Industry Seemingly Wary On SEMA Attendance Amid COVID-19

A survey run by US industry website CollisionWeek targeted at collision repair industry stakeholders and asking them whether they think they will participate in the SEMA Show later this year has discovered that a majority are likely not to go.

The survey, conducted from 30 June to 6 July, also included questions about the many meetings and training opportunities surrounding the November event in Las Vegas. The number of submissions and valid responses was not disclosed.

According to CollisionWeek, 29 per cent of respondents said that they would definitely not participate in the SEMA Show this year, while an additional 24 per cent indicated they would “not likely” participate. Combining the two numbers, 53 per cent of respondents are uncomfortable about attending the SEMA Show in November.

9.7 per cent of respondents said they would definitely attend and 10 per cent indicated they were likely to attend, meaning 19.7 per cent overall are leaning towards attending. 27.3 per cent said they were currently undecided.

Respondents who said they were definitely or likely not to attend were asked to rank their concerns and issues that led to their conclusion. 59.8 per cent said safety due to the pandemic was their number one concern, while 23.3 per cent said company travel restrictions and exhibition plans were their biggest concern. Others also cited cancellations of other meetings surrounding SEMA, along with economic factors facing their business and possible lower attendance for the event as reasons for concern.

Another common issue mentioned was concerns about government travel quarantine requirements that might be in place that could impact participants on their return to their home community. Both participants based in other US states and international participants said they were concerned about uncertainty on the need to quarantine after returning from the SEMA Show as a factor affecting their decision to participate.

Several US states have 14-day quarantines for travellers from other states considered COVID-19 hot spots or that have incidence of positive coronavirus tests above a specific percentage of the population.

Many international trade shows and events originally scheduled for this year have either been rescheduled for 2021 or brought online, while others have been cancelled altogether. However, the SEMA Show has continued to plan for its 2020 event amid the backdrop of increased coronavirus cases across many states in the USA, especially Nevada, California and Texas.

Ezi-Methods Reaches Two Million Downloads

Ezi-Methods has reached the milestone of having its methods downloaded two million times, achieving it in March right before the COVID-19 lockdown was imposed. Dan Dillon, training co-ordinator at Gemini Accident Repairs, was the lucky one to download the landmark procedure.

While the number of downloads decreased over the weeks that followed, a further 170,000 have now been downloaded since Dillon reached the milestone. Dillon was presented with £250 vouchers and a bottle of champagne to celebrate the achievement.

“The speed in which we have recorded our two millionth download just two years after reaching our first million is a testament to the pace and faith in which the industry is adopting our services,” said Ben Cardy, Commercial Director for Ezi-Methods.

Ezi-Methods says it offers over 44,000 repair methods spanning 57 vehicle brands and 944 models encompassing 1330 body styles, statistics which evolve and increase on a daily basis as the company continues to add to its library.

“Gemini is leading the industry with its drive to develop multi-skilled apprentices which I am privileged to oversee,” said Dillon. “As our more experienced repairers use Ezi-Methods, I turn to the company on an almost daily basis to ensure our apprentices, whether they’re new to our business or coming to the end of their programmes, follow the correct repair methods as specified to meet the latest industry requirements. You also have the added advantage of having the Ezi-Methods team instantly at the end of a phone if ever there’s a query.

“To say I’m delighted to receive the gift is an understatement – I never thought for a second I was downloading the two millionth repair method. I just downloaded for what I needed as I do most days. All I can say is thank you.”

Solera Announces Full AI Vehicle Claims Platform

Solera Holdings has introduced the latest iteration of Qapter, the company’s automotive claims workflow solution which is powered by artificial intelligence (AI). Solera says its AI technology provides a globally available end-to-end solution for full digitalisation of the modern claims workflow.

The company says its AI has the capability to detect damaged parts, determine the type and severity of damage, define appropriate vehicle manufacturer repair operations and create an estimate based on those operations. Automation tools improve the process of triage claims workflow, speed up reviews of damage photos, rapidly improve identification of total loss vehicles, and support identification of the next best action for repairable vehicles. These capabilities all save time, speed up the claims process and shorten the lifecycle of a claim for insurers, body repair centres, assessors and vehicle owners.

