If you’re in the automotive industry you’ll know that the complexities of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) technologies are being utilized on more and more Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) vehicles rolling off assembly lines around the globe. What does ADAS mean to drivers buying or leasing OEM vehicles? As an article published by the research and consulting firm McKinsey & Company titled “Advanced driver-assistance systems: Challenges and opportunities ahead” explains,
“Demand for advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS)—those that help with monitoring, warning, braking, and steering tasks—is expected to increase over the next decade, fuelled largely by regulatory and consumer interest in safety applications that protect drivers and reduce accidents. For instance, both the European Union and the United States are mandating that all vehicles be equipped with autonomous emergency-braking systems and forward-collision warning systems by 2020. A recent McKinsey survey also suggests that car buyers are becoming even more interested in ADAS applications that promote comfort and economy, such as those that assist with parking or monitoring blind spots.”
Another article titled “Driver Assistance System Market to Grow..” that appeared in the online Digital Journal stated,
“Increasing government regulations such as mandating usage of driver assistance systems in the vehicle and emerging high-end vehicles market in developing countries has an important quotient in the growth of driver assistance system market. In the coming years, it is expected that the driver assistance system market will advance with higher growth rate as compared to previous years. The current challenges for the market are training the professionals on the software due to its complex and expensive features. Therefore, steadily changing process of manual workflow to digital workflow, will result in long-term benefit when the advance features of driver assistance system services are implemented and would be used on regular basis by various industries.”
Consumers buying vehicles with this technology onboard, who will require aftermarket services that could alter the original calibration of ADAS technology, will need to be aware of the importance of choosing service companies that are not only knowledgeable on these safety systems, but that also have service technicians equipped and proficient on the use of all required tools to ensure that the ADAS technology works properly. It’s critical that OEM car manufacturers, companies developing ADAS technology, governments, along with a myriad of automotive aftermarket service industries work together to ensure consumers are kept safe.
One aftermarket service organization in the auto glass repair and replacement (AGRR) industry in the United Kingdom is a leader in ensuring consumer safety. That company is Nationwide Windscreen Services (NWS). NWS began in 2006 and in just over a decade they have 70+ locations that provide auto glass repair and replacements, with 500+ mobile fitting vans and 600+ staff offering a 24/7/365 call center operation and service coverage to insurance, fleet and consumers across the United Kingdom.
NWS has taken dramatic steps to ensure that the replacements they do are done properly. On August 1, 2015, NWS opened its first ADAS center in Leicester, England, and Stuart Sole, Managing Director of NWS said:
“The windscreen of the future will no longer be a piece of glass protecting occupants from the elements and offering structural support for the vehicle, safety systems are being developed with driver aids to help avoid collisions and accidents. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems technology will manage the cruise control, automotive braking, adaptive lighting, GPS, smart phone, lane departure warning cameras, collision avoidance system. This technology continues to influence vehicle design at a great pace, with more and more of these systems being introduced onto new vehicles. NWS will continue to invest in future technology within the automotive glazing industry; ensuring that the NWS customer base continues to receive a market leading product in all areas of our business.”
Since opening their first ADAS service center in 2015, NWS has invested more than £ 300,000 (US$ 380,000 prox) to ensure that NWS provides proper calibration when required on replacements that have ADAS technology. Today NWS is fully capable of providing recalibration for replacements which require this service across their platform. NWS has been awarded the Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance ISO 9001 for their processes.
I asked Philip Homer, Operations Director at Nationwide Windscreen Services, who has responsibility for developing the service delivery model at the company to answer a few questions regarding the commitment to the safety of their customers at the time of replacement and when recalibration is required:
- You’ve made a huge commitment to safety in time and treasure to ensure that you provide a complete drive-away solution when you complete a replacement for customers whose vehicles have ADAS technology. What drove you to decide to provide a solution internally versus utilizing the OEM dealer network after you replaced a glass where ADAS was involved?
Answer: A one stop solution for the driver and vehicle down time, standardised pricing throughout the United Kingdom. Assurance for fleet and insurers that the vehicle has been calibrated following a replacement.
- I’m sure that you spent a great deal of time researching the best solution for your customers. What is the name of the recalibration system that you chose and what were the main reasons you chose their equipment?
Answer: Hella Gutman – We feel their system is the most practical available at present providing a solution for static or dynamic calibration. The equipment also prints off a certificate to confirm a successful calibration.
