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September 2018

Workshop 4.0; “connected” equipment to gather and process modern vehicle data

Massimo Brunamonti

Smart vehicles need smart garages. Investing in the internet of things will guarantee greater productivity, speed and safety. Modern auto-repairers must make the most of their own IT system optimizing cloud access.
With the Autopromotec 2018 Conference now behind us, we have the opportunity to ruminate over the countless ideas highlighted by the wide number of speakers we all had the pleasure of listening to. The industry’s changing scenario, anticipated by more or less everyone, is a great cause of concern for many, yet at the same time one cannot help being curious about the changes it will bring along with a growing awareness that it is precisely this change that will generate the needed dynamics for those who, through new ideas and courage, will be able to exploit its potential.
Several talks dealt with connected vehicles, autonomous driving, artificial intelligence and how these will impact the auto-repair sector; a further theme that received some attention but that needs further consideration relates to the future of garage equipment.
How do garage equipment manufacturers fit in all this? After-sales technical assistance will be increasingly based on a variety of information, starting from vehicle data, Obd codes, the type of spare parts or consumables, not to mention customer data "the real object of desire". But the question is, how can such equipment use and manage all that information? Paper based technical books are now a distant memory; nowadays technical data “fly” from cloud to cloud: it is all about being able to access and use them wherever and whenever needed, i.e. in every section of the  workshop during maintenance and repair jobs: from the office, to the spare parts warehouse down to each individual piece of equipment.
Imagine being in a garage that receives, through a social network or an app a request for a service, maintenance or repair job. The customer will not need to do anything more than confirm in his agenda the day and time of the appointment which, in the meantime, will have been arranged by his trusted mechanic, as an automatic response. What happens at this point in the workshop? The reservation management software issues a job card for that customer on that day and hour, assigning also all the necessary equipment. Upon arrival the vehicle is led directly to the reserved workstations after the computer accesses the cloud to download all the vehicle’s technical data.
At this point, the equipment, the workshop as well as the vehicle are all connected. The magic words that perfectly describe this scenario is "Internet of Things" (IoT), with each piece of equipment becoming precisely one of the “Things”. Manufacturers are perfectly aware of this, to the point that work is currently underway on defining protocols and data Exchange networks within the workshop with the purpose of making each item “connected”, promoting productivity and quality of service using its own IT system, and optimizing cloud access.

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