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A window into the future; tech insights from the world

A window on the world can reveal future trends and lessons for the Australian collision industry. Don’t miss the chance to hear Repairify Director of Innovation, Martin Brown, next month.

Martin Brown has decades of automotive industry experience behind him and having kept a close eye on the development of technology, and can draw some valuable insights into where we might be in the years to come.

For an industry veteran who can recall when the most sophisticated thing in a car was the electric windows, Martin Brown is still amazed but undaunted by the ever-increasing sophistication of modern vehicles.

For the individual workshop, keeping across these developments in a diverse range of car models and makes, to deliver high quality and efficient repairs can seem almost impossible, he says. But that is where Repairify has built an international reputation, helping workshops overcome diagnostic issues through its remote services and specifically unlocking the sophisticated coding and gateways of the modern vehicle.

In the UK and Europe, Martin Brown has observed a strong and steady upsurge in demand that is principally based around the ADAS systems incorporated in vehicles.  As an indicator of how quickly this is moving, he highlights the fact in the UK all new cars since 2016 have been equipped with some form of ADAS technology and this has meant as many as 90 per cent of vehicles coming into collision workshops are ADAS equipped.

Martin, who will appear at Symposium 24 on June 19 in Sydney, says this has translated into change in the industry with about 75 to 80 per cent of the workshops being either ADAS equipped or having subsidiary businesses who can do the calibrations in partnership with the repair workshop.

Martin Brown. Image: Repairify

“I think where Australia needs to jump forward in a big leap is in the area of autonomy and ADAS,” he says.

“Historically you’ve only got a few collision groups investing in their own equipment to be able to calibrate cars locally on site.”

Underpinning this surge are the key safety advantages ADAS brings. For the customer, there is also the expectation that the safety features ADAS offers will work to the expected level after a repair.

“People sometimes don’t realise how important it is,” Martin says

“The thing we have to try and get people’s head around with ADAS and the cameras on cars, is it is not just to stop you crashing. If it’s not calibrated correctly, your car could stop when you don’t want it to and then somebody else could end up hitting you.

“For example, if your radar is pointing towards the pavement because the brackets got bent in a collision and the repairers haven’t noticed. That radar sees a pedestrian and your car is just going to stop, without you touching the brakes. The motorcyclist that could be behind is then going to hit you and it’s your fault.”

He says in the UK and US the responsibility and ultimately the liability of the safety of the car can come down to how meticulously it is repaired. Insurers are also acutely aware of this liability, so the partnerships with trusted workshops can become more critical. For the workshops that are ready, it is in turn a business opportunity

“They are looking for the workshops who are qualified, equipped and can complete the work to their standards,” Martin says.

“Aggressive insurers are going to be telling the repair shops, if you had this equipment, we’re going to drive volume through to you of these types of vehicles. And if you don’t have it, we won’t.”

While the UK now has mandated training qualifications for anybody working with ADAS, insurers are also looking for workshops that can complete the repairs in-house and can guarantee the quality of the work. This avoids involving sub-contractors where the quality control is more difficult and increasingly part of insurers due diligence.

The investment in the expertise and equipment to be ADAS ready holds a valuable lesson for Australia where it is rapidly emerging, as an opportunity for workshops to embrace it.

“Now’s the time to get in on this because if you’re going to invest now, then you are in a good place to take on the work, perhaps also for other collision centres around you and make sure that you recoup the device investment relatively quickly.”

While Australian automotive businesses are frequently seeing the need for calibration for windscreen mounted ADAS cameras, other technological complexities in European cars are becoming more popular and are affecting repair workshops.

Image; Repairify

“One of the most common issues are headlights on the European cars,” he says. “Headlamps, airbag modules, steering racks and ADAS radars and calibrations they’re the five key points where Repairify can help any shop.

“Because you can’t just change a headlight in modern cars without programming the headlights. Many people don’t understand if you don’t do the camera calibration correctly, your headlights can be pointing in the wrong direction because laser and smart multibeam LEDs use the screen camera to shadow out oncoming vehicles or pedestrians.”

Looking into the future, Martin believes the shift to higher levels of ADAS including autonomous cars will be a gradual process, as the technology needs to be developed to overcome the public perception of the high risk associated with driverless cars.

“We’ve not seen new technology in ADAS apart from the single twin radar stereo camera which has been around for the last six years.

“The large roof mounted LIDAR boxes used on driverless cars are essentially only at a pilot stage and haven’t hit mainstream vehicles with the exception of Nio.”

But Martin says the company is committed to keeping across these and any other developments to ensure repair shops can meet the need.

“The manufacturers will develop the software and once we start to see them in the cars in the collision centres then of course Repairify will be ready to have the latest technology we need to be able to get those vehicles repaired to the manufacturer’s standards.”

This delay in next level ADAS and autonomous cars provides some breathing space for Australian workshops but also an opportunity.

“It is a chance for them to actually catch up in Australia and get themselves into a more comfortable position with ADAS and where it is at the moment.”

Part of what Repairify has been able to offer to repair businesses around the world is the expertise to diagnose modern vehicles, aid technicians with repairs and get them back on the road quicker, enhancing the efficiency and profitability of a repair business.

“Reducing the key-to-key times is absolutely critical for bodyshops and insurers,” he says.

“For a smaller shop to be able to perform the task that the main dealer once had to do. Rather than waiting for the dealer to perform a calibration for a headlamp or whatever they’re doing is critical.

“In Australia, the last time I was there, there was about two to three weeks lead time on some of these jobs, where we can do that the same day.”

The increasing complexity of the cars and the importance of these relationships with crash customers means in the UK there is a gradual steady shift toward specialisation due in part to the efficiency the repairer can offer the customer in more rapid repairs with better and more complete diagnostics.

“For most makes the specialist repair shop will actually amount to a shorter repair period because they know what’s wrong with it first time rather than having to go back three times.”

This is not only better for the customer but adds efficiency right through the repair chain.

“In the UK, a lot of the repairers also have to give out (courtesy) hire vehicles as part of their insured costs. So, the quicker they are repaired the quicker they get the hire car back and the less that’s costing them on the loan vehicle.”

At a global level one of Repairify’s great advantages is the relationship it maintains with multiple OEMS. This enables them to provide an integrated solution for repairers resolving issues on vehicles with the latest technology including secure gateways,

In the US and Europe, Repairify have developed a reputation for providing not only market leading technology and solutions, but also as a result of their understanding of the requirements of the vehicle repair market have been able to tailor services to meet specific needs.  In addition, Martin says, the qualified, trained and focussed technicians recognise that much of their work takes place at the end of the repair process so the importance of supporting customers to program, calibrate or scan the vehicle and resolve any issues is critical.

“These are some of the driving factors in the UK and why people use Repairify.”

Martin Brown will be the keynote speaker at Symposium24 on June 19

More details at ncrsymposium.com.au

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