Bridgestone development trainer Phil Thirsk oversees a TyreForce technician taking his commercial tyre technician licence
Bridgestone has become the first tyre manufacturer to offer the Society of Operations Engineers’ (SOE) Commercial Tyre Technician Licence to employees of fleets across the UK. The company said the licence would raise standards and improve uniformity in the commercial tyre industry. Attaining the licence requires the completion of three practical assessments and an online test. It aims to regulate the industry and provide best practice with an approved standard that everyone can aspire to achieve. The licence is currently being rolled out, and Bridgestone UK development trainers Phil Thirsk and Paul Turner passed rigorous tests in October to become qualified assessors.
The licence will be valid for five years, with tyre technicians having to pass practical assessments covering:
- removing and refitting a wheel to a commercial vehicle in accordance with the vehicle manufacturers recommendations;
- de-mounting and mount a tubeless truck tyre to a wheel;
- repairing a truck tyre to British Standards and regrooving a truck tyre to manufacturers’ specific recommendations.
This is followed by an online test. Upon passing, the technician will receive their licence for five years. Thirsk and Turner assessed their first two technicians at TyreForce in Manchester last week.
Group training manager Helen Allera said: “These guys are fitting tyres to peoples’ trucks, which is a hugely important – and at times a dangerous – job. Surely there should be something that says they are credible and can carry out the work to the highest possible standards?
“This licence creates traceability, accountability and from our point of view, a blue riband standard that we can use when pitching for work and communicating with our customers. It can help us secure new business, such is the level we regard it.”
The licence supplements Bridgestone’s existing training programmes, which won the NTDA’s Industry Staff Training and Development award last year. The manufacturer hopes that, like Bridgestone’s REACT Roadside Tyre Technician Training course, the licence will be adopted by the NTDA and enforced across the industry as a best practice qualification.
Thirsk underlined the benefits of the licence, saying tyre technicians should be treated with the same respect as any other professionals who boast government-approved accreditations and qualifications: “These guys are often working alone in extremely tough conditions, whilst using their initiative to solve tough problems.
“Believe me, there are all manner of problems on the roadside to negotiate. They are a self-deprecating bunch and many of the technicians we assess think that gaining a qualification like this is beyond them.
“They’re wrong. Perceptions of them are wrong. They’re intelligent guys. They work long hours and perform a hugely important role in our society. This is why Paul and I were so eager to qualify to become assessors of the commercial tyre technician licence. It is an award we truly believe in and we think it will regulate the industry and become an award for every technician to aspire towards.
Turner added: “In the past, there was no sense of due-diligence when it came to training. There was no test to speak of, with lots of different companies doing different things to fill a void.
“Technology has moved on. Fitting equipment has changed over the years, but there is still the need for a technician to manually fit a tyre. That will always be there.
“We’re proud to be one of the very first to offer this qualification on behalf of Bridgestone and we think that this could really empower an industry that has long deserved something like this.”