Change happens. It happens all around us on a continuous basis every day. And when changes occur in the workplace, it can be challenging and sometimes, unnerving. In the automotive body shop industry, changes in vehicle models by the OEMs necessitate changes in how those vehicles are repaired. Repair products must also change to keep up with OEM manufacturing techniques and repair requirements.
So how does a body shop technician keep up with all the changes and new repair techniques and products? The answer is training. And I’m not talking about just taking a training course every few years. To be really knowledgeable about changes in the industry, it’s important to make training a continual work experience. Training is available from many sources such as I-CAR (the Inter-industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair); OEM training centers; equipment suppliers; refinish manufacturers, repair product suppliers and third-party consulting and training companies, such as ABRN Contributing Technical Editor Larry Montanez’s P&L Consultants or former columnist Mike Anderson’s Collision Advice.
Among the advanced changes in vehicle design, OEMs are using different types of materials in car manufacture. From high-strength steels to aluminum to composites, different materials require different repair techniques. Many of these material changes are occurring as manufacturers attempt to make vehicles lighter, more efficient and safer to meet government regulations and consumer demands.
|Industry-recognized training programs, such as welding, rivet bonding and MIG brazing, are available from I-CAR.|
There are also changes being made to the adhesives that are used to build the vehicles. Vehicle manufacturing has advanced from not using any adhesives to the use of structural adhesives and recently, the introduction of crash-durable (impact-toughened) adhesives. Accordingly, the repair technician must also learn how to use crash-durable adhesives to return a damaged vehicle to its “as new” condition.