The Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) continues to promote the launch of its Repairability Technical Support (RTS) Portal, an extensive collection of resources available to help provide repair industry members with valuable information, technical support and repair solutions. Located at http://www.i-car.com/rts, the Portal offers real-time OEM information and announcements, collision repair articles, technical questions and answers and much, much more.
Stemming from an initial request to I-CAR from the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) and peer groups to establish an entity to address and rectify gaps in OEM repair procedures and processes, the RTS Portal aims to provide a one-stop resource of collision repair information and knowledge. As Jason Bartanen (Director, Industry Technical Relations for I-CAR) tells SCRS, the RTS Portal has been compiled to help foster greater understanding to all members of a rapidly evolving industry. “We are just trying to make sure that all the information is out there to help facilitate complete, safe, quality repairs,” he says. “A lot of this information has been available for a number of years, but we’ve brought everything over to the RTS portal so that it’s all in one spot and easily navigable. We’ve updated and refreshed some of the information with new photos and a revamped look, as well.”
Nearly every vehicle manufacturer selling vehicles in America is represented in the “OEM Information” section of the RTS Portal, containing links to manufacturer-specific repair websites, position statements, body repair manual guides, news and available training opportunities. “This is information many of the automakers have asked us to push out to the industry,” Bartanen says. “The manufacturer may be connected to their dealer network, but may not always be connected to the insurance and independent repair communities. This provides a way to bridge any information gaps. Additionally, we’ve gone ahead and recorded ourselves going into each OEM’s website to help show repairers how to find the information they’re looking for. No two websites are alike, and so it’s often difficult to find the specific information you’re seeking. We’re trying to take out the guesswork and give people the answers they need as quickly as possible.”
Repairers will also find repair solutions through the Portal’s “Ask I-CAR” feature, which allows the user to search by make, model and year to search for repair questions and answers on a particular vehicle. “If the visitors can’t find an answer to the question they have, they can either submit an inquiry online with the click of a button, or they can call our full-time on-staff technical experts,” he continues. “Inquiries are forwarded directly to the staff, and, if our experts are unable to answer the call, we have a policy of getting back to the caller in a two-hour window. We may not always have an answer in that timeframe, but we will always get back to them with an update.”
Additional features on the Portal include collision repair news updated as published industry-wide with updates announced via Twitter (@Tech_Briefs), an airbag replacement and partial part replacement search and Uniform Procedures for Collision Repair (UPCR). I-CAR is also in the process of adding a hybrid search matrix for additional information and resources on hybrid vehicle disablement, to protect collision industry professionals working on, and around, these vehicles.
As Bartanen says, an invaluable byproduct of the Portal is enhanced communication between repairers and automakers. “Our OEM link pin activity creates an interactive method of sharing information. If someone has a question we can’t find an answer to, we can reach out to the manufacturer and then post that resulting information online. Additionally, as we get feedback from our repairers, we can approach the manufacturers and ask them to approach new ideas.”
In the same vein of shared communication, the Portal has also facilitated the creation of repairability summits and industry segment advisory councils (ISACs), which feature representation and active participation from manufacturers on a variety of subjects. “We equate these summits to topic-specific focus groups,” notes Bartanen, “and they’re extremely helpful. For example, on the topic of high-strength steel, we brought in a number of experts and asked, ‘What are some of the best practices?’ We took that information and actually built a training course around it. We’re also holding OEM ISAC meetings, where our OEM contacts come in to talk about overall issues and what we can do better as a group to perform a particular process better. We have been working with industry groups like SCRS, and notify them immediately when information is presented. And they let us know when they have information they’d like us to share. It’s all about networking and interaction.
“We’re getting feedback from the industry on what gaps need to be closed; it’s a great concept, and we’ve found it to be working really, really well,” he adds. “We’re really busy and we’ve got a great team in place. We’re excited to see what the future holds, and how we can continue to collaborate to get the best information out there to the industry.”
About SCRS: Through its direct members and 44 affiliate associations, SCRS is comprised of 6,000 collision repair businesses and 58,500 specialized professionals who work with consumers and insurance companies to repair collision-damaged vehicles. Additional information about SCRS including other news releases is available at the SCRS website: www.scrs.com. You can e-mail SCRS at the following address: email@example.com.