Written by Kristen Felder, CEO of Collision Hub, LLC
No matter what magazine you read or online news sources you follow in collision repair, every source is making space to talk about OEM repair information and its critical function in the industry.
While the importance of the OE procedures and their application in the repair process has not changed in the last 30 years, what has changed is the growing requirements for estimators to have access to these procedures. Historically, the industry has always treated the OE procedures as required material or knowledge for the technician performing the repair. It was never seen as something the front office of a collision center or the field estimators for an insurer or independent firm needed to reference to complete an estimate.
With the advancements in today’s vehicle construction methods, substrates and electronics, it is now impossible to complete an accurate estimate without having access to manufacturer procedures. Understanding the total process can prevent costly and time-consuming supplements.
There are four key areas of OEM repair information that estimators should review before each part replacement or labor operation begins.
Today’s vehicles are complex and as such, they require complex tooling by the collision repair center.
These specialized tools can range from structural equipment to welding to electronics. Understanding what tooling is required to perform all the required procedures and operations in any given repair helps address potential additional expenses and time delays.
Certain equipment may require additional time for setup and completion of functioning tests. In other situations, the equipment may require the vehicle be transported to a separate location.
Let’s face it: the sheer volume of parts and part numbers have rapidly increased over just the last 10 years. One of the largest contributors to the growing list is clips and fasteners. An ever increasing number of those are being marked as one-time-use parts.
While as an industry, we’ve always been aware of one-time use bolts, fasteners or assemblies (steering columns) as it pertains to suspension or restraint systems, the not-so obvious parts that are often forgotten can lead to either a costly supplement or an incorrect repair.
It’s rare today that anything within a vehicle serves just one purpose. The beautiful trim and interior the customer found so appealing at purchase may also serve to direct airbag deployment. Ensuring all components are securely reinstalled is why OEs designate a part for single use. Those small parts can add up to a substantial line item and in some cases additional time and effort by the parts department to track down these not-so-common OE part numbers.
As engineers seek to lighten and strengthen today’s vehicles, they have sought out a variety of manufactured substrates. We’re not merely discussing the differences between steel or aluminum, but the vast characteristics and requirements of multiple types of steels and composite materials. As the OEs combine all this variety into one vehicle design, how those panels connect and stay connected have given rise to increased material requirements during the repair.
It’s no longer a simple process of connecting one panel to another, but the technician will find themselves connecting several layers of different material to complete the repair process. In many cases the OEs will designate a limited list of products that can be used to perform the repair. These products may be supplied by external companies and tested to meet their standards, or they may be proprietary to a specific OE and only available through a dealership parts department.
It is imperative that all material requirements of the repair are addressed during the estimating process. It is not uncommon to find these costs exceed $300.00 for something as simple as a quarter panel replacement. Perhaps more important is that all materials are ordered or appropriated early in the planning stages of the repair to ensure the technician does not encounter delays in the completion of the repair.
Additional Labor Operations and Procedures
Many in the industry have reached the realization that we’re no longer simply repairing vehicles. In reality, we’re repairing rolling computers that carry our customers from point A to point B.
With any technology, when one part or component is damaged it can and often does affect others within that piece of technology’s operating systems. The vehicles we’re working on are exactly the same. While physical damage may only be to a bumper, the systems or components that attach to or work from the bumper can be affected. This may be by collateral damage from the physical loss or indirect loss from the repair process.
As we disconnect and reconnect electrical components, many of those systems will need to be rebooted. The process required to complete the reboot may be simple, in which the vehicle automatically relearns, or it may be complex, requiring operations such as four-wheel alignments or extensive dynamic testing.
Regardless, these are critical operations to the overall operation of the vehicle. They will add time and expenses to your overall repair plan and will need to be identified and addressed early on in your repair planning. Making OE repair information a standard practice in your estimating routine can increase your accuracy, decrease repair delays and improve the overall outcome for the customer.
