Delivering a uniform recalibration experience when OEM systems are so fragmented and there are numerous after market solutions has created some recalibration roadblocks. Sam Street talked to AAAA’s Stuart Charity to find out more.

While AAAA CEO Stuart Charity is a huge admirer of ADAS technology and the safety benefits it brings to motorists, he has had an aerial view of how it has impacted the ‘aftermarket’ industry including collision repairers.

“We’re seeing the regulators increasingly adopting ADAS technologies like electronic stability control and autonomous braking into Australian design rules. So, from that perspective it’s terrific. But the rollout of it and its impact is exacerbated here because we have such a diverse vehicle fleet. That impact on our industry has been less than ideal,” Charity says.

“There’s a few things underpinning this. I think there is a general a lack of understanding around ADAS systems from both a consumer perspective and to a lesser degree from an industry point of view. The knowledge of what needs to be calibrated and when is still not widespread. I don’t think there’s been enough information and training on that aspect, so people are having to make judgment calls,” Charity says. “If you get that call wrong, you return a vehicle to a customer who’s relying on that technology as a driver aid, if it doesn’t work consequences could be drastic.”

Breathe a big group sigh of frustration for the lack of standardisation from OEMs in both the systems that are on vehicles and what they are called. “There’s not a lot we can do about that - that’s business as usual for the car industry,” says Charity. “They don’t seem to be able to agree on generic standards. The muddying factor is that they’re using different terminology for what are often the same vehicle systems. This only adds to the confusion.

“What we have in Australia is also a lack of vehicle coverage. So it’s impossible to buy a brand of scan tool that covers all the cars on our roads that have ADAS systems. So you find that someone that’s either specialising in ADAS calibration or even a collision repair workshop that wants to be able to do calibration in-house, then they’re having to buy two, sometimes three different systems to get the coverage. Even then it’s trial and error. So the cost and complexity of keeping up with the vehicle car parc is massive.”

When the Government starts getting involved the waters have become even more muddied – recent legislation in New South Wales has delivered a huge blow to windscreen replacement outfits who now have to invest significant time and funds to be able to use calibration equipment.

“Government don’t understand the technology and how the industry works,” Charity says. “I’ll use the example of the New South Wales government that have now mandated that working with ADAS calibration systems is a class of repair work and under their licensing system you have to have to be certified either as a motor mechanic or an auto electrician to use ADAS calibration equipment. Very few of the automotive glaziers that need to calibrate front facing cameras are qualified mechanics or auto electricians. They are having to go and do that Certificate II training just to be able to use calibration equipment. So you’ve got a whole lot of people that are very competent at using the equipment that aren’t allowed to. Setting aside the lack of full coverage, with proper training using the equipment is straight forward and gives you a pass or fail.

“In NSW all that the legislation is doing is creating a whole lot of hurdles to accessing calibration services at a time where we need availability. We need it to be cost effective, we need insurers to understand that that’s part of the repair process and therefore it’s a cost of the repair.

“However this legislation is actually having the opposite effect; less and less people are buying the equipment because it’s too complicated or they need too much of it. Automotive glaziers aren’t able to do just the basic checks to make sure that it a camera is calibrated.

“I think it needs some leadership from government and from OEMs to really put the infrastructure in place to make sure that those calibration services are available, that they’re cost-effective and that they’re being done correctly, but we’re a long way from that at the moment.”

Setting aside the space and conditions that a recalibration system demands, Charity points out: “It would be very handy if OEMs were working more proactively with the equipment manufacturers to make sure that they’ve got the coverage of the vehicles and all that information in there so that you don’t have to buy three different machines and keep them updated just to be able to cover the car parc.”

AAAA’s Auto Innovation Centre has been working collaboratively with the regulators to try and develop testing protocols for vehicle modifications. This is to ensure that, for example, suspension modifications don’t affect integration with all the vehicle safety systems. 

Going forward these testing protocols will be available to ensure all new modification products are compliant and fully integrated with safety systems.

This article was published in the May/June 2023 Paint & Panel

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