During AASP/NJ’s 2019 NORTHEAST automotive services show, K. Michael Bradshaw of K&M Collision presented “Repairer to Repairer: Realities of Structural Repair and Tooling.”
After being introduced by Jordan Hendler, executive director of the Washington Metropolitan Auto Body Association (WMABA), Bradshaw provided a brief summary of his industry experience and explained that he grew up in the collision repair industry.
He then posed the question: “Why are proper structural repairs vital to occupant safety?”
“The goal of modern vehicle design is to absorb and direct crash energy along load paths and away from the occupant cabin,” he answered. “Inadequate or improper repairs can affect how these load paths transfer energy in a subsequent collision. It is vital that the modern-day collision repair center restores the vehicle in a manner that maintains the safety features engineered by the vehicle manufacturer. Modern-day structural repair requires advanced tooling and equipment, training, research and understanding of advanced repair materials and techniques … What’s the point of identifying something as structural if, as a body shop, you don’t treat it like structural?”
Pointing out that the industry’s knowledge and understanding has increased significantly over the past decade, Bradshaw stressed the importance of shops understanding how the decisions they make during the repair can impact safety.
“It involves a lot of research to prepare yourself to repair a vehicle and to restore a vehicle to its pre-accident condition according to OEM repair procedures,” he said.
Bradshaw defined structural components and operations as the replacement or repair of any components that are attached using welding, weld-bonding and/or rivet-bonding. Structural components can also include some bolt-on components and glass. Structural operations, in both repair and replacement situations, require the use of a universal frame bench or dedicated bench.
Citing the latest Motor Guide to Estimating, Bradshaw identified the following components as structural parts or parts that add structural integrity to a vehicle’s body: aprons/strut tower, center pillar, corner pillar, front rail, hinge pillar, lock pillar, radiator core support, rear rail, rear strut tower, rocker panel, suspension cross member, upper rail, cowl assemblies, dash panel, engine cradle (bolt-on), floor panel, impact bar (bolt-on), perimeter frame, quarter panel, radiator core support (bolt-on), rear body panel, roof panel, and stationary glass (urethane bonded).