Learn more about Audatex US.
Guest writer: Kristen Felder, CEO of Collision Hub, LLC
Ask any champion and they’ll tell you that all of their success can be attributed to the work they put in before the game. The hours of practice, conditioning and research on an opponent is ultimately what leads to a winning game day performance.
Becoming a champion in estimating requires the same work.
The foundation of your success is based on the effort you put in before entering a single line on your estimate. It’s so tempting with the pace and performance expectations on today’s estimators to just grab your notebook or tablet and head to the car, but if you want to go from good to great, you’re going to need a solid pre-inspection routine.
Step one: know the facts of the accident
If you went to a doctor complaining of pain, he or she would ask you a few questions, like “when did it start?” and “what were you doing at the time?” Just like the doctor, you need to get a complete history of signs and symptoms.
Having all the facts around an accident is crucial in helping you identify the areas your inspection should focus on. Important facts like whether the vehicle was moving or parked, how many restrained passengers were in the car, whether the vehicle went off-road and whether it slid—all this information will assist you in identifying the primary and secondary areas of damage.
If the customer is present, ask some questions. If they’re not around, take the time to call them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called in to sort out a disagreement between a shop and an insurer over what is or is not accident-related damages, only to have it settled with a five-minute phone call to the customer. Being proactive will save you time and save your customer a lot of frustration.
Step two: review the OEM repair information
This step may be a no-brainer for some readers, but I’ve found that few players in our industry actually access OEM information when they write a repair plan. What I hear most often from repairers and insurers is they don’t know where to start and the cost is too great.
Rest assured, there are many ways to access OEM repair information these days. In fact, it’s never been simpler or more affordable. There are many free resources, like the I-Car Repairability Technical Support Portal, where users can find a variety of information, including a restraint system matrix, partial panel replacement guides and videos that will help them navigate the OEM procedure websites.
In addition, I-CAR has centralized access to OEM position statements, a repair matrix (see below for downloadable reparability matrixes) and a daily repairability article. I’ve found these articles to be extremely helpful—an article around an OEM’s position on bumper cover repair, for example, could save time both during your estimating decisions and later when creating a supplement.
Download OEM reparability matrixes here:
With today’s vehicles, the estimating process can generate a lot of questions, which makes OEM information all the more critical. We’re now faced with not just determining repair vs. replacement but also whether the shop is properly equipped, i.e. are there any specialty material requirements such as rivets and adhesives to acquire, or tools for performing diagnostics or calibrations that might require sublet.
Knowing all of this information will not only help you write a complete and accurate estimate for the customer, but it will also help plan the repair so as not to add any unnecessary delays and compound rental expenses to the claim.
Step three: collect all the parts information available
I’ve been working with the data providers for over 20 years and while each of them work tirelessly to provide the best product, no estimating database is perfect. Many shops keep multiple systems and frequently go back and forth between them to find every part needed for a repair. For me, I like to keep the OEM-direct parts information handy so that I can review the exact same diagrams the parts department at the dealership is seeing. This becomes especially important when dealing with any non-reusable or one-time-use parts such as bolts, trim pieces and even some sun visors.
Our quick reference spreadsheet is always up on my second screen while I work through the blueprinting and estimating of each vehicle. It helps to quickly locate what I need by mirror-matching the part removed from the vehicle to 3D graphics in Audatex or the OEM parts websites.
Step four: take your time
I remember growing up in the shop and handwriting estimates with my dad. There was a time when estimating damage was simpler and we could almost guess a repair amount that would be close to the final estimate. Well, those days are gone. With the advancements in materials, design and electronics, estimating today’s collision damage takes time.
I get it—shop estimators have a lot full of cars and it seems every insurer wants their estimate in 24 hours. For field adjusters, it’s a stack of 30 cars to see today and tomorrow will bring another 30. Think about the time lost each day completing needless supplements and reinspections. As it turns out, one of the most important lessons my dad taught me was to do it right the first time. This also holds true in estimating.
