Ontario group looks to revive idea of TRU trade designation

Al Smith of Thermo King Eastern Canada was thoroughly impressed by the young job candidate as they talked about work on transportation refrigeration units (TRUs), the evolving technology, and the industry’s ongoing march toward electrification.

Then came the question about whether training hours would contribute to Ontario’s 310T designation for truck and coach technicians. They won’t.

“He’s going to go somewhere else,” said Smith, Thermo King Eastern Canada’s regional manager for Western Ontario. Another promising candidate lost.

Thermo King TRU
(Photo: Thermo King)

The lack of a recognized designation for those who work on TRUs has been recognized as a gap in the world of Ontario trades, especially given the high-voltage systems on the market today.

Supplier-based training continues to be voluntary. A dedicated course at Conestoga College ultimately faded away. Those who hold 310T or 310J truck and trailer technician designations are allowed to conduct the repairs, but the TRU-specific training and testing they receive is limited.

Efforts prior to the last provincial election brought the industry tantalizingly close to the designation. But then responsibilities for the changes shifted from the Ministry of Colleges and Universities to the Ministry of Labour.

“We actually got on a short list last time,” said Curtis Archibald, general manager of Thermo King Eastern Canada. “Everything we did was gone and we had to start from Ground Zero again.”

About a dozen industry representatives with Thermo King Eastern Canada, Reefer Sales and Service, Checker Flag Leasing, Erb Transport and others are looking to breathe new life into the efforts. They’ve established a mission statement to focus their work, and have returned to the cause – promising to provide support in the form of materials, information, equipment and apprentices alike.

The need, after all, continues to advance. Modern-day refrigeration units combine compressors and electric motors, and they’re more reliable than ever. But the electric units will also generate 460 volts, evidenced by fried multimeters and burn marks caused by misdirected repair efforts. Regulatory changes looking to combat emissions mean there will be more of the advanced systems to come as well.

“We support legislated requirement for food care,” Smith said, referring to the importance of TRUs. Cargo such as blood plasma and vaccines rely on temperature controls, too. “Things that are pretty important in stature … [and] we’re embracing all these new technologies to meet another important agenda, which is climate change.”

John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking, trucknews.com, TruckTech, Transport Routier, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.


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  • A good idea to take foreign trained diesel smal car mechanics to train to repair refrigeration units. And a set standard for that