When car dealers from Bangor to Beverly Hills weren’t attending shows such as Beach Blanket Babylon, attending posh parties aboard yachts on the bay and enjoying cracked crab and sourdough bread, they were walking trade show floors that seemed to never end. During these three days packed with activity, Chief and Elektron were right in the middle of it all, with a very prominent, double-sized booth located in the Moscone Center’s South Hall.
OEM & Strategic Account Manager Richard Perry of Chief Automotive Technologies was excited about showing all of his company’s equipment and other products to GMs of dealerships, collision center managers and existing dealerships looking to add collision repair departments to their locations. “With roughly 34,000 car dealerships in the U.S., the independent shops do the majority of the work, but the collision centers still make up a segment of the industry that we obviously want to serve in a big way. Here at the NADA Expo, we’re meeting with dealers who want to upgrade their equipment in order to meet the new standards and requirements of modern vehicles.”
Perry believes that his company is in the right place at the right time as the collision industry enters the Aluminum Age and looks to incorporate new materials and the new repair techniques that will accompany them. “Aluminum is here and no one can deny that,” he said. “Aluminum and things like nano steel aregoing to be more and more prevalent in new vehicles, both domestic and European, so tooling, welding and mapping is obviously going to change as the industry evolves. It is all happening fast and we’re working hard to stay ahead of the changes, which is why we’re constantly developing new products.”
New Elektron products featured at the NADA Expo included the MULTISPOT™ MI-100control T inverter spot welder with TrueAutoMode™, the first fully automatic spot welding system. TrueAutoMode automates the welding process to provide OEM-approved spot welds every time. It automatically identifies the material’s composition and thickness, interference factors, resistance, and which electrodes and arms are in use, so the tech can simply position the welding gun and begin.
“TrueAutoMode automatically detects which tools are in use and makes any necessary adjustments as it welds, which saves time over other welders that force the techs to stop and program the welder each and every time they change tips,” Perry said. “With some other welders, the tech has to inputinformation which can cause errors, but with TrueAutoMode, they can just turn it on and start welding.”
Chief was on hand to also show collision center managers the measuring capabilities of its LaserLock™ Live Mapping™ system at the NADA Expo by using a vehicle raised on a two-post lift. LaserLock’s ability to measure vehicles on a two-post lift frees up the frame rack to be dedicated to repairs, according to Perry. “LaserLock’s dual monitor is another great feature, because all of the information the tech will ever need is right there, which makes him or her more efficient and productive. We introduced the LaserLock ™ Live Mapping™ system last year and techs love it, because it’s easy-to-use and highly accurate.”
In addition to a wide range of other Chief tools, the company showcased its new Structural Holding Package for frame racks. The Structural Holding Package includes more than 50 components that can be combined in a variety of ways to secure a vehicle during repair. This ensures the vehicle does not shift out of place during the sectioning of aluminum panels, and helps to better distribute pressure when pulling steel frames.
“Our package is currently designed to adapt to the new aluminum Ford F-150, and as the OEs start unveiling their new vehicles, we will do the same for them as well,” Perry explained. “Ten years ago, you could get a package and it would work on several brands, but now we need to develop vehicle-specific tools that are reliable and affordable.”
Caption #1: OEM & Strategic Account Manager Richard Perry of Chief Automotive Technologies and his team had a strong presence at this year’s NADA Expo in San Francisco, Jan. 23-25.