Our customers deserve our best, not just the best we have right now. Slow down, gather all of your tools and information, take your time, think through the repair (not the damage) and write the best sheet on every car.
Taking the necessary time on each estimate to check all the facts and gather expert resources will not only improve your accuracy but you’ll likely see a huge boost in productivity. That’s when you know you’re winning at estimating.
MAIDENHEAD, UK and SYDNEY, Australia / 3rd June, 2019 – Autodata Publishing Group Limited (“Autodata”), a Solera Holdings, Inc. (“Solera”) group company and a global leader in automotive technical information, today confirmed the acquisition of AutoMate Training Pty. Ltd. (“AutoMate”), the automotive industry’s foremost provider of online technical training and professional development platforms.
Founded and based in Sydney, Australia, AutoMate has rapidly expanded from a fledgling start-up to become a globally competitive player, offering automotive eLearning to thousands of automotive professionals and workshops in more than 60 countries. AutoMate’s unique, online training programs combine cutting-edge 3D visualization with comprehensive real-vehicle analysis – all developed by a highly-experienced team of automotive experts and specialists.
AutoMate and Autodata are both trusted and valued information service providers to more than eighty five thousand independent and enterprise automotive repair shops across the world, as well as corporate clients in the automotive service, maintenance and repair (“SMR”) industry. Autodata itself is recognized as the go-to automotive data solution for workshops with many countries seeing eight in ten workshops choosing Autodata to meet their SMR and automotive diagnostics needs.
Jonathan Sampson, Managing Director and founder of AutoMate said: “Joining the Solera family is a logical and exciting next step on our strategic journey as a company. This union will see AutoMate’s renowned training programs made available in new global markets and will ensure increased business growth through further product development. AutoMate’s eLearning expertise, combined with Autodata’s highly advanced diagnostic and repair data, promises to deliver new and existing customers a compelling suite of products for the automotive mechanic.”
Rod Williams, Managing Director of Autodata said: “AutoMate’s innovative solutions and strong management team provide immediate value with Solera. Together we provide immense value to Solera’s 400,000+ SMR users with AutoMate, enabling us to further capitalize on the opportunity to service both our existing users and beyond with AutoMate’s solutions.”
Solera was founded with the mission to digitalize and empower mobility transactions across the critical 54 and 250 lifecycle touchpoints of a vehicle, delivering true transparency and knowledge to all stakeholders. Today, Solera’s leading digital technologies manage and protect life’s most important assets: our cars, trucks, homes and digital identities. The company processes more than 300 million digital transactions annually for approximately 235,000 partners and customers in over 90 countries. For more information, please visit www.solera.com.
Established in 1972, Autodata is a trusted world leader in providing technical information to the automotive aftermarket. Autodata develops products for use in automotive workshops for the repair and servicing of cars and motorbikes, as well as corporate solutions for companies requiring bespoke platforms or integration with Autodata’s technical information.