Hella also provide training for our technicians at their facility in Banbury Oxfordshire, once completed the technician is also issued with a certificate to confirm that they have attended a training session and competent in how to use the equipment.
- Are you able to complete recalibration with the Hella Gutmann equipment that you’ve chosen on all vehicles in your marketplace?
Answer: Approximately 75% of vehicles requiring some attention can be calibrated using the equipment we use.
- Within the United Kingdom are there AGRR installation and/or automotive recalibration standards that have been determined and approved by a governing body that your company follows?
Answer: We are not associated to any governing body but do feel we have considerable experience in the field as we were the first to market in the UK.
- You’ve received the Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance ISO9001 rating. What does this mean to your company and staff?
Answer: We have been accredited by Lloyds QA for over five years and our team are very proud of this accreditation. We are currently working towards ISO9001 // 2015.
- Do you provide recalibration services at each of your centers? Do you also provide the service on a mobile basis?
Answer: We currently have twenty sites across the UK and during 2017-2018 we are planning additional sites in strategic locations
- What is the time required for completing recalibration – shortest, longest and average?
Answer: Approximately forty-five minutes for static or dynamic calibration.
- Do you charge customers for recalibration? How much do you charge for a recalibration? Are you able to bill insurance and fleet customers for this service or do the customers pay for the recalibration directly?
Answer: Our standard price is in the region of £130.00 (US$ 165.00 prox) plus vat. We have a number of billing routes into insurance or fleet customers
- When you complete a recalibration is it always 100% effective? How do you know that a proper recalibration has been completed?
Answer: We have had a small number of unsuccessful calibration. This has been largely down to the relevant software release. In the event that we are unable to recalibrate we would advise the driver to take their vehicle to a franchised OEM dealership.
- NWS is committed to providing this service to your customers. For those companies in other parts of the world who are interested in providing a similar service to their customers and wonder what the return-on-investment is, can you tell me how long will it take you to get a return on your investment?
Answer: Provided you have access to the vehicle park you should have no problem in obtaining an ROI in under 12 months.
- Do you provide this service for other AGRR companies that you compete with or does NWS make the service available solely to your customers?
Answer: This is under discussion now as we feel if has further potential.
- ADAS has been called an interim technology. Do you feel this is the case and, if so, what do you think will replace it?
Answer: We have been informed that the technology is at stage three and the vehicle manufacturers or those providing the equipment are aiming for fully autonomous vehicles which would be stage five.
- How have you been able to determine which makes and models require recalibration?
Answer: Manufacturers with an ADAS enabled windscreen, but on several occasions they aren’t activated or the camera mounting has been blanked off. We feel that the best identification point is by the technician during installation
- How do you handle makes/models where the vehicle owner is instructed to only use the OEM car dealership for calibration?
Answer: We have a robust process in place to organise any calibration should we need to use a franchised dealership. However, we would always recommend a calibration to be carried out during the glass installation to avoid any inconvenience to the driver.
- How knowledgeable do you find consumers are about ADAS and the need for recalibration?
Answer: Their understanding is gaining momentum largely due to the vehicle manufacturer selling the driver aid technology as a safety feature
- How have you educated your insurance and fleet customers, as well as consumers of the importance of proper recalibration of ADAS after you’ve completed a replacement?
Answer: Yes, we feel have taken an active role in educating the insurance and fleet sectors. We have presented to number of customers and a “best practice” session at the 2016 Fleet Management Live event at NEC in Birmingham.
- Are there any learnings from your experience with providing a complete ADAS solution to your customers in the United Kingdom that you can share with other auto glass companies interested in recalibration systems?
Answer: Good technical support is the key to successful calibration in the initial stages of use.
Thank you for taking the time to answer the questions that I’ve asked today Philip. The commitment that Nationwide Windscreen Services has made to customers they serve is highly commendable and provides a roadmap to AGRR companies that are looking to provide an ADAS solution for vehicles with this technology that requires recalibration after the installation. The commitment that NWS has made in investing in calibration equipment, employee training and facilities allowing the company to deliver a complete ADAS solution to is highly commendable and delivers a strong statement that safety is paramount to their customers. Congratulations to you and your company for being a leader in the industry.
As more and more OEM vehicles have ADAS technology onboard we need to ensure that aftermarket automotive companies are fully prepared to properly recalibrate vehicles they service if recalibration is required. The consequences could be life or death for consumers when an automotive aftermarket company provides service and doesn’t recalibrate the vehicle when required. Is your company taking the proper steps to ensure that you’re fully prepared?