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Bench vs. rack: Finding the right equipment for modern collision repair

Tuesday, April 30, 2019 - 07:00
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The way we repair vehicles has changed. Automobile manufacturers have reduced vehicle weight by switching from traditional steel to aluminum and high-strength steels, introduced new technologies like advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), and are continually updating and improving repair standards.

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In order to better diagnose, develop and execute a proper repair plan once a car is damaged in a collision, a technician needs to be able to understand not only how the collision affected the point of impact, but also how the collision energy transferred throughout the vehicle.

It’s now more important than ever for shop owners and their technicians to understand the structural design and construction of the vehicles they’re repairing. When repairing a vehicle, shop owners need to ensure not only that they have the necessary collision repair equipment to do the work, but also that their technicians have the proper training to make the repairs and understand OEM repair standards.

A frame rack holds the vehicle into place on a deck with the repair done by making pulls in various directions to bring the entire structure back into OEM specifications.

So, what equipment should shop owners consider when it comes to modern collision repair? While technicians in the United States have typically been trained on and are more familiar with frame racks, bench systems are growing in popularity as the automotive manufacturing industry changes.

Frame rack vs. bench: What’s the difference?
When considering whether a frame rack or bench is better than the other, it’s best to understand the difference between the two.

Benches hold a vehicle in alignment and allow parts and pieces of the vehicle to be positioned within the alignment of the bench. With a bench, the vehicle is set up in holding points that become specific measuring reference points. These points allow the technician to then make incremental adjustments in small areas to bring damaged pieces back to specifications. A bench can have measurement scales running down the platform and along the crossbeams to reference all repairs or dedicated fixtures that are vehicle-specific.

Frame racks hold vehicles into place on a deck, and then the repair is done by making pulls in various directions to bring the entire structure back into OEM specifications. This technique can help apply the same amount of pressure across multiple points of the damaged area at the exact same time and can help to prevent further damage to the vehicle structure.

Structural holding and anchoring
Another important factor in vehicle repair is holding the vehicles correctly. Today’s vehicles are manufactured with many different types of materials, such as high-strength or ultra-high-strength steel or aluminum and/or other lightweight materials, and may require a different repair approach when it comes to holding and anchoring the vehicle. In most cases, the days of holding only four points in the center of the vehicle are gone. Today, six, eight or more holding points are required regardless of whether repairs are being done on a bench or a frame rack.

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