Through long-standing relationships, all data is licensed directly from 142 manufacturers, covering 34,000 models worldwide. The new Autodata web application features 90,000 diagrams and illustrations, covering over 600,000 step by step procedures. Autodata is part of the Solera group. For more information about Autodata and its latest developments, please visit www.autodata-group.com
Founded in 2014, AutoMate has made a name for itself as the industry’s leading provider of online technical training platforms for the automotive sector. AutoMate’s suite of digital training products are designed to support technicians throughout their entire automotive career, giving them easy, on-demand access to high-tech video training, covering fundamental and emerging automotive systems. AutoMate develops these knowledge solutions for trainee and professional technicians in over 60 countries, as well as corporate solutions for companies requiring bespoke training solutions. For more information, please visit www.automatetraining.com
Cautions About Forward-Looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements, including statements about: the benefits of the acquisition of AutoMate (the “Acquisition”), including but not limited to the benefits and value of products and services to Solera’s, Autodata’s and AutoMate’s customers, either alone or in conjunction with the products and services of other Solera group companies. These statements are based on Solera’s current expectations, estimates and assumptions and are subject to many risks, uncertainties and unknown future events that could cause actual results to differ materially. Actual results may differ materially from those set forth in this press release due to the risks and uncertainties inherent in transactions of this nature, and Solera’s, Autodata’s and AutoMate’s respective businesses, including, without limitation: the failure to realize the expected benefits of the Acquisition; risks associated with and possible negative consequences of acquisitions, investments, joint ventures and similar transactions; successfully integrating AutoMate’s solutions with or into Autodata’s or other Solera group offerings, including but not limited to, continued adoption of AutoMate’s Autodata’s and the Solera group’s products and services; effects of competition on product and service pricing and AutoMate’s, Autodata’s and the Solera group’s business; Solera’s ability to obtain additional financing as necessary to support its business or operations; rapid technology changes in Solera’s industry; and effects of security breaches on Solera’s business and reputation. Solera is under no obligation to (and specifically disclaims any such obligation to) update or alter its forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
Tarr’s extensive experience leading data and technology-enabled services companies will usher in a new phase of growth
WESTLAKE, Texas–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Solera Holdings, Inc. (“Solera”), a global leader in risk and asset management data and software as a service (SaaS) solutions for the automotive and insurance industries, today announced that Jeff Tarr has joined the company as a director and its new CEO. Tarr, who replaces Tony Aquila as Solera’s CEO, will be leading the company in its next phase of growth.
“Jeff’s wealth of experience and his focus on building a high-performing team and culture committed to unlocking value for customers and shareholders alike make him the perfect leader for this next phase in Solera’s growth”
Tarr has two decades of experience leading data and technology-enabled services companies spanning multiple sectors. Most recently, Tarr served as CEO and President of DigitalGlobe, Inc. where he led the launch of innovative products that leveraged AI and other new technologies, entered new markets and nearly tripled the company’s revenue. Prior to DigitalGlobe, Tarr was President and COO of IHS Inc. (now IHS Markit Ltd.) where he helped transform the business into a high-growth, high-margin provider of information and insight.
“Jeff’s wealth of experience and his focus on building a high-performing team and culture committed to unlocking value for customers and shareholders alike make him the perfect leader for this next phase in Solera’s growth,” said Darko Dejanovic, Vista Operating Principal and Solera Board member. “During Tony’s tenure, the Solera team built the company into a global leader. Solera is in a place of strength and we look forward to working with and supporting Jeff as he leads Solera to new heights.”
“I am honored to be joining Solera, and I look forward to working with the team to continue to grow the company, invest in our products and deliver an industry-leading experience to Solera’s customers and partners,” said Jeff Tarr, CEO of Solera. “For over 50 years, Solera has been leveraging data and software to serve the automotive and insurance industries. With more than 300 million transactions annually across the Solera ecosystem today, no company is better positioned to apply data and technology to protecting the assets people depend upon in their daily lives.”
Tarr serves on numerous corporate and philanthropic boards, including as Member of the Board of Directors of EchoStar Corporation, Chairman of the Stanford Graduate School of Business Management Board, Co-Chairman of the World Economic Forum’s Council on the Future of Space Technologies, Member of the Board of the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Solera is a global leader in risk and asset management data and software as a service (SaaS) solutions for the automotive and insurance industries. Solera is active in over 90 countries across six continents. Solera has over 235,000 customers and partners, including many of the largest U.S. and European P&C insurance companies and most of the world’s largest vehicle OEMs, as well as national governments, financial institutions, vehicle dealership, vehicle repair shops, salvage yards and vehicle buyers and sellers. For more information, please visit www.solera.com.
