By Dean Landers, Landers Appliance
The evolution of appliance repair has been dramatic in my lifetime. When I broke into the industry in the mid 70’s there were four primary brands of washing machines on the market. Whirlpool had their famed belt drive model, Maytag had their Dependable Care 2 belt design, GE had the web driven pump, and Frigidaire had their roller-matic (And yes for those of us that serviced commercial machines there was Speed Queen with their space ship looking fluid drives). Each brand had one basic transmission/drive design. Everything was electro-mechanical. None of the appliances across the spectrum contained an electronic control board, at least not that I can remember. In fact, thinking back on the first time I opened up a Thermador CMT21 and the terror I experienced at seeing all those wires and devices was enough of a strain on my mind. My, how times have changed! Those products don’t even come close to the knowledge and equipment required to service today’s equipment.
Not only has each manufacturer added multiple designs and product types to their stable of appliance offerings, the number of companies selling appliances in America have increased dramatically. However, the biggest change has been in the internal designs. Due to pressures from the government to produce energy efficient appliances, the need to manage expenses due to increases in raw material costs, and the desire and/or demand by consumers for more options in operations, manufacturers began adding electronics to the electrical circuitry of their appliance offerings.
Ranges started with ERC’s (Electronic Range Control/Clock). Refrigerators added defrost control boards, dishwashers included dirty water sensors, and washing machines had their water temperature controls, and on and on it went, bringing us to today. Now you will be hard-pressed to find any appliance without at least one electronic board in its circuitry. When you open up a control panel on any major household appliance, you are going to find an electronic control and membrane switch, sensors, AC/DC converters, power control boards, and a myriad of other possible electronic components.
So where has that led those of us who are in the appliance service business? Admittedly, I am no longer a service technician. I stopped servicing appliances and began managing my appliance repair business over 25 years ago. In my capacity as a business trainer and facilitator for USA’s RSTI (Regional Service Training Institute) program, I have had the privilege of sitting in on multiple technical training sessions. Before we begin the business training, we have various manufacturers present technical training on a wide variety of products. Having sat in on a number of these technical training sessions I have sat slack jawed at the complication in design and hence diagnosis and repair of modern day appliances. Thinking about having to measure DC voltage in single digit to low double digits, worrying about adequate grounding, having powerful enough metering devices for a wide variety of Ohm readings, small enough lead prongs to get to the test points on the control boards, looking over the mounds of diagnostic info containing flow charts, fault codes, testing procedures, resets, etc., having the brain power to remember all these various issues, along with the patience of working through them made me come to the conclusion we are not in the appliance repair business any longer, at least not what it was 40 years ago. Make no mistake; our appliance service personnel are now legitimate, bonafide computer technicians who also have to possess excellent mechanical skills. My, how times have changed!
Appliance Service Training Institute, ASTI
The 2016 ASTI is the best place to learn how to diagnose these challenging computer components. At ASTI, 15 manufacturer trainers will deliver hands-on technical training.
“Learn ways to be more efficient with our time, more analytical with our processes, and more profitable in our bottom lines”.
Know More, Make More may seem to be easier said than done, but at this years’ ASTI service training we have gathered some of the best minds in business, marketing, service, sales and much more—to share insights and ideas into how you can make the most of your efforts day-to-day in your business.
The 2016 ASTI will be held at the Deauville Beach Resort in Miami, FL February 15 – 18, 2016. Details and registration available at www.asti.us