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Telematics Will Give Vehicle Owners Full Visibility into Collision Repair Process

Telematics is going to take consumer awareness to an entirely new level – whether collision repairers like it or not.

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Josh Cable has 17 years of experience as a writer and editor for newspapers, B2B publications and marketing organizations. His areas of expertise include U.S. manufacturing, lean/Six Sigma and workplace safety and health.

Sean Guthrie, director of operations for Car Crafters in Albuquerque, N.M., talks about telematics and collision repair during an April 11 Collision Industry Conference presentation in Westminster. Colo.

Vehicles today have the capability to record hundreds of data points, from fuel consumption to driving behavior to diagnostic trouble codes.

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Through telematics technology, that data can be transmitted to a remote location – such as an OEM, an insurance company, a fleet manager or, ideally, a repair shop.

Telematics applications also hold the potential to give consumers unprecedented visibility into the repair of their collision-damaged vehicles.

“Our customers, our insureds, our claimants are going to know exactly what’s happening to their car the entire time it’s in the shop,” said Sean Guthrie, director of operations for Car Crafters in Albuquerque, N.M., during an April 11 presentation at the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) in Denver. “And if it’s not put back to pre-loss condition … the trouble codes that didn’t get reset, those sensors that weren’t plugged back in, the headlights that aren’t operating right, [the vehicle owners are] going to know that probably before our technicians even know that.”

Last year, Guthrie and other members of CIC’s Emerging Technologies Committee developed a glossary of terms for scanning and diagnostics, to help collision repairers get their arms around concepts such as the Controlled Area Network protocol, cyber fingerprint, intermittent faults, programming and zero-point calibration. But, Guthrie noted, there was something missing: telematics.

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During the April 11 CIC meeting, Guthrie unveiled the committee’s proposed definition of telematics: “the process in which data is gathered and transmitted from the vehicle to a remote destination.”

 

“This allows all data points [that] the car records to be communicated to a remote destination,” the definition continues. “ … For the collision repairer, this means the customer and the manufacturer can see exactly what is being done to their vehicle, what systems are disconnected, where the car is being driven, how long the car is sitting in one location in the shop, and countless other items.”

Showing how prevalent the technology is becoming, Guthrie displayed a list of automakers and other companies that have developed telematics systems.

“Just about every OEM is represented there,” Guthrie said. “The OEMs that aren’t represented there probably have something and we just missed it, or they’re coming out with something. … It’s just a really short list of a big and growing segment of our industry.”

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So what’s the bottom line for collision repairers and their business partners? Guthrie put it this way: “We need to get used to dealing with the fact that our mutual customers are going to be very up-to-speed on their vehicles.”

 

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