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Building a better estimating toolbox

Thursday, November 30, 2017 - 08:00
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As the amount of technology in vehicles increases, so does the likelihood of electrical component damage during an accident. It is imperative that connector and harness damage be analyzed, diagnosed, and repaired appropriately to ensure a safe and proper repair. Estimating systems are lagging behind in the area of electrical repairs. Most estimating information completely lacks wiring harness information. No estimating system has listings for connectors, repair wires, or labor times to replace these parts. Thankfully, OEMs have spent the time developing wiring diagrams that not only show wiring schematics, but also the visual routing of the harnesses, as well as, repair connectors and repair wires available for purchase. Repair connectors and wires from an OEM are often more cost effective than sourcing pigtails from aftermarket suppliers or salvage vendors. Most OEM wiring diagrams are now interactive web based diagrams.

These tools have simple, navigable layouts that are color coded and have clickable hotspots to access additional information about a component or connector. This makes identifying components, circuits and connector pin assignments much easier than in the past with black and white copies of wiring diagrams. This information can prove valuable while writing an estimate as wiring harnesses are often special order items that may be non-returnable, once opened, if they are ordered incorrectly. When OEM wiring diagrams are leveraged together with the use of OEM parts catalogs to retrieve accurate part numbers and prices, a complete estimate is possible. Couple this with the routing diagrams that show the layout of a factory wiring harness, and your estimator can select the appropriate items for R&I to allow a seamless installation. It is with this information that an estimator can properly assess damage to the electrical systems of a vehicle and make the proper repair versus replace decisions. 

The use of OEM repair information is no longer optional in collision repair. Learning how to effectively navigate, research and leverage different OEM tools is important to affect a safe and proper repair. Body repair manuals, parts diagrams, and wiring schematics are not standalone tools, they are complimentary tools that should be utilized together to achieve the best results. It is up to you to create a culture of learning and research within your organization and to watch it grow as people learn the value of research and discover what they didn’t know until they looked it up. Growth only happens with learning, and without learning there is no growth. Make the decision to encourage growth within your organization.

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