Redefining Damage Assessment for Safe Repairs
Why are we redefining damage assessment? The automobile has seen many advancements since the mass production of the Model T. Hydraulic brakes, laminated windshields, seat belts, air bags and many convenience improvements just to name a few. However, the advancements we have experienced since 2010 dwarf the previous 50 or more years combined. Up until the mid-2000’s most collision and body repair work was done using opinion guided by experience. We were looking to achieve a good fit and finish. The vehicle had to look good and drive straight, that was pretty much it. Today’s vehicles still require a good fit and finish, however a far more important aspect must be considered, SAFETY!
Safety has become the top priority of automobile manufacturers. Computer technology has made it possible to build in AI (artificial intelligence), providing many new safety features such as, blind spot detection, forward assist braking and cross traffic monitoring. Automobile manufacturer advertising constantly shows us how these technologies help us and make us safer. What the average consumer and even collision repairers may not know is that the safety technology extends to pedestrians, exterior body panels and the vehicle’s structure.
Examples of Fender Perches
GM’s Active Hood Technology
So, now the ”fit and finish” standard has become the “function, fit and finish” standard.
Air bag timing, the flow of collision energy, and the reduction of bodily injury are key functions of not only the unibody and frame, but all aspects of the vehicle’s construction. The supplemental restraint system continues to evolve to include active head restraints and smarter deployment of the seat belts and air bags. Front exterior panels are no longer fixed firmly to the vehicle’s structure, but placed on perches, allowing collision forces created from striking a pedestrian, to be absorbed by the vehicle, reducing the severity of injury to the pedestrian.
Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) are developed with the express purpose of saving lives. Forward Automatic Braking Assist and Blind spot Detection are just two systems that protect the occupants of the vehicle, and systems such as Rear Automatic Braking prevent the driver from hitting any object behind them, especially people. According to recently published data from General Motors, these three systems alone have accounted for an average 51% reduction in vehicle crashes, with the Rear Automatic Braking system accounting for an 81% reduction in backing accidents!
Most people look at the paint on an automobile as a preference and statement about themselves. As repairers, we are expected to know the function of all top coats. It’s not about how much orange peel or trash that sets in the finish, but the corrosion protection that the primers and top coats provide. As we move to more mobile vehicle autonomy, automobile top coats play a role in the communication to sensors on the roadway, buildings and other vehicles. We are living through a technological revolution and it is sometimes difficult to see the forest for the trees.
Think about this, the farrier had a secure job for centuries until the industrial revolution began and the horseless carriage gained acceptance. At that time, many of them had to learn to become mechanics or find other ways to make a living. The same is true now! Learn to repair with a safety mindset or move on.
We do not instinctively realize that what we see in person is not what is accurately captured in a photo just by pointing and clicking a camera. When you are the one taking the photo, your brain has already processed this 3D image, and when you glance at the photo you just took, your brain fills in any gaps that may be missing, leading you to think that you captured a photo that includes all the damage you saw in person.
As we provide training to collision repairers across the USA and Canada, we find there is a considerable gap in understanding how to write structural repair. Estimators have been convinced that a structural repair is different than a frame repair. We have also seen structural repairs written at the body repair labor rate…
Building a bulletproof repair file requires forethought, planning and time. There is no easy solution as each shop operates a bit differently. Many shops have never even thought about their front office operations as doing anything more than greeting customers, writing estimates and collecting payments. In fact, the office operation controls their entire business…
Collision Photography is not about writing estimates from photos, rather it is the skill of documenting damage, repair processes and repair quality with images. Taking good images that show the subject is not as simple as “point and shoot.”…