m in the rain. I’m chasing down a truck. Getting the most information possible from the customer so I understand which problem is most important helps me gear up to take the right parts and supplies.

Ashley: The hardest part of the job is that everything is just big and massive. And the technology with these newer machines is constantly changing. It can be hard to keep up with training on the new equipment. I try to be as knowledgeable as possible to do my job accordingly.

Jacob: I would say my biggest pet peeve as a field technician is when I’m on a site in the middle of nowhere and there's no cell phone service. I’m trying to get resources like manuals or communication with a third party to walk through troubleshooting steps, but I can’t get what I need. I may think I have everything, but without cell service I have no way to get additional resources or communicate with someone else.

How has your job or the equipment or tools you're using changed in the past five years?

Josh: The way we communicate to vehicles is evolving. I’m using USB cables and flash drives and VPNs. I’m wired with either a mobile hotspot or wireless data to access PDF files online. Resources are more readily available at your fingertips via phone or laptop now. I think that has made some technicians better. I know it's definitely helped me provide better service for our customers. These trucks are their lives and if they're not running, they're not making money. I want to do my due diligence to diagnose and get to the root cause of the problem quickly.

Jacob: Battery-operated tools are more advanced and more powerful, and there are more options. Where before pneumatic was pretty much the only tool, now I can get most everything in a battery-operated tool.

Ashley: The trucks are more comfortable. Since we work so many hours, my company is really focused on comfort of the vehicle and how to organize things better. We’re constantly getting new tools and truck updates.

How important is truck setup to your job, and how do the tools and equipment on your truck help make you more efficient?

Josh: I definitely want to know where all my equipment and tools are and have enough room for my stuff, so how the truck is set up is very important. I don't have the most storage, so I only carry the absolute necessities, and any extra stuff would be loaded in the truck bed. I'm a huge proponent of the EnPak. I think it makes your truck that much better. There's nothing I have to come up to my cab and do, there's no switches I have to come flip. Everything is centralized right next to my toolbox. It definitely saves a lot of wasted steps. You’re really in control, right in front of you.

Ashley: They give us the basic truck with a crane and welder, and then it's up to us to put things where we want. Having the proper equipment is very important because I never know what situation I’m going to get into. Being in the San Francisco Bay area, if I’m on a jobsite and need a certain tool, sometimes it could be two or three hours for me to get back to our shop to get something. It's just a waste of time, so having all the proper tools onboard the truck is extremely important.

Jacob: I believe if you can support the need of having a crane, it should be on your truck. If the equipment is justifiable, it’s cost efficient, and it will save you time and money. I prefer having an all-in-one unit rather than a PTO. An all-in-one is just convenient. It doesn’t take up a lot of space. And you don't have to worry about being stuck on the jobsite if you have an issue with your PTO.

What factors are most important to you as a service technician?

Josh: Safety is the most important, but it starts with the individual. Making sure I’m thinking twice and double-checking things. I'm always thinking one or two steps ahead of what I’m doing.

Ashley: Having a good, decent running vehicle that's properly set up. Safety is also a big factor. We do inspections on the trucks often, so they are maintained properly.

Jacob: I've worked for companies before that used very dated trucks or ran them into the ground. They were not taken care of. Knowing the company is willing to invest in a good truck or good equipment.

Tools for service trucks to drive efficiency, safety and versatility

Do these challenges sound familiar to you or your team? Is it time to upgrade your truck setup to keep up with the competition — and keep technicians productive and happy? Save time and provide the air, power, welding, battery charging/crank assist and hydraulic capabilities truck technicians need for a wide variety of jobs with reliable all-in-one solutions from Miller.