The Society of Collision Repair Specialists announced Monday this year’s OEM Collision Repair Technology Summit would discuss what a Texas lawsuit has made one of the hottest issues in the industry — liability for repairs not done to automaker specifications.
The segment on liability from improperly repairing new technology — both materials and electronics — will follow panels on the nature of these advances and what these elements do to “once-commonplace repair procedures,” the trade group announced.
“This year’s three sessions will address the impact that automotive research has on vehicle construction and functionality, the impact that construction and functionality has on performing once-commonplace repair procedures, and the impact that those OEM procedures – or failure to implement them – have on liability and safety,” SCRS wrote in a news release.
2017’s OEM Collision Repair Technology Summit will be held Thursday, Nov. 2, during the SEMA Show in Las Vegas.
The potential for shop — and technician — liability arose in July, when Dallas-based attorney Todd Tracy announced the latest version of a more than $1 million lawsuit against Dallas-based John Eagle Collision Center, alleging that the shop’s failure to follow OEM roof replacement procedures led to his clients Matthew and Marcia Seebachan being trapped in a burning 2010 Honda Fit. Tracy typically sues OEMs for alleged product defects, but he’s considering more litigation against other shops.
“As current litigation exposes flaws in the rationale for deviating from OEM repair procedures, there isn’t a more critical discussion to participate in for today’s collision repair operator,” SCRS wrote of the liability panel, which will be held from 3-5 p.m. Nov. 2.
Ellis & Associates managing director John Ellis will moderate “The Hidden Dangers of Vehicle Technology, Improper Repair Methodology and Your Liabilities,” a discussion between “litigators, technology experts, and those with experience in facing liability and safety implications with performing repairs in today’s environment,” according to SCRS.
“Those operating within the collision repair industry find themselves in tumultuous times,” SCRS wrote. “While the functional and structural technologies in modern-day vehicles are evolving at a breakneck pace (and expected to evolve even faster on our way to autonomous vehicles), the collision repair industry faces a growing gap in skilled workers, and continual downward pressure to mitigate repair expenses and operations performed. In an industry culture that seemingly rewards those who charge the least, rather than those who perform the best, it is an increasing challenge for businesses committed to repairs that are fully compliant with OEM methodologies. In 2017 the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) reaffirmed its longstanding position that ‘if an OEM documents a repair procedure as required, recommended or otherwise necessary as a result of damage or repair, that those published procedures would be the standard of repair until such time the documentation changes. Disregarding a documented procedure that is made available to the industry creates undue and avoidable liability on the repair facility performing the repair.'”
Besides a shop’s bottom line, there’s customer safety to consider. Honda in 2015 offered another stark demonstration of how failure to follow procedures and restrictions on ultra-high-strength steel led to an Acura MDX failing to behave as it should in a narrow-offset collision. Other anecdotes from I-CAR, Collision Advice, and P&L Consultants show how failure to properly calibrate safety technology could be disastrous.
Even a shop committed to following OEM repair procedures might find themselves getting tripped up on one item or another. Changes in vehicle joining and substrates might leave a shop scrambling to buy expensive equipment, and even seemingly mundane items like disconnecting a battery, aligning a wheel or replacing a radiator core support can have unexpected complexity. And just when you’ve got everything down pat, the OEMs or regulators change the technology again.
For these reasons, shops shouldn’t miss the first two panels of the summit either.
At 9 a.m., SEMA’s own vehicle technology Vice President John Waraniak will moderate “How Automotive Research is Driving Change in Vehicle Design, Technology and Function,” featuring a discussion on “the research going on today that has the potential to reshape how you repair vehicles tomorrow,” according to SCRS.
“The automotive industry has proven to be a ripe landscape for revolutionary technology intended to address everything from autonomy and connectivity to structural developments for advanced vehicle light weighting,” SCRS wrote. “These technological advancements rely heavily on innovative research for developing and testing complex solutions to be deployed to the motoring public. This research often stems from collaborations between automakers, in the aftermarket, and through educational institutions; all looking to advance safe, efficient and groundbreaking transportation solutions.”
At 11 a.m., Hunter Engineering senior product manager Kaleb Silver will examine “the impact of advanced systems on routine services such as wheel alignments” during “The Impact of Advanced Vehicle Systems on Routine Repair Process and Procedure” building off lessons he delivered to the industry earlier this year. There’ll be a panel as well.
“New technology is rapidly advancing on vehicles today, and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) are becoming increasingly more popular on new vehicles and can have significant effect on how you perform previously routine services in your collision repair facility,” SCRS wrote. “While those on the road benefit from ADAS, the repair industry must change how they approach traditional services as many OEMs require additional procedures, calibrations and tools to ensure restoration of vehicle functionality.”
SCRS began hosting OEM Summits four years ago to put repairers and others “in a room with innovators in automotive structural design and technology that can create context around sophisticated advancements in vehicles and emerging technology, and the impact it will have specifically on collision repair businesses,” and you’ll want to take advantage of that opportunity.
The sessions are part of the SCRS Repairer Driven Education Series Oct. 30-Nov. 4. Register here for the individual classes or the series pass package deal, which includes the entire week of classes, all three parts of the OEM Summit and the Nov. 2 Sky Villa afterparty.
Space for the OEM Summit is limited, and early registration is encouraged.
Society of Collision Repair Specialists, Aug. 28, 2017
Featured image: The Society of Collision Repair Specialists’ 2016 SEMA booth hypes the OEM Collision Repair Technology Summit. (John Huetter/Repairer Driven News)