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From the Shop ADAPT Reports

The Right Space for ADAS Calibrations

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Aug. 18, 2020—When it comes to ADAS calibrations, space is at a premium. But as we learn more about the sensitivities of these sensor systems, it becomes clear that there's more to it than just square footage. It's about the space environment.

Back in May, Mark Kipfer of Auto Glass Express in Berkeley, Calif., talked to ADAPT about some of the steps he took to outfit his shop for static calibrations. He talked about some of the environmental factors: a level floor surface, even lighting and more.

There are many more factors, as panelists explained in a recent webinar from I-CAR.

“It surprises me how many of what I would consider high end shops, you start talking to some of these guys and they think, 'I can just put the car in the stall, and if I can get the target in front of the vehicle or in place, then I'm good,” said Bud Center, a subject matter expert with I-CAR.

Shops will need to consider how reflective surfaces might interfere with calibration equipment. Consider the patterns on the walls for the same reason, as well as any objects that might be within the sensors' ranges.

The slope of the floor, which Kipfer talked about before, is important not only to square up the vehicle with targets. When you're dealing with floor targets that are laid out around a vehicle, something like a sinking spot for a drain is enough to throw off the calibration, according to Scott VanHulle, lead associate OEM and technical relations for I-CAR.

Jake Rodenroth, director of OEM and industry technical relations at asTech, said that there's a Toyota procedure that warns against having any metal objects in front of the car while calibrating. Taking all this into consideration can add up to a very large space requirement. Rodenroth said that their smallest calibration facility is 4,000 square feet.

“It can really prohibit and tie your hands when you have to deal with those sorts of environmental challenges,” he said.

The bottom line is that if you're a shop owner who's considering jumping into more ADAS calibration work, consider all the limiting factors that might exist in your space. And keep in mind that all OEMs do things differently and have different requirements.

Rodenroth offered a couple tips. First, it might be the most cost-effective strategy to start with the top five makes that your shop sees. The investment in tools, training and space might not be worth it to work on a brand that's rarely in the shop.

Second, a lot of prep work and research might allow you to have a calibration space that serves another purpose—as long as it doesn't impede on the ADAS work.

“If you don't have calibrations to do, maybe you can dual-purpose that space for disassembly and reassembly," he said. "Don't do any welding in there. Don't do any grinding and things like that and metal work.”

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