Collision Industry Night – presented by CSN-OpenRoad Richmond Auto Body

Promoted as an information evening focused on OEM Certification programs and their impact on the collision industry and consumer safety, Collision Industry Night certainly delivered. Porsche, BMW/MINI, Toyota/Lexus, VW/Audi and Honda/Acura all gave presentations. Insurance representatives from Economical, Intact, and ICBC were present, as well as college educators and students from BCIT and VCC. CSN should be commended for putting together this event. It provided a great opportunity for industry leaders to ask clarifying questions about the direction in which manufacturers are going, as they showcased their leading edge repair techniques.

As usual, there was a lot of emphasis on the need for calibration, some very specific examples supporting the need for pre- and post-repair examinations, and even some proprietary examples. VW/Audi presented the need for front camera calibration for the VW/Audi product line. The targeting board to complete this calibration is only available at the VW/Audi dealership, and it is fairly cost prohibitive. Approximately $10,000 is required for the combination of equipment necessary to complete this process. As the cameras are mounted behind the windshield, there is a requirement for each windshield replacement to be taken to the dealer to undergo a five-hour recalibration. We are going to venture to say that this is not happening in all cases. What’s most troubling is that if the camera is not calibrated, and it is out by a mere one degree, it can result in the crash avoidance auto braking system being out by 2.3 metres over 130 metres. This means the vehicle would not detect the potential for an offset collision (a bumper collision with a left or right side of an oncoming or stationary vehicle). This front camera is an option across all models!

Toyota/Lexus demonstrated the process to conduct a vehicle “Health Check” and the zero calibration process for the passenger airbag detection system. Toyota/Lexus state that all 2017 vehicle models will come standard with automated braking systems. This will definitely force a requirement to conduct vehicle pre-scans to ensure all systems are functioning appropriately.

BMW spoke about how the technology—and with it, the industry—will change over the next five years. They fully anticipate their customers will understand the need to have their vehicles repaired by OEM-certified facilities only, as the complexity of their vehicles will not allow non-certified shops to work on them without the potential for catastrophic results. They even spoke of examples where rescue personnel—not knowing about their material composition and design—were damaging the “jaws of life” by thinking they could simply cut through pillars in the traditional manner, only to realize (after training from BMW) that a specialized peel and lift process was required to access supports that could then be cut.

Overall, it was a great evening that helped to educate attendees about what industry has been stating repeatedly: the complexity of today’s vehicles necessitates a whole new way of doing business. The need to conduct pre- and post-repair scans and to review OEM-recommended repair processes is not a “nice to have” but a necessity to understand how and what requires attention. It also drives the point that at some time, the industry will be faced with the reality that a collision repair facility will need to “specialize” in the repair of limited vehicle brands. The days of one shop being able to repair all types of vehicles are coming to an end, and those most impacted will be the small operators, as the costs to enter and play in this arena are significant. The main challenge will be how to ensure a return on investment.

Click here to view the photos from the event on the ARA Facebook Page.