Bridgestone has unveiled a new purpose-built training facility for tyre technicians at the Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA) in Warwickshire, to supplement its existing portfolio of industry-recognised qualifications at customers’ headquarters.
The investment, says the company, has been made following a recognition of the need to increase the volume of training to help clients improve staff retention and to optimise Bridgestone’s links with its customer base. Bridgestone also says it has received requests from partners for specialist training, and the new facility will help the company meet these requests.
According to Bridgestone, the new facility will allow the company to boost its current range of training options and is seen as a significant statement of intent as the company offers a suite of practical courses which will be relevant when technicians are out on the road and tending to tyre related call-outs. The centre will be focused on truck and bus tyre, car tyre and wheel training and will be available to Bridgestone dealers, Bridgestone fleet customers, and Bridgestone-employed technicians, as well as colleges and other local organisations.
Bridgestone’s training and development manager Paul Turner said: “This facility is a game-changer for us, as we will now have an easily accessible, dedicated centre in central England which offers the perfect environment for technicians to learn from.
“The centre boasts a custom-built trailer rig from which a lot of hands-on wheel security courses can be based around, while more specialised topics such as locking rims, wheel flanges and tubeless tyres can all be covered on-site too.
“In the past, we could only provide our courses remotely, by way of a visit to customers’ premises. Although we will continue to offer training courses at tyre dealer locations around the UK, the purpose-built facility will offer the ideal environment and equipment to achieve our main objectives of educating more technicians. At the same time, we will hope to reduce the number of fatalities on our roads involving commercial vehicles, which often occur due to unsafe practices when technicians are at the roadside.”
In 2015 and 2016, Bridgestone won the NTDA’s Staff Training & Development award and in the past 12 months, the company has become the first major tyre manufacturer to offer a new accreditation for professionals to benefit from – the Society of Operations Engineers’ (SOE) Commercial Tyre Technician Licence. This licence aims to regulate the industry and provide a sense of ‘best practice’ with an approved standard that everyone can aspire to achieve.
The licence, featuring three practical assessments and an online test, aims to regulate the industry and provide a sense of ‘best practice’ with an approved standard that everyone can aspire to achieve.
At present, the programme is just beginning to be rolled out, with the first two technicians being assessed at TyreForce in Manchester at the start of March. Bridgestone has become the first premium tyre manufacturer to put its name to the programme, with Turner and his fellow UK development trainer Phil Thirsk passing their own 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.Meanwhile, a number of other courses will be provided at MIRA including the REACT Roadside Tyre Technician Training, which won the Bridgestone European regional Gold award for its contribution to Education and health and safety in the commercial vehicle world in 2016. Additional courses will cover topics such as manual handling and lifting, commercial wheel security and truck tyre inspection and regrooving.
- This is then followed by an online test through a web portal and upon passing, the technician will receive their licence for five years.