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Smart Mobility, a new dawn for the car-repair industry

Massimo Brunamonti

The IAM 19 conference at Autopromotec will turn the spotlight on how garages will no longer focus on car repair only, but rather on regular maintenance and updating programmes.
Change is the prevailing word in the auto-repair industry, one that starts from the new mobility scenario that is already beginning to emerge. Autopromotec 2019, has always showcased the latest international trends, as well as hosting several other initiatives, and deemed it necessary to dedicate the IAM 19 (International After Market 19) conference to this specific subject. The new mobility scenario involves an epoch-making change in the relationship between ownership and use of the vehicle. Cars, which up until recently have always been considered as something to be possessed and used at will to the point of becoming a projection of their owners, have now become little more than a mobility “tool” for "millennials", on a par with the other possible alternatives to be used when having to go from A to B. The natural consequence of this is the flourishing of car sharing companies, short or long term rentals and other mobility packages.

What will the consequences be for the average workshop? Many and rather important: first of all, the gradual appearance of new types of "customers". We are talking about rentals or car-sharing fleets, with needs that are surprisingly similar to airlines: vehicles that never stop except for maintenance. Workshops, therefore will no longer centre their business around finding and fixing mechanical failures, but rather will follow a set maintenance and updating programme. What this means for the car-repair industry is quite easy to see, at least as far as new trends: first and foremost, the new customers, car-sharing and rental fleets, need coded, qualified and documented services; garages will sign contracts and provide their services by implementing procedures for which they will be held accountable and responsible. However, the driver, i.e. the person who may physically take the car to the garage even for the simplest of jobs, seasonal tire replacement for example, though no longer the one who pays for the service, will still interact with the mechanic on behalf of the company he represents. Earlier we mentioned coded, qualified and documented services: this will immediately result in new garage procedures and equipment. Planning will take the form of a tailor-made service with personnel, car parts and equipment assigned ahead of time. All this will have to be carried out by accessing online portals or clouds where procedures and technical data information can be found in real time and at the moment of need. All operations will then be documented as the workshop’s information system generates the results of the various steps taken. Connected equipment is one of the "leitmotifs" among garage equipment manufacturers. Nothing new, really, proposals and solutions have existed for some time now: MCTCNet2 in Italy and OTCLan in France, although limited only to mandatory vehicle inspections, were specifically designed to achieve the level of connectivity we are talking about. ASA network is another example, and not limited to MOT tests, through which equipment can connect to other IT devices in the area. But there is a need for more modern and updated tools; for this reason AICA, the Italian Garage Equipment Manufacturers’ Association, has financed a feasibility study for a new communication protocol, soon to be available to the entire auto repair industry.

In addition, AICA, through its working groups and within EGEA (European Garage Equipment Association), is working intensively on new garage equipment standards, such as new suspension tests, CEN safety standards for tire changers, truck brakes test benches, CEN and ISO safety standards for garage lifts and, last but not least, a collaborative initiative, together with Assogomma, with German colleagues such as ASA (Bundesverband der Hertsteller und Importeure von Automobil-Service Ausrüstungen) and WDK (Wirtschafstverband der deutschenKautschukindustrie) in a quest to simplify procedures and promote safety in run-flat and UHP tire mounting and dismounting operations. Autopromotec 2019 represents the perfect opportunity to see the changes currently sweeping through the industry as exhibitors will showcase their new, cutting-edge garage equipment, but also as the subject of various moments of debate and discussion during the fair, such as, for example, the previously mentioned IAM 19. Car repairers and the entire supply chain are aware that they are facing greater challenges compared to the past but, as usual, they will certainly be able to seize future opportunities and make good use of their visit at Autopromotec finding the solutions they have been looking for.

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