Several years ago, our CTI and WTI research and development team began an intensive search for truth with respect to Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, or ADAS. Since then there have been many assumptions made with respect to liability, tools, process and the business opportunity. Our team has been involved with no less than three pilot projects with professional customers in both the collision and mechanical space, which has garnered hundreds of calibrations, failures, successes and recognition of the critical elements of entering the business of serving motorists who own and drive an ADAS-equipped vehicle. While we continue to gather data from real calibration and ADAS failure issues, I want to take the opportunity to share with you what we know and don’t know in regards to ADAS. It is important to recognize that there are many people working on various gaps in this space that will ultimately make understanding and communicating ADAS information to your customers simpler than it is today.
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The business opportunity is enormous; OEM dealers and collision centers either don’t see the need or opportunity, or they simply don’t have the room or expertise to implement ADAS service. This opens up three potential opportunities for shop owners. First is the Mobile Technician, who is typically at the front of the line with new technologies and provides a valuable service to many of you reading this article. The challenge for them is space, and the slope of the floor they have available also presents a challenge. While not available yet, there are calibration technologies coming that can overcome a small amount of slope. Also, performing calibrations outside is really not a viable option due to the back-lighting issues when calibrating cameras and the slope of the space available. The second opportunity is a progressive shop owner that happens to have available space or recognizes the opportunity in their community and builds said space to stand up a local ADAS calibration center. In a similar vein is the third opportunity, which is a series of regional/local ADAS or technology centers that handle ADAS and other advanced technology services/issues for the local service centers. The key is the skill set of the technician and the discipline to keep them focused on ADAS so they can become proficient and profitable. Calibration setup is critical, but time consuming if you’re paying flat rate, which opens the door for potential mistakes. Technology is coming that will make setup easier and more accurate, but until then we suggest an ADAS-focused technician.
Process is the next critical element of ADAS service and calibration. For nearly 40 years I’ve been an advocate that the most important skill anyone in our industry must possess is the ability to read, and in particular, read technical materials. This is not the ability to read Dr. Seuss or Moby Dick; it is a reading strategy designed to answer the questions you have based on the problem in front of you. Today’s service information is massive in scale, but also contains a treasure trove of answers. Some will simply tell you to RTM (Read the Manual), but that in itself is nearly impossible. It requires creating and implement a technical reading strategy that allows you to find the answers to your questions quickly.
For example, say you received a Toyota Camry from a customer who recently had a quarter panel replaced. Their complaint is the blind spot monitor is not working correctly on the repaired side of the car. There are no codes; this is not uncommon as some systems code when out of calibration and others do not, while some require the sensor to be able to ‘see’ before it can code. In this case the customer had taken it to Toyota for the same issue and was told there are no codes, so it should be OK. “Just drive the vehicle so it can learn” they say. A trained tech will pull up service information with the question focused on the Blind Spot Monitor and will look for calibration steps. With a technical reading strategy, you’ll quickly find steps that are required when the sensor isn’t pointed close enough to the as-designed position, so you decide to check calibration and discover it requires a Rear Beam Axis Calibration, which means the radar sensor behind the quarter panel can’t see the target. Service information demonstrates the need to check the face of the sensor for plum. After you remove the bumper cover to get to the sensor you find it is out of plum by 17 degrees. Specification is less than two degrees; look for an article and a training module focused on implementing a Technical Reading Strategy coming soon.