ADAS For One, ADAS For All
Sept. 8, 2020—The automotive industry has become inundated with questions and confusion when it comes to calibrating advanced driver assistance systems. These systems, called ADAS, include features like cruise control, lane change assistance, emergency braking, and others. One shop in Ohio has chosen to meet this burden by opening their very own calibration center.
Bryan Kauffeld, vice president at Ulmer’s Auto Care, says staying up to date in the collision repair industry is not only an uphill battle—but an expensive one. Ulmer’s, which is located in Cincinnati, Ohio, is one of the first independent shops to have its very own ADAS calibration center.
The calibration of ADAS refers to the painstaking adjustment of cameras and sensors located throughout the vehicle that control these added features. The difference between a correct calibration and a makeshift one could be the difference between life and death. But with little guidance from the automakers and even less accessible information, calibration is becoming a necessary, but elusive art.
“We started talking about it last fall,” Kauffeld says in reference to the ADAS center. “We own a building that we had been renting out, but instead of being landlords, we decided to build the ADAS center.”
The 4,500-square-foot building had to be cleared out, renovated, and delicately put back together to meet the calibration standards set forth by OEs. The walls got a fresh coat of solid color paint, and the floors were repoured and stripped of any reflective finish that could tamper with the sensors, says Kauffeld.
Kauffeld says the shop cost around $275,000 to get up and running. That price includes renovating the space (which they already owned) and buying all the necessary equipment and tools—none of which come cheap.
Ulmer’s, which saw revenues of more than $6 million last year, decided the ADAS center would be worth the investment. Just having opened this month, Kauffeld says business has been steady. So far, their technicians have had the chance to work on General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Subaru, Nissan, Lexus, VW, Atlas, Land Rover and others.
“We are trained and have the equipment to do just about all makes and models,” he says. The technicians at Ulmer’s trained hy watching webinars, attending virtual seminars, and a representative from Autel was able to give them an in-person crash course on calibration, he says.
While the ADAS center is the hot new commodity, Kauffeld says they are already planning for the future. Located inside the ADAS center is a 30-person classroom specifically designated for calibration training.
Kauffeld says they hold classes, training seminars, and even guest speakers in the classroom, which is conveniently placed in between the shop and the calibration center. The intent behind the classroom is not to entice other technicians to join his team, Kauffeld says, but rather to educate industry professionals.
“The more people who are trained and trained correctly in our industry, the better off we are,” he says.
Most recently, Ulmer’s has acquired a fully equipped van that will make calibration house calls starting as soon as next week.
“We will focus on pre- and post-scans, dynamic calibration, and we will do module programming, wire harness repairs, electrical diagnosis, you name it,” says Kauffeld.
In an increasingly-complex industry, it is important to stay on top of trends, but also important to rely on those around you, Kauffeld says. Ulmer’s Auto Care hopes to lead by example by creating a space for everyone to learn and have access to the same materials while also implementing the safest practices for drivers on the road today.
Clarification: The ADAS Calibration Center of Cincinnati is owned by Ulmer's but operates as a standalone business set up to serve repair facilities.