ADAS and Diagnostic Training is Essential
Bud Center is Manager, Automotive Technical Research and Development at I-CAR (Appleton, WI). He spends much of his time educating shops on ADAS and also helps to develop I-CAR’s continually refreshed training and curriculum.
I-CAR has always been at the forefront of keeping pace with the automotive world. Which role in the shop will be most affected by ADAS and other emerging technology?
The simple answer is every role in the collision repair shop will be affected in one way or another by ADAS technology. In the front office, as a customer service rep speaks to a client on the phone and talks through the damage on the vehicle, he or she may have to understand the systems a bit to help the customer make an educated decision on whether that car is safe to drive. In the shop, an estimator will need to identify all the systems on a vehicle, look up OEM service information and understand repair requirements on those systems so they account for all required repairs on the repair plan.
Technicians need to know things like how the system operates, which systems may be affected by the required repairs, whether the vehicle maker has a position statement on repairs to parts near sensors, and they’ll need to know about calibration requirements regardless of whether system related sensors were damaged or removed. They’ll need to understand how to confirm new or reinstalled sensors are mounted and located properly. The paint and refinishing team will need to know vehicle maker requirements for coating thickness and vehicle maker position on repairing parts near ADAS sensors. Even a wash bay technician will need to know how the systems will respond as they move vehicles around the shop.
That’s quite a lot to wrap your head around. What can shop owners and training managers do to ensure technicians have the right resources to properly repair ADAS following a collision?
I can’t say it enough—make sure you have access to the most recent vehicle maker service information. It’s also important to have standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place so all staff members understand when these repair procedures need to be accessed, where to find them, and how to communicate these service requirements to the entire repair team. Everyone involved in the repair process needs to know exactly which systems are on the vehicle and how their piece of the repair process relates to ensuring a complete, safe, and quality repair.
Some additional things shop owners need to consider are the shop requirements when calibrating ADAS. Some examples include, shop floor space, a substantial amount of space in front, alongside or behind the vehicle, may be required, non reflective surfaces, proper lighting, and a level floor. It really depends on the type of calibration you’re performing, of course, and the specific makes and models you are calibrating. Many shops sublet this work out to other companies that specialize in ADAS calibration or dealers. Shop owners can help their team by signing technicians up for I-CAR’s ADAS courses, which can be taken online, to help them build foundational knowledge on this new, evolving technology.
How has the curriculum at I-CAR adapted to advancing ADAS technology?
At I-CAR, we stay in close contact with all the vehicle makers to make sure we understand new or changing technology or repair procedures. We inform the industry through our Repairability Technical Support (RTS) team when the changes are of an immediate “need to know” nature and with Vehicle and Technology Specific Training™ (VTST), and until May 31, we're even offering free access to the RTS portal. We also stay in touch with equipment makers to keep an eye on new equipment coming to the market, what’s OEM-approved and study new technologies like sensors, cameras and software that we may see coming along with these new vehicles.
We currently have 11 ADAS-specific courses covering everything from common understandings of the systems and how they work with example videos of ADAS calibrations being performed. We offer courses that help owners/managers understand the things they need to consider when preparing for ADAS repairs, and help technicians get the education and training they need to become effective ADAS repair professionals. For example, ADAS technicians needs to understand the use of scan tools and communication networks as well as diagnostics. All of these courses are available online and are one hour or less in duration.
Are most technicians prepared for what’s coming in automotive technology?
Collision repair programs are doing a good job getting information to the students so they understand that ADAS is out there, but it’s unrealistic to think schools will have enough touch time to teach those students everything they need to become efficient and productive entry level technicians and also prepare them to be ADAS technicians. Understanding ADAS, calibrations and diagnostics require a very specialized set of skills.
I’ve met with many shop owners and current ADAS technicians. My advice when looking for your next ADAS technician is to look for traits that include a computer background, analytical thinking, enjoy research and learning, detail-oriented, and a diagnostic background. There aren’t a lot of ADAS-dedicated technicians in collision repair shops yet, but we’re getting there rapidly.
There is definitely a new breed of technician coming into the collision-repair space who will be more tech-focused. They all won’t be that way—nor do we need that—but we’ll see more tech- and diagnostic- focused technicians. And that’s good!
What’s next, and how will I-CAR respond?
I-CAR will be aggressive about staying ahead of the curve so we can help educate the industry on how to perform complete, safe, and quality repairs for the ultimate benefit of the consumer. We have to be aggressive, and I-CAR is committed to being the industry leader in training and information in the ADAS community.
Some of our ideas for new ADAS courses include trying to help technicians understand what to do when a calibration fails. Some estimate that roughly 80 percent of current calibrations go smoothly—a technician follows the vehicle maker calibration procedure and it’s fine. But sometimes it doesn’t work, and there’s not a lot of training out there about the next steps to take. We’ll help educate them on how to diagnose calibration failures and take the appropriate steps to achieve a successful calibration.
To learn more, visit i-car.com.