Get Onboard

Any number of minor boat, engine or systems malfunctions can quickly lead to a bad day on the water, a ruined vacation or, worse yet, a disillusioned customer.

But any number of quick fixes can often salvage what first appears to be an unhappy situation.

Unfortunately, with so many different boat, engine and OEM manufacturers, your average technician might miss a relatively simple solution due to a gap in knowledge or training. And that means wasted time as an expert must be called in to diagnose a problem that might easily have been resolved by someone with a little basic training.

Dometic Corp.’s Environmental Systems group, which manufactures air conditioning and refrigeration technology for the marine industry, is attempting to bridge that training gap with its Onboard Program.

Using a combination of printed materials, CDs and DVDs, the program will give the dealer’s service department factory training in basic trouble-shooting for the most frequent problems encountered with air conditioning, such as air flow, seawater plumbing and condensate drains.

“When it comes to troubleshooting an air conditioning refrigerant circuit or some of these other complex electrical components, there is just not enough of that particular kind of business within most dealerships that they have anybody trained,” says Lou Siegel, Dometic’s senior vice president of Marketing and Strategic Business Development. “What the Onboard Program does is take the OEM dealers and train him in the kind of weekend-ending things that are just kind of very disappointing [to the boat owner].”

Siegel says that the 80/20 rule probably applies to many of the air conditioning problems boaters have, meaning 80 percent of the problems that can ruin a weekend outing can be solved very rapidly with 20 percent of the fixes.

Armed with the necessary knowledge, dealers can get boaters back onto the water quickly. If the problem is more severe, it can be referred to one of Dometic’s Cruiseair or Marine Air dealers in the area, who have much more extensive training.

Dometic, which is distributing the information free of charge, says its employees invested more than 400 work-hours to assemble the training materials that are being sent out and to contact OEMs and OEM dealers to make them aware of the service.

“We’ve got the information, we just had to pull it together from several different sources,” Siegel says. “It’s an investment, primarily, in time. Because pulling together that piece of it, mechanically, is not very expensive. It’s the people time to make this thing happen, that’s the investment.”

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