Publisher's Statement - June 2017
Unified industry support needed to cross the line
Despite some dips in demand, overall business is good. If you’re making periodic upgrades, providing some training, selling, and the status of your staff is healthy, it’s all good and moving forward. Add a new product or service, better still. Often, there is even sufficient time for civic, charitable, and industry contributions.
Acceptance of technology changes are, at least for now, so far, so good. With key indicators such as the number of vehicles and miles-driven continuing to trend up, interest rates down, and fuel prices low, it’s been a user-friendly, mostly affordable, time of transition. So it is in the shops and parts stores.
But, what appeared to be a clear view into the future now appears to have been a near-term vision only, now revealing upcoming disruptive detours and delays, even threats of survival, that will challenge business models, require profit needed for investment purposes, and demand unified industry efforts to address and solve the challenges just ahead.
But, industry leaders and associations have kept a vigilant eye out for the disruptive disturbances caused by new technologies, quantum leaps across the line that redefine “service ready.” Parts and equipment manufacturers are aware. ADAS components are already appearing in new models. Software-rich sensors and control modules proliferate and will require recalibration. There are issues regarding software-embedded parts. Access to diagnostic information is, again, threatened. And, the trained technician shortage remains an increasing challenge.
Industry leaders and associations are addressing those challenges and, in many cases, are ahead of the curve. Committees formed, seminars held, like-minded-networking at trade shows and association meetings, dedicated industry professionals offering time and assistance are all ongoing, and have, perhaps, prepared us for the critical times ahead.
Now it is time for the entire industry to unify and support efforts to secure and develop the future through direct and indirect involvement in chosen associations.
Access to information
Beginning with model year 2018, vehicle manufacturers will be required to keep their software in a cloud that’s available to download from on a subscription basis, allowing for a standardized interface (J2534). Right to Repair dictates that all of the same information, tools, and software OEMs provide to dealerships must be provided to the independents at a fair and reasonable price. Will there be compliance?
The NASTF education initiative to expand upon the ASE AYES program to train technicians is ready to move forward if adequately supported by the industry. It includes the development of apprentice/intern standards, the establishment of career credential tracking, and the ensuring of ongoing continuing education. Will it receive necessary support?
Can industry benefits be secured through resolution of J2534 and the pending adoption of the newest, SAE 5.0 version?
Access and availability of manufacturer scan tools, including information, needs to be available and affordable.
It’s not easy to set aside resources amidst daily and quarterly demands. However, the call to action by the industry to address and solve upcoming challenges should be answered by industry participants, individually and collectively, at all levels. Associations will collaborate to present a consensus stance. Manufacturers, the distribution channel, the shops, and all associated participants, including the trade press, should directly and indirectly support their industry associations to the extent needed to ensure a unified industry can cross the line to the future of vehicle maintenance and parts replacement.