Part 3: A Little Bit of KITT Will Be in Every Vehicle
It’s tough to choose a car. Not only do you need to decide on make and model, but also the operating system, features and color scheme. And with the rapid technological development we’ve seen in the past few years, features become outdated with each new model. We change our mobile phones every couple of years; however, the average age of cars on the road is approximately 12 years old. A lot of the technological advancements we see spilling into other areas of tech don’t make it into the vehicle.
However, the industry is quickly realizing that vehicles must meet the new the standard of convenience in a world where Amazon and Uber dominate their markets. Luckily, innovations like steering applications and system updates can help the industry meet customer demands.
Some of the what we’re alluding to is possible today—upgrading and purchasing maps are you drive into a new country is a reality. But imagine your car could automatically upgrade your insurance, recharge itself, pay for your dinner, pay road taxes and adhere to speed limits on its own. With this kind of technology, you could download packages for certain seasons or regions, allowing you to program your air conditioning to maximize cooling or heating. Additional features like off-road and on-road driving optimization can be added to that list of must-haves.
Car subscription services could become new revenue opportunities for OEMs, providing revenue streams beyond the initial purchase price. Imagine your car runs a vehicle check on its own, rather than having to go to a garage.
“Hey, Tom, do you want us to run a vehicle health check on your Acura for $1 per month?” Yes, please.
The process of repairing a car will become more much convenient. In the not so distant future cars will be able to diagnose themselves and book as well as consume services to fix emerging. Today, Solera companies already work with Lyft, the ride-sharing service which recently IPO-ed, to deliver parts on time for commercial vehicles.
While this new reality lies ahead, another opportunity presenting itself now are voice assistants. At the moment they are largely focused on info- and entertainment which leads Kunz, Product Owner at R3PI, to believe that there is a substantial opportunity in expanding their scope to offer vehicle management related services to car owners and drivers. Imagine your car making suggestions on when and where to get your winter tires put on or your regular service done while also managing these appointments making the experience as seamless and unobtrusive as possible.
“It’s time for a break. I have ordered you a coffee ready to pick up at Starbucks, three blocks from your location.” Maybe your car also helps you book a hotel in case of unexpected travel delays. The opportunities are endless.
Voice assistants are still a challenge to perfect—obstacles like background sounds and lack of connectivity to WiFi impede the best customer experience. But we anticipate a world where voice assistants, automatic downloads and subscription models become the new standard for vehicle innovation, helping you learn more about the health of your vehicle while taking care of you.
Tell us what you think! Join in the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn – we would love to connect with you!
Part 2: Will Parking Be A Challenge of The Future?
We believe that until all vehicles are used 100% of the time, and your autonomous vehicle works while you do, parking will remain an issue in densely populated cities.
The good news is that several companies have begun to address this problem and already marketed apps to help drivers find, access and pay for parking. Ever heard of Just Park, Parku or Best Parking? You will soon.
Right now, these apps are focused on mapping parking spots in cities, allowing users to book spots and earn money on parking spots while the owner’s not using it. And think of all the business parks and garages that are empty on the weekends. These spaces could be utilized to clear up parking congestion.
Imagine the ultimate convenience: your car drops you off for a night out, finds a parking spot to sit in, and picks you up when you’re reading to head home. Sounds too good to be true, right? We believe it’s actually possible! For this to happen, a few things need to be set in motion:
- Technology needs to be more connected. It’s imperative that mobile devices and vehicle software connect so users can inform their car of the pickup time and set location.
- The vehicle needs to be able to not only drive autonomously, e.g. within a parking lot or a few blocks, but also pay for parking and be able to exit the garage on its own.
- City planning must allow for these types of experiences to occur, as in, you need to ensure your car can actually “meet” you in a busy area.
Many of these experiences, we believe, are just around the corner. Soon, you’ll see vehicles and next-generation methods of mobility popping up in a city near you.
Photo: Thomas Desmet and Marco Kunz, both Product Owners at R3PI, discussing automotive trends.
