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June 7, 2018

The digitalisation of the garage

At forty years old –  the average age of a mechanic in the UK – a vehicle is considered to be a ‘classic’. Back then, vehicles were simpler; we tended to fix parts like starter motors and alternators which we now replace – we also used to top up batteries which are now sealed. And until now, vehicle technology has evolved at a relatively steady pace. The vehicles we service and repair today are increasingly advanced and the next generation of vehicles to appear in professional workshops will reflect sci-fi technology that most of us thought would never exist in our lifetimes. Many workshop owners, managers, and technicians fear that this rapid rate of vehicle evolution will be detrimental for workshops, when they should be looking forward to the new opportunities new technology brings.

No so long ago mechanics worked on adjusting points, HT leads, distributors, tuning/balancing carbs, perished cooling hoses, etc. Outside of classic vehicle specialists, few professionals work on the same type of service and repair operations as they did 20, even 10 years ago. Although some of the operations may remain the same, more modern and sustainable systems will replace most.

There are many actions the average workshop can take to make the most of the evolution of vehicles and to align their workshops to the level of technology in today’s and tomorrow’s vehicles.

First and foremost – training. With an objective training plan that covers new and emerging vehicle technology, workshops can become more competitive and sustainable. Fully prepared workshops that communicate effectively are more likely to build profitable relationships with customers that will be confident about the workshop’s skills and services.

Embracing new tools is also key. Whether it be a digital torque wrench or using mobile devices to search for technical data; new technology can increase efficiency in workshops, enabling technicians to service and repair more vehicles per day, thereby increasing the workshop’s revenue.

Autodata is the UK’s leading automotive technical information provider, supplying service and repair data to 90% of UK workshops. Its workshop application supports all major smart/mobile devices, which means technicians can improve their efficiency by accessing information on the spot with their phone or tablet, rather than taking valuable time going back and forth from a desktop computer. This is just one example of the small things workshops can do to increase efficiency.

Tom Endean, Global Head of Marketing at Autodata, said: “the competition between independent workshops and OEM workshops will continue to grow. However, vehicle manufacturers don’t have the resources (workshop location and workforce) required to look after the millions of vehicles on the road.”

He continued, ”Aftermarket businesses like Autodata and industry associations like the ADPA are working to ensure that independent workshops will be able to access the information necessary to effectively service and repair connected and autonomous vehicles. It’s up to workshops to ensure that they have the skills and the tools required to professionally service and repair all types of vehicles on the road.”

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