BMW factory trainer Shaun Hart, assisted by Tom Brizuela, delivered the main presentation of the evening, complete with frame machine, parts and tools as part of the demonstration of how to repair or replace an aluminum frame rail on 5 and 6 series BMWs.
Emphasis was placed on the necessity of having separate tools and work space to complete repairs on aluminum components. He also pointed out functions of certain screws and rivets that one could not possibly know about without benefit of the two-day detailed training course on repairing specific vehicles. Attendees were given handouts to enhance the experience. Hart explained how BMW was working to facilitate these repairs by having part numbers on every individual item needed, from screws and rivets to adhesive products.
I-CAR employs technology
Organized by Toby Chess, the I-CAR event was held at the Sheraton Cerritos Hotel. South Pacific I-CAR Regional Manager Lorene Lombardi, recently honored as one of Akzo Nobel's Most Influential Women of 2004, spoke briefly about I-CAR's on-going efforts to maximize the use of technology in delivering courses:
I-CAR now offers online registration for classes and email notification of schedules. Furthermore, classes can now be delivered through WebEx to a remote classroom at the convenience of shop owners and trainees. There are two full-time instructors available to offer classes during the day where technicians are already gathered and in work mode. She also noted that five new welding testing sites will be opening in California over the next two months.
Steve Marks, I-CAR industry support manager, delivered a presentation on future trends in the collision repair industry. Marks pointed out the use of newer technologies such as fiber optics - used to connect as many as 60 onboard computers in cars such as the 2004 Audi A-8 - which help reduce the weight of vehicles.
Bringing adjusters up to speed
Claims personnel from most of the major insurance companies comprised a large part of the attendees. Steve Kenyon, California property damage trainer for Progressive Insurance, took copious notes throughout the presentation. He pointed out that "changes in the industry happen in the blink of an eye and it is necessary for us to stay up with the technology. By understanding the process, I have a better handle on authorizing the right repairs when these vehicles present themselves."
Let's do it again
Speaking to the success of the event, Chess suggested that the size of the audience speaks for itself. "Look at this gathering. Over 300 people coming to this seminar in the evening, after work, tells you people want the training. We don't do enough of it. A number of people thanked me and expressed the desire to repeat the experience. Every facet of the industry needs background on new procedures. And for the insurance people in attendance, it helps them realize that each aspect of a new type of repair must be included in the estimate. Many of the different techniques can not be attributed simply to overhead; they need to be paid for and educating the insurance adjusters helps facilitate proper repairs."
In addition to the body shops that contributed to the cost of the event, the following industry suppliers provided major funding: Enterprise Car Rental, All Auto Parts, Harouts BMW Used Parts, Honda Foreign., LKQ Lakenor, Capital Wheel, Sunrise Auto, Imperial Radiator, Kent Industries, Recycled Parts Network, Elite Foreign Auto Parts, Auto Body Resources.