The way we travel is fundamentally changing before our eyes. New systems of transportation are allowing us to be hypermobile and vehicles are becoming more intelligent, cleaner and safer. These improved vehicles will help us to responsibly utilize the space we have in crowded cities, for example, and hopefully solve many infrastructural problems.
For most of us, owning your own vehicle is incredibly convenient, but this convenience is costly. In the future, your vehicle could become an earning asset, not just a depreciating one.
These three factors, we believe, are driving change in the industry:
Urbanization and sustainability – the need to utilize vehicles better and reduce the amount of pollution from vehicles.
Flexibility and seamless travel – the need to have transportation available anywhere, and the need to move seamlessly from A to B.
Technology, specifically software – more sensors provide more data and combined with more computing power and applications create more abilities to support the driver with the ultimate goal of making the driver redundant and maneuvering the vehicle along roads autonomously.
At Solera’s innovation hub, R3PI, we think a lot about how these changes will impact the automotive industry. We asked our experts to discuss a few trends they think will change the way we think about cars today.
Product Leaders Thomas Desmet, Marco Kunz and Pascal Stucki develop and launch new products for Solera and its customers. These guys spend their days thinking about the next big thing in automotive tech. We’ll be sharing some of their key insights in a three-part series: Automotive Trends.
Part 1 is all about market share and new opportunities for players in the OEM space. Be on the lookout for Parts 2 & 3, but for now, enjoy!
Part 1: Competing for market share and new income opportunities in the OEM space
Most autonomous driving projects are happening in tech firms, often in partnership with the automobile industry to combine the collective knowledge into hardware and software products.
Take the UBER and Toyota cooperation as an example, where Toyota, Denso invested $667 million to jointly work on autonomous driving, despite burning through significant cash.
“This is super capital-intensive R&D,” according to Desmet. And we’re not talking about small projects—recently Uber’s self-driving venture was valued at over $7 billion. Just for comparison, in its 15 years, Tesla is valued at over $60 billion, surpassing the 100-year old German OEM giant BMW and Daimler, valued at approximately $55 billion.
Also, tech veteran Microsoft is looking for its share of the pie, providing the cloud-based Azure autonomous driving platform to early cooperation partners including VW, Renault and Nissan.
While Waymo, Google’s autonomous vehicle is reported to drive most miles without human intervention.
Stucki notes the emerging competition is something pretty exciting to watch. “Matching the best software developers with the leading hardware providers creates a lot of potential in a market that’s just waiting for disruption.”
Two examples of this match made in heaven come to mind: A. Microsoft Office is enabled in non-Microsoft devices, and B. OEMs provide both hardware and software, as we see with Apple and Tesla.
“We believe that we will see both in the future, where traditional OEMs are more likely to rely on software providers,” says Stucki.
Tesla is taking autonomous vehicles further—the company recently announced that it can run robotaxis in the Tesla model 3.
“This is where it becomes interesting, says Desmet “In comparison to other vehicles, a Tesla can make money for you and be considered an investment rather than a commodity.”
“If you consider the future, in a world where everything is available for peer-to-peer rental, anything you own, from your clothes to your apartment, could make money for you when you’re not using it,” adds Stucki.
Following British designer Vivienne Westwood’s words, “Buy less, choose well and make it last,” Desmet twists it: “Buy less, choose well and let it make money for you.”
Tell us what you think! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram!
Solera to sponsor Red Cross’s Sound the Alarm event in the Kentucky area for smoke alarm installation and fundraising for lifesaving services
WESTLAKE, Texas, April 29, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Solera Holdings, Inc. (“Solera”), a global leader in intelligent data and software as a service (SaaS) to manage and secure the automotive, light and heavy truck fleet, home and identity ecosystems, today announced its partnership with the American Red Cross (“the Red Cross”) to sponsor Sound the Alarm, an outreach program to raise funds for and supply proper fire safety equipment to at-risk communities throughout the United States.
