Flipping the Switch on Electric School Buses: Driver and Technician Training: Module 1 (Text Version)

This is a text version of the video for Flipping the Switch on Electric School Buses: Driver and Technician Training: Module 1.

Welcome to Part 7 of the series, Flipping the Switch on Electric School Buses, where we will discuss electric school bus driver and technician training. The Flipping the Switch series contains a number of parts on electric school bus technical assistance. This is truly where we are at in the series. In the upcoming parts we'll discuss training for both drivers and technicians, and finally cost factors.

Part 7 of the Flipping the Switch series, Driver and Technician Training consists of one module, Module 1, which is the module we're talking about today, provides an overview of electric school bus driver and technician training, including why training is important and the four basic levels of training.

Now let's dive into Module 1 of Driver and Technician Training, Training Overview. It is important to look at the entire organization when you're looking to implement your training programs. A well thought out training program will be an essential component to the successful integration of electric buses into your fleet. This will help you to maximize the range of your electric buses, bring about the confidence in drivers that the buses will have enough range to meet their needs and reduce range anxiety, allow for the technicians to have a high degree of confidence when working on this new technology. Safety is paramount when thinking about a new technology like electric school buses. Everyone in the transportation department will be involved from dispatch to drivers, technicians to facility and maintenance folks. Knowledge is the key here.

The training hierarchy consists of four basic levels of training, with each level building upon each other. School district personnel will find that the more in-depth you go into this hierarchy the more difficult it becomes and there will be fewer participants along the way. Now let's get started with discussing what the different levels entail, and who you will want to include with each of these training levels.

Level 1, let's start with the basic EV school bus and their safety aspects. level 1 training includes basically all the folks within transportation that will be in contact with the bus. These folks include front office staff, bus drivers, dispatch, maintenance technicians, transportation and training staff, and last but not least the local first responders that you communicate with. All these folks will be critical in helping you with the successful implementation of EV school buses into your fleet.

What is typically included in level 1 training? High voltage basics for EV school bus. High voltage does not need to be intimidating. Voltage systems are designed with your safety in mind. Understanding the potential hazards with a high voltage system, systems might be up to 600 volts or more depending on the manufacturer compared to the 12-volt systems we are currently operating. Review with your bus manufacturer or dealer to obtain their safety documents. These should give you a roadmap on how to operate the bus safely.

Now let's talk about level 2 training, electric bus overview. Level 2 training, who should be included? Basically all personnel who will have regular daily contact with the buses, charging stations, or service equipment. They will include vehicle support and management staff, bus drivers, maintenance technicians, and finally training staff.

What is typically included in a level 2 training? At this point we're going to go into how the bus operates and how it will be used on a daily basis. Have a good understanding of basic battery electric components and their associated electrical systems. How does the bus power on and shut down? We might think of operating the ignition switch in a conventional vehicle here. These may seem like simple procedures but will be critical to ensure the bus operates correctly.

From a technician standpoint have a good grasp on the high voltage systems on the bus and the appropriate personal protective equipment when interacting with these systems. From a driver standpoint understand that there are different techniques when operating an electric bus. Ways to optimize the range can be as simple as how you accelerate the bus. Utilizing the regenerate braking will also send power back to the batteries, hence helping to maximize your range. Recognize what the bus is telling you. Study the dash information and related codes to better understand how well the bus is operating.

Next is level 3. Let's talk about charging infrastructure. Who should be included in level 3 training? All the personnel who are directly involved in the service or repair of the buses, charging stations, or service equipment. This would include maintenance technicians, vehicle support staff, training staff, and the bus drivers. What is included in level 3 training? Charging infrastructure includes the charging basics, safety and hazards of using a charger, and the correct procedures for certain pieces of equipment. Maintenance staff will be involved in gaining a greater understanding of preventive maintenance that is required. This will include diagnostics, troubleshooting, and repairs of the equipment itself.

Final step is level 4, advanced technologies. Level 4 gets into the nuts and bolts of the vehicle and working on them directly, diagnosing and repairing for the high voltage systems. This is where in-depth training will be required by your maintenance technicians and training staff. Level 4 should include detailed training for specific vehicle systems. Although the bus might be similar in systems as conventional buses are, they might operate differently like electric heating systems, electric power steering, and electric cooling systems. It is important to fully understand how these operate differently in order to repair them properly.

Training of technicians on the basics of Ohm's law, how to use a volt meter, and what is it really telling you? Understanding how energy storage systems work and how this energy drives a traction motor itself. Electrified power systems are different. It's important to understand these differences to be successful in the repair and maintenance of these associated systems.

Level training for specific systems. The skill set for these specific systems might not be for all of your technicians. Work with them to see who would be best fit to provide the preventive maintenance for these vehicles, proper troubleshooting and diagnostics, component repair, and replacement when needed. Someone who has a good understanding of control systems and computer software. Someone that has real desire and a drive to work on these new systems.

Lastly there are other considerations for all the training levels to be aware of. Refresher training for existing staff. It might be good to provide this basic instruction when annual and service training is conducted. Remind the drivers that they all have the potential to drive one of these buses. The more they understand the better prepared they will be to have a successful experience. Staff turnover is unfortunate, but a real part of the business. Repeat the different training levels for new staff when needed. Train the trainer. Ensure onsite training staff are equipped to handle future training classes. Keep them up to date on their training as electric buses continue to evolve and change.

Some key takeaways to think about. Knowledge is key. A well-trained staff will provide for the best chance to have a successful program. Get everyone involved from maintenance staff to drivers. All will play a critical role in this process. Recognize that there may be a special skill set required to service the different aspects of the vehicle or charging systems. Different levels of training may be required. Listen to the drivers. Ensure that they have the best training possible. They can make or break the implementation of EV buses into your fleet.

Thank you for listening. That concludes Module 1 of Part 7 of Flipping the Switch series, Electric School Bus Driver and Technician Training. That concludes all modules of Part 7 of this series.

Now that you've completed Part 7 of the series Flipping the Switch on Electric School Buses, Driver and Technician Training you'll want to see what's coming next. In the next and final part, we'll discuss cost factors. As a reminder you can find all the content for the series Flipping the Switch on Electric School Buses including each part of the series and associated modules as well as handouts with a summary of information and links to all the resources mentioned today on the Alternative Fuels Data Center Electric School Bus page.