Solera says it is combining its repair science technology with over 300 million historical claims, one billion historical images and enhanced machine learning algorithms to drive efficiency and increase accuracy. The approach is intended to provide superior accuracy and performance compared to rudimentary standalone AI image recognition point solutions.

“Implementing AI will drive huge efficiency gains, but above all, the extent of such gains are determined by accuracy,” said Darko Dejanovic, CEO of Solera. “This accuracy depends on the quality, not just the quantity, of the data and images that are used to train the algorithms, as well as the supporting historical damage estimate. This historical data more thoroughly trains the algorithms, not simply on the repair itself, but also on the broader context of the damage.

“With leading claims platforms currently available throughout North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific, we are excited to provide even more value to our customers by making current platforms ‘smarter’ through the use of AI and supporting a seamless transition from existing solutions to the new platform. We’ll be working closely with our customers to deliver this functionality over the coming months and provide regular releases across markets.”

WIN Announces Cornerstone Award Winners

The Women’s Industry Network (WIN) has presented its annual Cornerstone Award to Michelle Sullivan and Jenny Anderson. The organisation says the award is given to WIN board members who demonstrate remarkable commitment to its vision and set an example that others can follow.

A strong advocate of WIN and a past WIN Chair, Sullivan increased membership during her tenure and has been a mentor to many women. WIN says during the last year she worked to redefine sponsor opportunities and benefits, served on the WIN Executive Committee in various roles and served in a leadership capacity on many committees, including membership and sponsorship.

Anderson, who serves as Vice Chair on the WIN Executive Committee, selected and implemented a new WIN membership database and website. The organisation says she devotes endless hours working on the marketing initiatives of WIN, has served in many roles on the Executive Committee, co-chairs the marketing committee and is involved with the Most Influential Woman award committee.

“This award provides a way in which we can say ‘thank you’ to those board members who make a lasting impression on WIN,” said Cheryl Boswell, Chair of WIN. “Michelle and Jenny’s actions and contributions have created a great example for future board members and leaders in our organisation and we are so lucky that they are a part of WIN.”

Solera Audatex Launches Image Capture Solution

Solera Audatex, part of Solera Holdings, has announced that it rapidly implemented its Audatex Image Capture software for use in claims underwriting for AXA, a global insurance firm.

Given the current condition of the industry due to the pandemic, AXA says it was seeking an innovative and safe way to simplify and speed up the underwriting process for its customers without requiring physical interaction.

Solera Audatex says Audatex Image Capture is an intelligent web application which delivers smart images, providing the insurer valuable insight into a customer vehicle’s condition without needing the customer or assessor to travel. The company adds that the product suits the current era of social distancing and continued government regulations encouraging people to stay home – saving time, improving efficiency and keeping people safe.

In just a few hours from request to delivery, the Solera Audatex team says it created and launched a bespoke and fast digital process to support AXA’s underwriting needs, using Image Capture. This included testing and training of the AXA claims team.

The software supports the underwriting process for AXA with the following steps:

  • Image Capture sends a greeting message to the customer on their purchase of motor insurance, instructing them to click on a link to a customised AXA portal.
  • The customer is guided through a step-by-step process to capture all required images for a new policy or renewal. This step doesn’t require an app.
  • AXA receives the images immediately in high quality and can record the existing condition and details of the vehicle required to provide accurate quotation.

Solera Audatex says this Image Capture direct messaging process, which was already in use for AXA’s motor claims processing in the UAE, has a 70 per cent success rate with customer participation.

“Safeguarding the health, safety and protection of our customers is our utmost priority,” said Stefan Schrey, Head of Claims at AXA Gulf. “As such, at AXA we are glad to have a smooth and efficient digital solution readily available to meet the growing demands of car insurance as more and more people begin using personal vehicles versus public transportation in the coming weeks. We appreciate the quick response from Solera Audatex in getting this process moving quickly, which will help us meet the market need from customers.”

“We’re happy to partner with AXA to quickly provide them with the right solution to help them overcome the unforeseen challenges brought on by this pandemic,” said Arnaud Agostini, Regional Managing Director of Solera Middle East. “Image capture brings a whole range of benefits to both insurers and their customers, providing a fully digital solution to save valuable time and ensure continuous operations while enhancing the overall customer experience.”

