NCR asTech Patent

asTech announces patent for system to determine if aftermarket scan tool OK

AsTech has announced that it had received a patent for a method where technicians could send a VIN to a database “and assist in determining whether an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) diagnostic tool – or aftermarket tool – is required for proper diagnosis and/or repair of the vehicle.”

According to Cris Hollingsworth, president of Repairify, who does business as asTech said: “asTech’s technology is an industry “game changer” by providing unique functionality to access vital OEM and aftermarket remote diagnostics data via VINs, and this newest patent will help us in protecting that technology. ASE technicians will be empowered to quickly access the correct automotive tools to address unique vehicle functionalities accurately and safely via diagnostics and repair data. This newest patent to be issued will be another competitive strategic step for accelerating our solutions and offerings across the entire automotive ecosystem.”

asTech said the patented method would “serve as the brains” for a product it expects to release later this summer, as the product will accurately address vehicles’ OEM and aftermarket remote diagnostic needs for three important automotive repair sectors: collision, mechanical, and glass.

The private equity-backed asTech/Repairify bought the manufacturers of aftermarket scan tools BlueLink (which is more of a DIY consumer product) and ServicePad this year. However, it has for years been adamant that only the OEM scan tools it connects vehicles to remotely are acceptable for collision repair. Aftermarket mechanical repair scan tools are a different story, the company has said.

Jake Rodenroth, asTech OEM and industry technical relations director said that aftermarket scan tools for mechanical repair made sense because “we’re focused on a concern.” The customer complains about a specific issue and scan tools are designed for such “pointed problems”. “Essentially, if a scan tool allowed the mechanical shop to diagnose and resolve the customer’s specific complaint, then the device did its job. “There’s some great aftermarket tools out there, there really are, but they were built for a business model where you know what the problem is. Body shops needed to learn everything about the vehicle, and no two collisions produce the same vehicle conditions,” said, Rodenroth. “Therefore, an OEM scan tool was necessary for collision repair.”

asTech patent application No.16/202,642 describes looking up the VIN with a photograph of the VIN alphanumeric characters themselves or an image of a bar code. From there, a processor would send the VIN to a diagnostic database and “receive an indication that an OEM diagnostic tool is required for a diagnosis of the vehicle” or “receive an indication that an OEM diagnostic tool is not required for a diagnosis of the vehicle.”

The system would either “select the OEM diagnostic tool for the diagnosis of the vehicle” or “select a non-OEM diagnostic tool for the diagnosis of the vehicle”, depending upon the above indication.

Interestingly, asTech has not yet responded to a request for further details on two points:

  1. How it knows aftermarket tools will be acceptable based upon the VIN
  2. If it planned to change its OEM-scan-tool-only model for the collision repair industry if it was going to be explicitly declaring aftermarket tools as sufficient for certain VINs.

However, according to the patent application: “In one scenario, the year, make, model, and in some instances, sub-model of vehicle may be determined based on the VIN. Vehicles of certain years, makes, models and/or sub-models may require OEM diagnostic tools, whereas other vehicles may be diagnosed by using non-OEM diagnostic tools, such as generic or third-party diagnostic tools.”

This article courtesy of John Huetter of Repairer Driven Education (RDE). Check out their website at; http://www.repairerdrivennews.com/ for this and many other informative and educational articles on the collision repair industry.

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