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Seyfer: Shops Have Time to Adjust to New Tech

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In the weeks leading up to its Summit this December in Nashville, ADAPT Automotive will talk with several keynote speakers and other presenters who will be at the conference about pressing topics and trends facing the industry.

NASTF Executive Director Donny Seyfer spoke to ADAPT about when shops should start upgrading their equipment to handle new technologies such as ADAS systems and about shop techs getting the recognition they deserve.

As told to Digital Multimedia Editor Noah Brown

Autonomous technology isn't coming right away, and definitely not at the speed that some of the evangelists for autonomous were talking about. There will be a lot of autopilot and similar technologies that will be coming out, and a lot of the systems that are already on cars that we consider new -- such as ADAS and things like that --- will become more refined. That’s a fabulous thing, slowing down the delivery of this technology so that the root systems that support some of these technologies, the training and service information have a chance to catch up. 

 When you're trying to decide when to learn the technology, you have to look at what you're working on. You have to look at your market. For the collision industry, yeah, they need to be running full speed because they do so many things and are seeing so many different vehicles in crashes. They need to know what they're doing on the front end to save money and to save cycle time.

On the service repair side, though, we're working on 11- to 15-year-old cars. Freaking out about whether you're going to be able to fix a car that's got ADAS when, quite frankly, the kinds of repairs that we get involved with are things we've been doing for a long time. When a car gets hit hard enough in a repair or a collision environment that camera needs to be replaced, more likely than not that car is done. You have to put some common sense around when and what to catch up on.

Where there's opportunities to learn systems, that's extremely valuable if you've got a market. If you’re working on those systems already, then by golly, you better get caught up. 

When those vehicles start showing up in your shop, you have to be up to speed, otherwise you're turning away jobs and you're turning them away on a regular basis because you're not equipped.

That's a problem, but that's not going to be an overnight thing. I’m not saying you shouldn’t prepare, because you absolutely should, but it’s incremental. Let your customers drive when you start adopting, or you're going to have to go out and look for the business to rationalize the tools that will become outdated before they become mainstream.

One of the things that having all this technology in the cars will do is the technicians who step up and learn how to do it and do it well will be accepted as the level of professionals that they actually already are. It's an unfortunate situation that people assume that just because sometimes when you work on a car, because it drives on the streets, you get dirty and that’s somehow your value. That part just frustrates the hell out of me. I think technicians will be recognized for the skills that they possess, and quite frankly, a lot of the skills they already possess are far more difficult to get than working with a computer. I don't think this is a big lift for our folks. 

Image: Artem Podrez

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