Wednesday, 06 February 2013 17:07

CAA Meeting Showcases Toyota’s ‘Predictive Estimating” Tool

The first California Autobody Association meeting of 2013 for the Pasadena/Glendale/Foothill chapter met at Brookside Country Club in Pasadena on Jan. 30.

Chapter president Linda Holcomb was unable to attend, but Lillian Maimone from Marcos Auto Body presided in her place. The relatively short meeting was sponsored by Joe Carrier of Auto Equipment Solutions, and Eric Eberhart with G&K Services. G&K Services provides uniforms for 170,000 businesses and has operated since 1902. The meeting also included a brief introduction by Anthony Guinn from WIN Auto. He is heading up the new Los Angeles CAA chapter. Their first meeting will be February 21 at the Carson Holiday Inn, and a special meeting is set for April 21 at the Toyota Museum in Torrance.

 

Although the meeting room was only supposed to hold up to 100 people, 118 actually showed up. There was enormous interest in Toyota’s new Auto Parts Bridge. It is an electronic parts catalog that integrates with an estimating system to provide exact parts prices, taken from manufacturer’s bill data, and includes technical service bulletin information. Although Rick Leos, Toyota Body and Collision Business Development Consultant, did the actual presentation, he was supported by Ruben de Loera, Scott Nunez, and Terry Banks, who is a Dealer Operations Consultant.

Leos showed, on screen, a prototype predictive estimate with parts line items provided for the estimate. Because of the completeness of the database, even little parts generally not available in estimating systems, will appear complete with exact prices. Where aftermarket parts have been entered, the system will display the OEM parts for comparison. With this Auto Parts Bridge (APB) being used, he said, it’s impossible to make a parts price error. This could eliminate most supplements except judgement time and missed damage.

More than just parts, however, a simple click would display all of the steps needed to install the part and any technical issues that would have to be addressed. There will always be an indication if there is a requirement for “don’t repair, replace only.” The system will indicate a “one-time use” part to avoid compromising safety. Some notations could save a shop a significant sum. For example, he mentioned a ground bracket on a fender which, if removed, could damage a wire harness that would cost $4500 to replace. Adjuster disputes over procedures could be eliminated because the procedures required will always be indicated, like color sand and buff, use seam sealer and more. A 3-M tie-in provides specific information.

No labor times are included in the package because no time studies will be done and warranty times are too incomplete. The package will be integrated with one of the three main estimating information providers, but no decision has yet been made on which of the three providers will be selected. Various shop personnel in the audience wondered why only one provider would have this product and whether or not it would make the other two providers irrelevant. The real power of this product lies in the fact that it doesn’t apply to Toyota only. The product provides templates for other automobile manufacturers to plug in their prices. When a vehicle’s VIN is entered in an estimate, the APB brings in the exact parts prices for that vehicle. This feature could conceivably put the competing information providers out of business.

The product is not yet on the market. Thirteen pilot stores are doing the blueprinting. While the product is being used, missing or needed information can be added, continually making the product more complete. Leos stated that this Auto Parts Bridge will create a new industry standard.