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Is Your Mechanical Repair Shop Ready for ADAS?

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Dec. 4, 2020—Following up on yesterday's story about why one mechanical shop owner invested big in ADAS, take another look at what operators in that sector need to consider while thinking about that kind if repair.

As many collision operators have found out, there's much more than just buying equipment.

 

Figure out the vehicles you want to service. 

“It’s really expensive if you want to do everything,” Kirk Holland, owner of Gladney Automotive Solutions in College Station, Texas and co-chair of NASTF’s service technology team, says of the investment in ADAS work. 

Working on all makes and models is the most expensive, obviously. This is the route that Holland takes because he sees the need for it. Holland says that another route that shops can take is to just do domestic or European, but that decision needs to be based on the shop’s clientele. 

For example, a shop that doesn’t see many European vehicles shouldn't invest in that subscription, even if it’s more cost effective up front, because the return on investment will not be there. This may be true for many—it seems domestic specialty shops are less popular than import shops, according to the 2019 Ratchet+Wrench Industry Survey data. None of the respondents reported being a domestic specialty shop, 10 percent were import specialty and the majority and 78 percent were general repair. This may indicate that the majority of shops will have to make a more substantial investment to cover the import vehicles or shell out more money to cover a wider range. 

The subscriptions vary, some are more expensive than others. Holland says that markets are so different, so there’s not a clear cut answer for what shops should invest in as far as vehicles. 

If a shop owner isn't willing to sit down and look at vehicle demographics, they're not the right person for ADAS, Holland says. 

 

Assess Your Space 

Jack Perea, owner of Superior Replacement in Riverside, Calif., had to move facilities to perform the amount of ADAS work that he wanted to do, and even after that, he decided to open a new facility so he could perform what he felt like what his actual capacity. 

 

Look at square footage. 

Perea’s original location limited the amount of ADAS work that he was able to do, so he moved his entire operations, which added an additional 12,000 square feet. His original 2,300-square-foot building left him struggling for space. This could be the case for many shop owners. Almost half (48 percent) of the Ratchet+Wrench Industry Survey respondents have shops that are less than 5,000 square feet. 

ADAS calibrations require a significant amount of room, roughly 30 feet wide by 40 feet deep, Perea says. Briggs says that the amount varies based on make and model, but a good rule of thumb is two bays in length and width are required. 

 

Take into account other requirements. 

Space isn’t the only demand that comes with ADAS. Read up on calibrations and see what the procedure requires and anything that your current space may not be able to provide.

For example, in order to properly perform the calibrations, level floors are a must, as is proper lighting, Perea says. Briggs says, if, for example, windows are behind the target or there are lights casting shadows, that can affect how a forward-facing camera calibrates. One way to get around this is to put up lighting curtains that provide a neutral background, Briggs adds. Another way to keep the glare away is to keep lights up high, a technique Perea uses. 

Note: This story originally ran in Ratchet+Wrench magazine under the headline "The Age of ADAS."

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