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Wednesday, 24 October 2012 18:26

Glendale/Foothill CAA Chapter Previews Technology Pre-SEMA

The last chapter meeting of 2012 for the Glendale/Foothill Chapter of the California Autobody Association was held as usual at the Brookside Country Club in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA.

The meeting was called-to-order by President Linda Holcomb. She announced the two speakers for the meeting: Tom Gattuso, who heads up the SEMA Trade Show, and Toby Chess who spoke on ‘Where our Industry is going.’ Sponsors for the meeting were Gyant Compliance and D’Angelo’s Business Group.

Tom Gattuso is the trade show director for SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association, held annually in Las Vegas. This year, the show is being held Oct. 30 – Nov. 2. SEMA attracts well over 60,000 attendees. It is the largest event of its kind in the world, covering nearly one million square feet of convention floor space! Tom noted that SEMA started in 1963, when toy manufacturers of the various mini-hot rod and related toy vehicles sought to consolidate the many sticker types from hot-rod groups around the country into one consolidated set of stickers. As technology grew more complex, the various groups saw a need for an umbrella organization. The first organized SEMA Show took place under the bleachers at Dodger Stadium. Tom said it was little more than some card tables and conversations between buyers and sellers. At the end of his talk, he said that the show is still mainly a conversation between buyers and sellers.

Since both CIC and SCRS voted again to support and sponsor SEMA, rather than NACE, which will be exhibiting in New Orleans instead of Las Vegas, the collision section of the show now includes 150 exhibitors in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. CAA will also have a booth. Both SCRS and I-Car will be providing training seminars and programs throughout the week. Tom suggested a special focus on 2,000 new products that will be exhibited at the show this year. He suggested attending the New Products Breakfast Tuesday morning, Oct. 30 at 7:30 a.m. Industry experts will serve as judges and give an Innovation Award.

Tom emphasized having a pre-show, during-the-show, and post-show plan to maximize an attendee's benefits. The website provides a complete floor plan and one can search by product, category and company. CAA chapter president Linda Holcomb suggested that no one could possibly cover the entire show in five days, so a good pre-plan is really necessary — plus a comfortable pair of shoes or rent a scooter.

During the show, a mobile app is also available this year showing housing, registration and floor plan all on one dashboard. Close attention should be paid to the 800 signs, color drapes and carpeting delineating the 12 sections of the show. Badge scanning will speed up product visitations and follow-up for a post-show review and analysis.
Tom also pointed out that there will be some spectacular fun with the show. The ‘SEMA Cruise’ will put 2,000 vehicles that were in booths during the show in a parade down Paradise Road Friday afternoon. And then there is the Global Rally Cross, racing many vehicles modified with products demonstrated at the show.

The meeting continued with Toby Chess speaking about ‘Where our industry is going in the future, and what are you going to do about it?’

He opened with the fact that average fuel economy would have to be from 27.5 to 30.7 mpg for cars by 2015, and from 23.5 to 28.6 mpg for trucks. He also noted that even the Ford F150 pickup truck would be all aluminum.

All vehicles will be smaller, lighter and safer. Vehicles will have high-strength steel that will be ‘replace only’ and cannot be repaired. All vehicles will have Electronic Stability Control and steering angle sensors that will monitor the number of revolutions during the speed of a turn. If the turn is too fast, there will be an automatic computer correction. This will require recalibration during every wheel alignment.

All of this means that every shop will have to have the tools, equipment and training to work on these new vehicles. These jobs will require longer cycle times and far more attention to small details.

Now is the time to be prepared for all aluminum repairs. The latest scan tools are a must. No shop that hopes to survive in this future can afford to wait to get ready. That future is arriving faster than most shop owners realize.

Toby finished with an introduction to the Matrix Measuring System.

From a layman’s point of view, this is a brilliant use of cameras and minute measuring technology to capture an exact picture of any differentiation in vehicle structure, from side to side and bottom to top. Toby noted that you can only measure length and breadth with a transguage, but with the Matrix Measuring System, you can add in depth and that makes all the difference.

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