AirPro Diagnostics Helps Every Shop Repair All 550 of Today’s Vehicle Models 

AirPro Diagnostics founder and CEO Lonnie Margol, left, and President Michael Quinn, right.

I am amazed at all the new features in today’s vehicles, these rolling computer networks with lines of code numbering in the hundreds of millions, and often wonder how successfully shops are servicing these complex systems.

I found the answer in the recent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) report, which revealed more than half of surveyed owners of ADAS-equipped vehicles reported problems with those features after a repair, more so if it was due to collision damage or a windshield replacement.

I set out to find the cause and possible solutions, leading me to sit down with AirPro Diagnostics founder and CEO Lonnie Margol and President Michael Quinn to get their thoughts on this big problem.

It comes down to two simple words: “brand specialists.” AirPro employs dealer-trained brand specialists, then trains them on collision dynamics and has them focus specifically on the vehicle brands they specialize in.

Margol is no stranger to solving these complex problems; his credits include being awarded the first patent in 2010 for inventing asTech.

Why are shops struggling with these systems?

LM: We believe it is an unreasonable expectation that shops can safely service these complex networks and safety systems unique to each brand. A scan tool is only as good as the technician using it. Unless shops have the volume and financing to hire specialists to cover 45 brands, the safe solution is having AirPro lend its brand specialists to your shop on-demand.

How does AirPro get the right person on the right job?

MQ: First I think we all need to be honest with ourselves---this includes insurers---that shops have their hands full with multiple surfaces, joining methods and refinish challenges, let alone servicing electronics and safety systems. Pooling brand specialists for the benefit of the industry at large is a practical solution.

Only AirPro has skills-based routing, so when a shop makes a request for service it is automatically routed to a brand specialist. Further, we can have multiple technicians log into the same vehicle and collaborate when the repair may need elevated support.

We have a 97.7% success rate in all services requested. We take pride in staying with the shop and getting the car completed safely. This saves on untold cycle time and higher sublet expense.

How complex are these systems?

LM: Right now, the industry as a whole can't bridge this huge gap created by rapidly advancing technology, especially with so many of these very sophisticated systems and not enough knowledgeable skilled technicians to know how to perform diagnostics and the calibrations. There are so many nuances in these various different model vehicles, even by brand, that it really needs the attention of technicians who are doing this on a daily basis.

When did you start AirPro Diagnostics?

LM: I started AirPro Diagnostics back in April 2016 and launched a totally different tool approach. The AirPro tool utilizes OEM-licensed software and multi-brand diagnostic applications resident and directly connected to the vehicle. In other words, the software and hardware are all connected at the vehicle, which is very different than the other remote providers.

They use the streaming method, which I invented, but it wasn't designed for doing these types of sophisticated calibrations and other services back and forth across the internet.

How does AirPro help shops perform ADAS calibrations in-house?

MQ: We equip, train and coach shops to properly service and calibrate the vehicle brands they work on, whether it be blind spot, front radar or forward -facing camera recalibrations. We walk them through set-up procedures on each and every vehicle model, referencing the OEM service information. We have very cost-effective pricing strategies and pride ourselves on building custom tailored pricing solutions for shops.

How do shops know AirPro techs are up on the newest technology?

LM: Most of our brand specialists come out of dealerships and have been trained on how to diagnose crash events. This is much different than simply pulling codes. And because AirPro brand specialists are diagnosing and calibrating mostly late model collision-damaged vehicles every day, we believe they possess greater skills than someone doing warranty work or servicing fuel injection systems. They do multiple calibrations every day to where it becomes second nature.

We take 40,000 calls every month and from all of the requests we get, we have been successful in servicing 97.7% of them across all manufacturers. We also have a 10-minute response pledge, and we guard that very closely because we know when the shops need service, they need it right away. We did almost half a million services last year and our on-tool response time was one minute and 32 seconds on average.

MQ: I’ll reiterate, in case we do run into an anomaly with a particular vehicle, we can bring other technicians in to assist in and actually figure it out as a team, another reason for our high success rate of 97.7%. Because we stick with the vehicle for even the most difficult issues. We're there to help the shop, repair the vehicle. We're not there just to pull a code or claim a calibration was done and then send it on. We make sure to solve the problem quickly and precisely.

It’s not a good idea for shops to purchase equipment to do their ADAS themselves?

LM: We have had hundreds of shops tell us they purchased all the equipment and they don’t have the expertise on a given brand so they engage us. As mentioned earlier we can equip, train and assist shops to cost-effectively perform ADAS calibrations. It doesn’t make sense for shops to have tools and software for makes they don’t repair. We custom-tailor equipment solutions based on the shop’s historical workload.

Do you document every service as well, for purposes of accountability and transparency?

MQ: Yes, we record each and every screen session during the service, whether it's a scan, diagnostics or calibrations. We store all this in the cloud, if anyone ever questions what was performed, what version of the OE software was used, it’s available to our shops.

Have you been able to trim cycle time for your customers?

MQ: Absolutely. If you've been following industry reports, national average cycle time has almost doubled to almost 20 days. There are certainly some supply chain issues, but the acceleration of technology and the limited skills of shop technicians is contributing to cycle in a significant way. We have techs with 25-30 years’ experience on one brand. These types of specialists are not growing on trees. Shops can go it alone or utilize our remote services. AirPro shops enjoy on average two days less cycle time when pre-/post-scanning every vehicle.

The question is, do you have the ability to serve 45 brands and 550 models, which we are able to do? And when technology advances---which it does every year---how do you get the training? And then what do you do if you have a guy who is highly skilled and he quits, goes on vacation or is out sick? What do you do? Your whole operation can grind to a halt.

Ed Attanasio

Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist and Autobody News columnist based in San Francisco.

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