Sound the Alarm events will be taking place in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands over two weeks this spring, from April 27 to May 12. With the assistance of local fire departments and other volunteer networks, as well as local community volunteers, participants will install free smoke alarms, resolve home fire hazards and help families create escape plans.
“Every day, seven people tragically lose their lives in home fires across the U.S.—often, because they don’t have working smoke alarms and a plan to escape safely,” said Jennifer Adrio, chief executive officer, for the American Red Cross Kentucky Region. “Hundreds of families have been kept safe from devastating fire by these smoke alarms, and the Red Cross has verified 57 lives saved in the Kentucky Region, since the inception of the program in 2014. We’re proud to partner with companies like Solera who value action and caring for your community.”
Many fire fatalities can be prevented with functioning smoke alarms. The Red Cross started the Home Fire Campaign to reduce fire-related injuries and deaths by 25% and since 2014 has installed over 1.5 million smoke alarms and reached 1.3 million youth through its fire preparedness trainings.
Ron Massey, Head of Human Resources for Solera, said, “Our mission as a company is to make vehicles, roads and homes safer, and the spirit of the Red Cross aligns perfectly with that mission. This event is giving families everything they need to build a sustainable home environment that will keep them safe for many years. We want to help keep communities thriving without the fear of losing a home to fire.”
To learn more about events happening in your area or to donate to the program, please visit redcross.org/sound-the-alarm.
Solera was founded by Tony Aquila with the mission to digitalize and empower mobility transactions across the critical 54 and 250 lifecycle touchpoints of a car, truck and fleet, delivering true transparency and knowledge to all stakeholders. Today, Solera’s leading digital technologies manage and protect life’s most important assets: our cars, trucks, homes and digital identities. The company processes more than 300 million digital transactions annually for approximately 235,000 partners and customers in over 90 countries. For more information, please visit solera.com.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.
SOURCE Solera Holdings, Inc.
April is National Welding Month and to celebrate, we’re taking a closer look at this integral step in the vehicle manufacturing and repairing process.
To make this month even sweeter, Solera is in the middle of a major construction project on our new CESVI LIV North America center, a research and training site for automotive professionals. Welding courses, hands-on training and specialized curriculum will be available throughout the year at the center. See the news coverage of our groundbreaking here.
Outside of large manufacturing outfits, welding is still a human process that requires a high level of skill and technical proficiency. But as the industry’s workforce ages, the need for expert welders increases. Here’s your guide to why the world needs Grade-A welders, and what industry partners can do to promote this coveted skill.
The auto industry relies on welding expertise
Welding is critical for collision repair. The various types of welding require different levels of skill and technical expertise, even on a single vehicle. For example, the 2018 Honda Accord has 66% spot welds, 27.3% steel MIG welds and 6.7% MIG brazing, according to Identifix. That’s three separate techniques to master. Many shops do not have the capacity for high-powered, industrial equipment such as lasers or robotics. Repairing a vehicle after its been damaged in an accident takes a skilled welder with an eye for precision.
Training is a top priority
According to I-CAR, 69% of technicians lack welding training or certifications. There’s a major gap in welding education, and an even greater gap in representation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 2% of all welders are women. Meanwhile, the profession is seeing an increase in demand. Luckily, welding training is becoming more accessible with trade programs and specialized courses offered through industry partners.
Solera is piloting its own research and training center, its first in North America, to educate and equip the next generation of automotive repair professionals. With state-of-the-art resources and innovation labs, the CESVI LIV center will be at the helm of vehicle repair knowledge and safety implementation, acting on the data and findings from hands-on, real-time experiments and road tests. The most valuable course for students will be the welding inspection course, where technicians will learn how to determine if welds are quality or not based on OEM specifications and the American Welding Society standards.
