Collision repair is a segment of the transportation industry that does not get a lot of attention. Historically, there has been a lack of training, information, and support. For many similar collision repair industries, including automotive, emergency, commercial, and recreational vehicles this has been the case. Why?
Collision repair is usually an afterthought. Energy and investment is placed on developing new vehicle technology. There is a never-ending race to make vehicles lighter, stronger, safer, and more fuel efficient. Recently the term ADAS was nothing more than some jumbled letters on a Scrabble game board. Today you can’t go to a trade show or read an article without being exposed to advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and electric vehicles. Another important trend in this industry; Autonomous vehicles.
While all of this technology is absolutely necessary and part of the evolution of the industry, at some point, these vehicles will need to be repaired. The industry has done a great job ensuring that technicians (mechanics) are prepared to service and maintain trucks. Keeping these vehicles on the road and operating is vital to our economy and to those that rely upon this industry to make a living. A truck sitting in a service bay is costing someone money.
Understanding that a vehicle out of service is lost revenue, more attention needs to be placed on the truck sitting in a collision repair facility awaiting parts. And what about the truck that has tens of thousands of dollars in collision damage awaiting repair from a technician that does not have any information on how to properly repair it?
As vehicles become equipped with more safety features, such as ADAS, or newer substrates that are lighter and stronger, information and training has never been more critical. In today’s collision repair facility, it’s a daily struggle to find and order parts and identify proper repair procedures. An independent collision shop could wait several days just to obtain parts prices. If you talk to insurance companies, they will tell you that the single biggest concern they have for their insureds is cycle time. Cycle time is defined as the number of days it takes for the vehicle owner to get his/her truck back on the road. For those that have had their vehicles in a collision shop, it would not be uncommon for a truck to be down for weeks. In some extreme examples it could be months.
As an industry, we need to work together to address these issues. We should be seeking solutions to reduce cycle time and put vehicles safely back on the road. We should continually be looking for solutions that ensure technicians have the knowledge and equipment needed to properly repair vehicles.
In the spring of 2017, a dedicated source of focused information for the heavy-duty collision repair industry, the HD Repair Forum, was established to address these challenges. The HD Repair Forum’s purpose is to improve the narrative for repairers, insurers, OEM’s, paint manufacturers, parts suppliers, dealers and other industry stakeholders via a website, newsletter, conference, and other information tools.
The first HD Repair conference was held in April 2018 and featured technical and management training from some of the most well-respected companies and presenters in the industry. Executives from Navistar and Peterbilt discussed their new vehicle technology and the challenges repairers will face in the future. Co-located meetings, such as AkzoNobel’s 20 Group, were held during the same week and brought in some of the best repairers from the United States and Canada. The vendor expo gave high visibility to organizations committed to serving and improving the industry.
“Our goal is simple,” states Brian Nessen, President of the HD Repair Forum. “Provide the heavy-duty collision repair industry with an avenue for obtaining information and encourage collaboration. We want to facilitate safe, proper, and efficient repairs of all vehicles, and help the industry prepare for the future.”
The HD Repair Forum provides individuals and companies an opportunity to meet others, share experiences and best practices, and gain knowledge from manufacturers, trainers, and educators. The 2019 conference was held last April and experienced a 40% attendance increase, and brought in increased support and participation from several OEM’s including Daimler Trucks North America, Volvo, Navistar, and Peterbilt.
The 2020 conference returns to Fort Worth on March 24th & 25th. Companies like Axalta Coating Systems and AkzoNobel will also be co-hosting their spring Business Council and 20-Group meetings that same week.
To stay up to date on participation opportunities as an attendee, vendor, or consultant, sign-up to receive the organization’s monthly e-newsletter here.