Solera Audatex says Image Capture also allows body shops to send their customers a text message request for images of their vehicle’s condition and damage via their smartphones. The bodyshop receives an email notification when the customer sends the images and can then immediately access them to begin triage with increased accuracy. The additional images provided allow body shops to begin the damage estimation process, gain early repair authorisation and pre-order required parts, all before the vehicle has arrived on site, reducing key-to-key times and improving customer experience and satisfaction.

2020 SEMA Show Registration Now Open

The 2020 SEMA Show, taking place at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Nevada from 3 to 6 November, has opened its registration to attendees.

SEMA says the annual gathering has been set at a time when analysts anticipate the marketplace will begin its path to recovery, which event organisers believe will position the show to be vital in helping businesses move toward a successful 2021.

Show organisers say they are actively working with leading experts to develop standards and protocols to create an optimal environment for conducting business, focusing on the health and wellbeing of those at the event.

“We know the SEMA Show this year will be fundamental to helping businesses connect and move forward,” said Tom Gattuso, SEMA Vice President of Events. “We take that role very seriously, but not at the expense of the health and safety of the industry. We’re confident that we will build a suitable environment that gives people certainty that they are not at risk to congregate, yet still leverages the show’s position on the calendar to help the industry recover more quickly.”

Gattuso noted that the show will likely look different from previous SEMA events, but assured the industry that what will remain the same is the level of value and quality of business that visitors are used to.

The SEMA Show is not open to the public, nor are there tickets or passes available for sale. Everyone must qualify to receive a badge and attend the event based on provided documents verifying their employment in the automotive aftermarket industry. For more information about qualifying documents and the 2020 SEMA Show or to register, click here.

Glasurit Renews WorldSkills Sponsorship

Glasurit, BASF’s premium paint brand, has renewed a global industry partnership with WorldSkills International for two more years to continue supporting young spray painters in the industry. The sponsorship will include support for the WorldSkills Shanghai 2021 competition.

“We are very happy to partner with WorldSkills once again following the successful use of our Glasurit brand of refinish coatings at WorldSkills Kazan 2019 to focus on sustainability, digitalisation and diversity for the next generation of spray painters,” said Fabien Boschetti, Director, Global Marketing Automotive Refinish Coatings Solutions, BASF. “The event brings together young people, industry, government, education, and institutions, to promote the benefits of our industry and drives the passion for skilled car painters to enter the field.”

Glasurit says it looks forward to supporting the upcoming competition under the motto “New Youth, New Skills, New Dream” as China prepares for WorldSkills Shanghai 2021. The company is also supporting the first WorldSkills Museum which will exhibit the history of skills.

The WorldSkills Museum, located on the bank of the Huangpu River in Shanghai, is being touted as the first globally devoted to vocational skills. It is a collaboration between WorldSkills International and WorldSkills Shanghai 2021 with participation from global partners.

BASF says it has been a leading educator of spray painters as part of its global ‘STAMPP’ (STimulate and revAMp the Paint Profession) programme. It includes one year of internationally standardised training and further body shop internship opportunities for new automotive refinishing technicians.

Glasurit says all the young painters at the WorldSkills Competition use refinishing products and colour-matching tools exclusively from its company. It also says it successfully trained 30 WorldSkills experts from 30 countries in the use of Glasurit products and processes for the last WorldSkills Competition in Kazan using the Glasurit Know-how online training platform and other digital tools.

Glasurit says it aims to teach all its participants awareness about working sustainably by using the right products, reducing waste and reusing materials throughout their profession.

Euro NCAP Overhauls Safety Rating System

The European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) is introducing new tests to address long-standing needs in occupant protection, improve post-crash protection and promote the latest advanced driver-assistance technology.

One of the major changes is the inclusion of a new ‘moving barrier to moving car’ frontal crash test, which replaces the regulation-based offset-deformable barrier test. The new test better evaluates the protection of occupants inside the car and assesses how the car’s front-end structures contribute to injuries. Euro NCAP considers the Mobile Progressive Deformable Barrier, its unique method to rate vehicle compatibility and the first adoption of the “THOR” mid-sized male crash test dummy as important innovations towards this.

