Wednesday, 24 November 2010 16:55

SEMA Week Collision Meetings Focused on Industry Standards and Estimating Systems

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Collision industry meetings held in Las Vegas in November centered around significant changes in the estimating systems, the development of formal industry standards, and related industry issues.

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The meetings were held in conjunction with the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) tradeshow in Las Vegas, a massive automotive aftermarket event that in recent years has been working to attract more exhibitors and attendees from the collision repair industry. During the previous six years, the International Autobody Congress and Exposition (NACE) was also held in Las Vegas the same week as SEMA, but NACE organizers moved that event several weeks earlier this year because of competition from SEMA.

The Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) said its first-time partnership with SEMA this year was successful and that the association will will again participate in the event next November. Although only about 125 people attended the first-ever SCRS-sponsored classes at the event, SEMA attracted about 115,000 people overall, up about 20 percent from last year. The “Paint, Body and Equipment” section of the show included more than 120 exhibiting companies, with many other companies that sell to the collision repair industry—including most of the major paint companies and many automakers—exhibiting elsewhere among the 9,000 booths and 2 million square feet of SEMA exhibit space.


SCRS also held a board meeting during the event, reporting on the association’s recent and upcoming activities. At the meeting, for example, SCRS Executive Director Aaron Schulenburg said the association is building a matrix showing which insurer direct repair programs (DRPs) require use of a specific vendor for such services as rental vehicles, estimating systems or customer service indexing. The goal, Schulenburg said, is to show that some programs are more restrictive than others in terms of vendor choice, and to show the burden and added expense such requirements can have on shops participating in multiple DRPs.

Also at the meeting, SCRS board member and industry trainer Toby Chess made a presentation on the need to recalibrate the steering angle sensor that is part of the electronic stability control system on an increasing number of new vehicles. Such systems are standard equipment on 85 percent of 2010 new vehicles, and will be required on all new vehicles as of model year 2012. The recalibration is an additional procedure that must be done after the vehicle alignment.

“It’s an added step, and there’s also no more 2-wheel alignments with these systems,” Chess said. “That won’t work.”

Chess said he has not yet seen this necessary step added to the estimating systems. He’s also concerned because even though no “trouble light” will be lit on the dash and the vehicle may handle properly under normal driving conditions even if the system is not calibrated, the electronic stability control function may not work properly in a subsequent “emergency maneuver.”

Estimating system changes discussed
At the meeting, Schulenburg also presented the association’s discussions with Audatex regarding the automated “prep raw bumper cover” feature that Audatex added and then retracted from its estimating system this fall. The change provided an automated 20 percent of the bumper refinish time (plus refinish materials) for the raw bumper prep operation. But Audatex removed the feature from the system a month after launching it, citing concerns raised by the industry.

Indeed, in October, the Automotive Service Association (ASA) announced that a majority of the members of its “Collision Operations Committee” said they felt the 20 percent formula was adequate enough to remove the issue as an ongoing point of negotiation or friction.

But Schulenburg said he voiced to Audatex SCRS members’ view that the system should only prompt the estimator when a raw bumper has been added to the estimate, allowing the estimator to determine the necessary labor time to be entered.

Audatex has said it plans to restore some type of raw bumper prep prompt to the system based on input from the industry and review by its technical advisory council.

In other discussion at the meeting, Bud Center of the Database Enhancement Gateway (DEG) shared several examples of changes to the estimating systems that have resulted based on DEG inquiries. The DEG, developed and supported primarily by three national repairer associations, allows users to submit concerns via website ( about the accuracy of any of the Big Three estimating databases and systems.

Center said one such inquiry, No. 2839, submitted in late October, raised a concern about data in the Motor Information Systems’ database (used by the CCC Information Services estimating system) related to the replacement of rear floor pan on the 2006 Toyota Rav4. The inquiry indicated that this procedure requires the purchase and welding of five brackets and cross-members. The need for these parts isn’t indicated in the system, the inquiry points out, and no labor time is listed in the system for the parts.

Within three days, Center said, Motor had responded by adding labor times of 1.5 hours for the seat cross-member and 1.3 hours for the rear reinforcement, and doubling the labor time for the third-row seat cross-member to 2 hours.

“That’s almost four additional labor hours,” Center said. “And this was on a 2006 vehicle. I’m curious how many of those we’ve repaired in the last four years. It’s a big change.”
Next step on standards

In another meeting held during SEMA week, the effort to develop formalized industry standards for collision shops and repairs took another step forward with the formation of a committee to hire and fund a short-term consultant to oversee the next stage of the process.

About 30 people attended a half-day meeting organized by the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) “Repair Standards Committee.” Attendees discussed the committee’s efforts on the project to date, and discussed the pros and cons of developing formalized industry standards.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the group formed a planning group that will work to hire a temporary project manager to develop a plan, timeline and budget for completion of formalized standards and for the creation or designation of an entity to oversee and implement adoption of the standards within the industry.

“We’re building that broad industry consensus to take this massive amount of work the CIC committee has done, and the massive amount of work that still needs to be done, and give it the right structure and put it into perspective for everybody to be able to use,” said Scott Biggs, who helped chair the meeting.

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