If you’re a great welder, you’re probably a great partner
Patience is a virtue; we all know that. What we didn’t know is that to be a good welder, you need to have lots of patience for your craft. Welding is a skill that will develop over time, much like any other. Technicians are challenged to follow the design of the vehicle as closely as possible when working on a repair, so closely studying welding techniques is critical to a quality overall fix. You won’t be the world’s best welder on your first try—you do need to put in a lot of hours in the shop to be decent at welding, and there’s always more to learn. Staying humble and eager to improve are essential to building up your skill.
Meet R3PI Innovation Evangelist Aleksi Asikainen
R3PI is the innovation hub of Solera, a global leader in intelligent data and software as a service. It’s not your typical office.
At R3PI, we have a passion for the unknown and the yet-to-be-imagined. Every day, we create new forms of intelligence, shape smarter diagnostics and challenge what’s possible in technology. You’ll get your hands dirty in our garage-style offices and experiment with data and diagnostics to build the future of industry.
Today, a fascinating conversation with a lead architect at R3PI. A self-described “janitor,” Aleksi has a hand in everything from early product development to strategy to implementation.
Can you explain what a typical day looks like for you?
Each day is pretty varied. The only constant is that everything changes! At any given time, we’re in early stage R&D with a product and turning another over to the industrial team.
What are the challenges currently facing the industry?
Trucking is facing a huge driver problem in both North America and Europe. Young people just aren’t getting into it. But the technology is changing rapidly. The driverless solution probably isn’t there yet, but we’re thinking about how we can move cargo, navigate high-traffic situations, deliver goods on time, etc.
How do these challenges affect our customers? How do they affect consumers?
The entire ecosystem is changing. We predict this level of change will be similar to what the cellphone was to telephone communication. Once the transition to autonomous cars happens, it’ll change our culture—how we use vehicles and how they operate. Vehicle ownership will change, you won’t even own a vehicle. Cities will change, you’ll no longer need parking lots, gas stations on every corner, repair shops. It obviously comes with challenges for car sales and maintenance and repair shops.
In North America, it’s a cultural thing. A lot of people want to own a car. But there’s a convenience factor to think about: with an autonomous vehicle, you don’t have to wait in traffic, you can be on your phone. You don’t have to pay for vehicle insurance or repairs, because it’ll be a subscription-based system.
What are R3PI and Solera doing to solve these challenges?
There are a lot of different elements necessary to operate driverless cars at scale. You need to manage the fleet, track the vehicles, service them. Repair shops and different service providers have to be able to connect with other cars and carry out operations and upgrades. That information needs to find its way back to whoever or whatever is managing that vehicle. That’s the space we’re focused on. the exchange of information between different parties.
In today’s vehicles, it’s a huge problem. When you’re buying a car, you don’t know what’s happened to it before that moment. Was it in an accident, what parts does it have? Is the odometer reading correctly or was it replaced? One of our focuses is to ensure all this information and data is gathered to a trusted place. We can become a trusted source for that information. Our Digital Garage App is one of these connections points we continue to build on. You as an owner can track all things relevant about your car, connect with your garage, insurance and dealership. Bringing all stakeholders together and helping drivers to keep track of data will help to facilitate ownership changes and make it more efficient. There are a lot of different actors with huge amounts of data. But they keep it for their own purposes, rather than sharing it and figuring out how to make it work for their customers. We think that will change.
How can the automotive industry prepare for the future?
There’s a lot of interest in having networks like these built. But blockchain concepts and data exchange between actors are in the very early stages. It’s not the early stages for the technology, it’s the politics, frankly. Companies tend to be very protective of their data because it’s valuable. But in order for blockchain to work, you have to share it with your partners. That’s a change in thinking. A couple of outliers will start it, and that will spark change in the industry and be the catalyst for everyone else.
Tell everyone at home what we mean when we say “secure logistics.”
Secure logistics is an extension of what we’ve been talking about. How can we build security that takes advantage of all the data we’re getting? Here I am thinking about making sure data has not be tampered with, utilizing data and data sources to prevent and identify fraud and identifying the driver and asset. You will be seeing a lot of new innovations in that space.