The Power of Procedure
Sept. 12, 2022—A well-informed technician is a powerful technician. Information access is what fuels modern vehicle repair. Understanding how to equip technicians with the resources that they need to succeed can mean the difference between a shop that is prepared for the future and a shop that is not.
Repairing electric vehicles and vehicles with ADAS components is still a newer shift for shops in the industry, but it shouldn’t be ignored. As time goes on, more and more of these types of repairs will be showing up at shops. Proper training and education are key.
Darrell Amberson is the president of operations at LaMettry’s Collision in Minnesota, and Jason Zeise is the mechanical operations manager at LaMettry’s. Both agree that a thoughtful and well-informed approach is the best approach to have when it comes to these repairs.
“Every year, a higher percentage of vehicles that we work on have ADAS on them,” Amberson says.
An influx of highly technical repairs means extra attention must be paid to each situation. Zeise explains that experienced technicians can fall into a habit of not looking up repairs for tasks that they’ve done many times before. But with ADAS components, it’s important to double check.
“I use this analogy all the time: you have a body technician that can remove a bumper without looking up procedures. As an ASE Master Mechanic, I’ve done thousands of wheel alignments,” Zeise says. “I don’t need to look up how to do that wheel alignment. But without looking that up, at the last line of that wheel alignment it says, ‘You must calibrate a camera.’”
LaMettry’s prioritizes training and staffing that allows them to approach these unknowns with confidence. The new equipment available to learn and implement these types of repairs is crucial to the process as well, says Amberson.
“In terms of the ADAS work that we’re doing, there’s been a little bit more equipment that’s been released and more is coming,” Amberson says. “So, we’ve had the opportunity to look at some of that. We’ve got more choices now.”
Regardless of the amount of initial effort put in to prepare for high-tech repairs, Amberson and Zeise acknowledge the risks involved as well. One area that is especially tricky to navigate is customer data.
“The first thing that comes to mind is the customer’s personal information, and that is a huge challenge for our industry,” Amberson says.
Amberson explains that automated systems can transmit data to unknown places. For example, he says an accident report could show up with a third party and diminish the value of the vehicle and it isn’t exactly known how the third party gets access to that information. Amberson says that this risk can be easier for a customer to overlook.
“[When you] get into Bluetooth and things like that, there can be a lot of customer data in there. I know not many people think about it in a total loss situation or a vehicle trade in,” Amberson says. “A customer should have a lot of that erased before turning the car to somebody else, otherwise they have access to a lot of personal information.”
Customer data is not to be taken lightly, as Amberson and Zeise note. As vehicle technology continues to innovate, unknowns are bound to happen. But as with many tasks in this industry, finding the right place to start makes all the difference.
In terms of electric vehicle repair, Zeise says that it’s all in the procedural approach. Zeise says that safety is a necessity.
“So, if you get an electric vehicle that’s been damaged or disabled or has issues, the first thing that you need to do is look up, ‘How is it safe to work on this vehicle? Are there any concerns off-hand before I work on this vehicle? How do I disconnect the high voltage system?’” Zeise says.
Zeise also recommends using resources such as the I-CAR Repairability Technical Support service. It’s a system that grants access to a wide variety of repair information that could ordinarily take hours to research.
Regardless of how you access the information, Zeise says that it is important to do your research and do it thoroughly.
“You have to research, find out what you’re working on, what are the hazards involved, and make sure that you follow those procedures to the letter,” Zeise says.
High-tech repairs and unique shop solutions are some of the topics that Amberson and Zeise will help tackle at the ADAPT: Automotive Technology Summit this fall. The event will be held Sept. 24 through Sept. 25 in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. Both Amberson and Zeise will be speakers at the Summit.
“We’re at a crossroads [in] our industry. Many of us are attending industry events and are talking a lot about vehicle sophistication, safety issues, [and] elevating the stature of our industry...and then there is another side of the industry that’s not doing that so much,” Amberson says.
Amberson says that it is important to be prepared for what comes next. Events such as the ADAPT Summit can help stimulate conversations about the advances in vehicle technology that impact everyone across the industry.
“I think [that] one has to make a decision,” Amberson says. “Are you going to be a player in the future or not?”