Recap of the OEM Collision Repair Technology Summit

John Yoswick has done a great job picking up on some of the important points made during the OEM Collision Repair Technology Summit at the SEMA Show. This first caption is especially important to our members. This is exactly why manufacturers may differ in their recommended repair procedures, and why it is critical to follow them and not rely on experience on other brands.

OTHER CAUTIONS WHEN WORKING WITH ALUMINUM: The potential explosion hazard posed by aluminum dust (CRASH 11/17/14) was not the only cautionary note for shops shared by Kaiser Aluminum’s Doug Richman at the “OEM Collision Repair Technology Summit” hosted last month by the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS). Richman said following automaker recommended repair procedures is crucial. Car companies can choose from a wide variety of aluminum materials, each with its own tempers and characteristics, he said. Even knowing the “number” designating a type of aluminum isn’t enough. “When you see a number like ‘6061,’ what you need to understand is every manufacturer of 6061 has a different formulation – or in fact multiple formulations – that are 6061 materials,” Richman said. “Just because it says ‘6061’ doesn’t mean it acts like the ‘6061’ on the next vehicle you see. They are very different. Be certain that you consult the OEM recommended repair practices for the specific model, because even within a manufacturer, they have varying practices depending on the specific design or model.” Following manufacturer guidelines for rivets and adhesives is also critical, he said. Use of the incorrect adhesive, for example, may not ensure the necessary gap for that adhesive is maintained between the pieces being joined, Richman said.

MORE SPECIALTY MATERIALS COMING: Automakers discussing changing vehicle technology at the SCRS-hosted summit shared Richman’s emphasis on the need to review OEM procedures regularly. “Check them for every repair because you never know when there’s going to be a change in a repair procedure that may be a better way of doing things,” Mark Allen of Audi of America said. Though none of the automakers at the summit revealed specific vehicles under development, many said to watch for more widespread use of currently less-common materials. “Carbon fiber is something you’re going to see not only in the new BMW i3, but in mass-produced BMWs as well in the future,” Tom Brizuela, body and paint technical team leader for BMW of North America, said. “We have an aluminum product coming, and we are experimenting with carbon fiber as well,” Leo Gruzas, manager of body/exterior service engineering for General Motors, said. Whether or not a shop chooses to specialize in certain types of vehicles or get OEM certifications, Allen said, the increasing complexity of vehicle design and materials means the days of shops repairing virtually any car that comes in should be over. “You need to put the American spirit of, ‘I can fix anything’ aside,” Allen said, comparing the need for specialization by shops to specialization in the medical profession. “You are better off stepping away from a job and helping that customer be safe and get to the right repairer who has the training, than to selfishly go at that job. That’s a level of maturity we have to come to as a collision repair industry.”

RATE OF RETURN ON CERTIFICATION INVESTMENT: As reported in a previous issue of CRASH Network, automakers at the summit also discussed various changes coming to their shop certification programs (CRASH 11/24/14). (To clarify that previous story, Toyota was the only automaker that said post-repair inspections would become part of its shop certification program.) Such evolution in the programs is something shops should consider when deciding whether to invest in meeting the requirements for certification; if the program changes and requires additional expense before a shop has achieved a return on its original investment, it will only further delay a full return on the shop’s investment. A panel of shops with OEM certifications was asked at the summit how long it took them to see a return on investment on their first OEM shop certification. “It’s probably going to take about seven years, given the latest requirements of the Mercedes aluminum program, to give us a return on our investment,” Rodney Antepenko, owner of Westmont Body Werks in Westmont, Ill., said. Others said it took as long as 10 years or as little as five years, but all agreed it’s a difficult thing to predict or measure. Kye Yeung of European Motor Car Works in Santa Ana, Calif., said he had projected a 5-year return on investment. “But what I didn’t realize was that being associated with that particular certification brought other business in,” he said. That sped up the return on investment even though some of that return was based on work on other makes of vehicles, Yeung said. Paul Sgro, owner of Lee’s Garage in West Long Branch, N.J., agreed. “When you have a customer that has an exotic automobile you’re repairing, and the rest of his family is driving something else, you’re also taking care of their cars,” Sgro said.

Aaron Schulenburg
Executive Director | Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS)

877.435.6028 Fax

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