Side impact updates include adjustments to the near-side barrier test speed and mass to increase the severity of the test. Euro NCAP will analyse far-side impact protection to focus on driver protection and the potential interaction between the driver and front seat passenger.

The company says it is adding new and challenging test scenarios to rate automated emergency braking (AEB) technology for cars and vulnerable road users, including ‘back over’ situations and turning at a crossing. In addition, Euro NCAP said it has taken its first step in evaluating driver status monitoring systems, which are designed to detect driver fatigue and distraction, as part of its Safety Assist assessment.

In partnership with CTIF, the International Association of Fire & Rescue Services, Euro NCAP developed new rating rules for increased post-crash safety, with manufacturers to receive bonus points for rescue information that is more accurate and easily available.

The company is urging consumers to be mindful when comparing new ratings to those from previous years – the new systems aren’t directly comparable to older ratings.

Automechanika Frankfurt Postponed To September 2021

Messe Frankfurt, the convener of the Automechanika fairs, has announced the postponement of its flagship Automechanika Frankfurt exhibition. Organisers said the trade show was delayed due to the difficult conditions resulting from the coronavirus pandemic and measures taken to stem its spread, including event bans and travel restrictions that continue to be extended on a regular basis.

Automechanika Frankfurt, along with its customers, partners and supporting associations have agreed to postpone the Automechanika Frankfurt event that was originally scheduled to take place from 8 to 12 September 2020. The new dates announced are 14 to 18 September 2021, effectively meaning that the show will be postponed more than a year after its original date.

“It simply would not have been possible for many of the exhibitors and visitors from over 180 countries to take part in the event under the conditions currently prevailing or those expected at that time, said Olaf Musshoff, Director Automechanika Frankfurt. “In agreement with exhibitors, representatives from industry, workshops and retail, associations and partners, we have rescheduled the event for autumn 2021.”

Olaf Musshoff.
Detlef Braun.

Automechanika Frankfurt will then resume its biennial rotation – the event will now take place in odd-numbered years.

“Our top priority is ensuring the health and safety of everyone – exhibitors and visitors alike – taking part in the event,” said Detlef Braun, Member of the Executive Board of Messe Frankfurt. “With waves of the pandemic moving around the globe and many countries not expecting it to peak until the summer, I am certain that the decision to postpone Automechanika until September 2021 is the right one. Over the past two weeks in particular, we have been engaged in intensive discussions with our customers, partners and supporting associations, and they sent us a clear signal. By holding the event in 2021, we are responding to our customers’ wishes.”

18:30 AEST: Story updated with comment from Detlef Braun.

Suncorp Apprentice Programme Gains 55 New Recruits

Suncorp Group has recruited 55 new members to its apprentice scholarship programme, established to support training in the motor industry and provide young Australians with qualifications and career opportunities.

Recruits were given notice of their acceptance in February and have already begun training in Suncorp’s various Network Panel Repairers throughout the country. The scholarship programme has been running for over 10 years and currently supports over 100 apprentices across Australia. More than 600 apprentices have passed through the programme since it began.

As part of the programme, Suncorp provides subsidies to repairers to the value of $12,000 for a four-year apprenticeship, to help with the costs of employing and training the apprentices. Additionally, for every year of successfully completed studies, Suncorp provides apprentices with $1000 to assist with tools, equipment, and study-related purchases.

“The Suncorp Group needs quality repairers to ensure we are providing the best service to our customers,” said Brett Wallace, Executive Manager Assessing and Repair Performance, Suncorp. “Our apprenticeship programme is one way we ensure quality repairers are coming up through the ranks and contributing to the future of the motor repair industry. It is a true reflection of our repairers’ commitment to supporting a sustainable industry.”

Suncorp says apprentices receive most of their training in the workshop where they specialise in either panel beating or spray painting, along with attending local TAFEs to support their on-the-job training with theoretical knowledge. Once completed, apprentices graduate from the programme with either a Certificate III in Automotive Body Repair Technology or a Certificate III in Automotive Refinishing Technology, and are eligible to work as fully qualified panel repairers or spray painters.