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Bob Augustine, co-chairman of CIC’s Emerging Technologies Committee, said shops are increasingly needing IT expertise in-house.

The Collision Industry Conference (CIC) Emerging Technologies Committee this past fall wanted to see how easy it was for users of OEM scan tools and service information to locate training on their use.

“So I picked six big car manufacturers and said, if I was a newbie and I went to their website, in four mouse clicks or less could I find a training video or a training module on how to use their factory software,” said Bob Augustine of Opus IVS, who co-chairs the committee. At the Mopar Tech Authority site, August searched for “wiTECH,” the automaker’s diagnostic system.

“I immediately came up with at least a video for how to flash an ECU with wiTECH,” Augustine said. “So I considered that a success. If we learn how to flash with wiTECH, we’re already in the software, we’re already using it.”

General Motors’ service information site, Techline Connect, has a training page that includes an entire web-based course, Augustine said. “This is the same one the dealers use, for their entire Techline Connect suite. Very easy to find,” he said.

The Ford MotorcraftService.com website has a class specific to collision repair. “I thought this was pretty cool,” Augustine said. “Rather than a full-on training class on how to use IDS (Integrated Diagnostic System), it’s very specific to how a collision repairer would use the software. They’ve also got a module specifically on ADAS calibrations, and one on using their service information.”

Nissan’s site includes a quick link for e-learning modules, including several about using Consult-III, he said.

But Augustine was less successful finding training at the Toyota website within four clicks. His contact at Toyota first assured him the training was all there, but then checked himself and saw the link was no longer there.

“He’s actually going to go fix that,” Augustine said. “So we consider that a small victory. And I was never able to find a training module on how to use HDS or I-HDS on Honda’s website, so we’ll have that conversation as well.”

New Skillsets Needed in Shops

During the CIC committee’s presentation at the meeting Las Vegas during SEMA week, Augustine said as more collision shops recognize they need a specialized diagnostic technician as much as most mechanical shops do, another needed skillset may be overlooked.

Given the nature of accessing OEM repair information and diagnostic tools, he said, having IT expertise internally is “not only important, it’s actually necessary.” Keeping the laptops current, with the latest software versions, for example, is a necessary challenge, he said, given the OEMs “literally update their software every day.”

“So you have to factor in that maybe you haven’t used that tool in a couple weeks,” Augustine said. “The vehicle comes in, you’re going to have some delay time just getting up to the current [software] version. Because they’re going to force you to always have the latest version. So, software management skills, IT skills, security skills. And I say security not in terms of vehicle security, but IT security on laptops.

"A lot of these programs are very finicky about virus programs and browsers and things like that. And so you have to be aware that it’s not simply install the software and you’re ready to go," he continued. "A lot of times you’re going to have to have some very specific expertise. If you don’t have somebody in-house that is really skilled in IT, you’re either going to need to add that skillset or you’re going to have to have a vendor or somebody that can do this for you.”

Battery Registrations vs. Retrofitting

The committee also offered an overview of what it sees as some top scan tool functions as part of collision repair work, including battery registrations.

“BMW is one of the vendors where battery registration is super important,” Augustine said.

He noted “battery registrations” and “battery retrofitting” are two different functions in the scan tool.

“They do different things,” Augustine said. “Battery registration is when you replace the battery and you have to tell the battery management system that the battery has been replaced. I have lots of firsthand experience to show you when this is not done properly, you will almost always end up with premature battery failure because the system doesn’t know state of charge [and] lifecycle of the vehicle.

"Battery retrofitting is when you put a different amp hour battery in the vehicle," he said. "You have to tell that system essentially the capability of the battery. When you don’t do that, again you will almost always end up with premature battery failure.”

Skipping battery registration also will likely result in a charging system message in the instrument panel.

“Because most European manufacturers use a strategy called load shedding,” Augustine said. “As they determine that the battery is starting to fail, they will systematically start turning things off in the vehicle that they consider non-essential. So radios will stop working, heated seats will stop working. And if the battery management system determines that there’s still not enough battery life, they’ll continue to shut the vehicle down. And the driver will be given a message, ‘Hey, you need to take this vehicle in for service.’ So you’ll definitely get some indication on the instrument panel that there’s a charging system problem going on. You will almost always end up with premature battery failure that may not affect you when you’re working on the vehicle, but it’ll definitely affect the vehicle owner 12 months or 24 months down the road.”

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