Fluid Power Journal

Keeping the Lights on During the Pandemic

During the pandemic, Altec customers still had to keep the lights on. From utilities to telecommunications to tree care to lights and signs, all industries had to keep working as they responded to fires in California, hurricanes in the Gulf, and other necessary service calls. They continued to depend on Altec for products with hydraulic functions and related services. As a result, Altec associates met COVID challenges to support their customers’ essential work successfully.

Altec and the International Fluid Power Society worked together to create innovative ways to continue strengthening and advancing professional careers in the fluid power workforce during the pandemic.

“IFPS needed to be creative in its approach to how to conduct certification testing, with so many facilities closed to the public,” said Donna Pollander, ACA, IFPS executive director. “I believe with today’s technology, IFPS overcame the many obstacles COVID brought to so many industries, in ways we never imagined.”

To safely train service technicians who work on Altec equipment, the Altec Service Group adjusted its learning environments. With new safety protocols, the Altec Service Group facilitated several IFPS mobile hydraulic mechanic and job performance tests in addition to an IFPS Accredited Instructor and Job Performance workshop.

Tim Petrishen, CFPAI and training supervisor with Altec, said, “A week-long review and testing session is not an easy feat in itself without a global pandemic. Planning for social distancing and preventing virus spread called for military-like plans. Class sizes were reduced, gloves and cleaning supplies were provided for practice and test stations, and thorough cleaning processes were implemented.”

All in-person IFPS mobile hydraulic mechanic review sessions and certification testing sessions implemented CDC and Altec COVID-safety guidelines along with classroom modifications made for Altec’s IFPS accredited instructors so they could continue to teach and proctor certification tests.

Several job performance and written test sessions were held each month for Altec’s customers and internal technicians. Altec administered over 200 certification tests at 20 different locations across the U.S. from March 2020 through March 2021, all accomplished safely and without any resulting COVID cases.

Travel restrictions also called for new approaches for attending the IFPS Accredited Instructor and Job Performance workshop. Six Altec Service Group trainers were the first to participate in a virtual pilot program for the Accredited Instructor workshop held in December 2020. Each trainer gave instructional sessions individually using professional equipment in a multicamera virtual livestreaming setup. The participants were able to conduct their IFPS-required presentation in a relatively traditional classroom setting with peers and a remote IFPS subject-matter expert panel to observe and evaluate. At the end of the presentations, the trainers responded directly to questions from their peers in the room and the virtual panelists.

“Key personnel at Altec did a superb job of using technology to facilitate the logistics necessary to conduct the workshop, and it truly was highly effective and maintained the high quality expected from such a workshop,” said Tom Blansett, CFPAI, IFPS technical director. “This would not have been such a success without Altec’s commitment and support.”

Altec is a leading equipment and service provider for the electric utility, telecommunications, contractor, lights and signs, and tree care markets. The company provides products and services in more than 100 countries throughout the world. The Altec Service Group has service centers, mobile service vehicles, and technicians located throughout the United States and Canada.

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