BMW Australia Launches New Training Programme

BMW Australia is currently rolling out a rapid expansion of its national vehicle repair programme that will repair BMWs to a structural integrity and quality of the factories where the vehicles were manufactured.

The company says the new globally-certified training programme for BMW body and paint repair can repair advanced components including carbon-fibre and the structural elements of electric vehicles. The multi-step training programme covers the following aspects:

  • Carbon-fibre repair
  • Insurance assessor training
  • Structural repair
  • Panel replacement
  • Electric vehicle overview
  • Model technology updates
  • Painter training
  • Glass replacement

BMW says the programme uses cutting-edge techniques in all body shops to provide a “peerless” final result. It includes aviation-standard methodologies to ensure the vehicle performs to its highest standard and also carries a superior finish following an accident or repair work. The company says it also has a training career pathway for specialists so they receive updated modules and training information.

“BMW Australia and its partnered body shop network employs the most progressive techniques for vehicle repair, including for the very latest BMW models,” said Dr Reiner Meierbeck, Head of Aftersales at BMW Group Australia. “Our aim is not to repair BMW vehicles to OEM standards, but actually repair to a much higher level so they can capably withstand another impact, ensuring superior cabin integrity for all occupants.”

BMW says its training programme was designed to future proof the work of local professionals in providing them knowledge and education of new generation automotive design, engineering, and construction techniques and how to deal with the intricacies of repairing highly complex vehicles.

“As we transition into more mainstream adoption of electric vehicles and autonomous technologies, we are seeing an increased requirement for chassis and bodies to balance strength, weight, flex and rigidity,” said Dr Meierbeck. “BMW vehicles now include increased levels of high strength steel, aluminium, aluminium-steel composites, carbon, plastics and thermal plastics, and we therefore need to ensure our people are educated and fully informed of every detail.

“This is where such a high-quality training programme plays such an important role, and when combined with our technical capability, further differentiates a BMW body shop from a conventional body shop.”

Holden Certified Repairers Now Handle HSV, Chevrolet

Holden is expanding the capabilities of its network of Certified Collision Repairers, announcing that they will now handle repairs for HSV and Chevrolet vehicles.

Holden and HSV say they want their customers’ vehicles to be repaired to the highest standard using the ‘GM Safe, Proper Repair’ methodology in the event of an accident. This means that every time a GM vehicle is repaired, Holden and HSV ensure:

  • They have trained people and a culture of continuous training
  • The use of only new Holden and GM genuine parts
  • The use of GM Holden repair procedures
  • Adherence to GM Holden position statements
  • The use of the correct equipment

The companies believe that training is paramount to the GM Safe, Proper Repair methodology, adding that Holden’s Certified Collision Repair Network currently has the highest concentration of I-CAR Gold Class shops in Australia.

HSV says that with the ‘prestigious’ positioning of its vehicles, only repair shops that have gained the I-CAR Gold Class standard are eligible to receive the certification to repair them.

“We are delighted to announce the expansion of our Holden Certified Collision Repair Network with the inclusion of all vehicles sold directly by HSV and HSV dealerships,” said Paul Rietveld, Director of Aftersales at GM Holden. “Holden Accident Care and our Certified Collision Repair Network are vital programmes that show our existing customers that we are still at their service, both now and into the future.

“We extend our congratulations to all the Holden Certified Collision Repair facilities that already meet the requirement of being an I-CAR Gold Class facility. It is comforting to know that Holden and HSV customers’ vehicles are in very safe hands.”

Garry Maher (left) and Daniel Maher.

Tokio Marine Will Use AI To Analyse Vehicle Damage

Japanese insurer Tokio Marine says it will use an Artificial Intelligence (AI) solution to process vehicle damage across its insurance operations in Japan to accelerate the processing time of claims for policyholders.

The AI solution, created by technology company Tractable, uses computer vision to look at photos of car damage and interpret it as a human would in near-real-time. Tokio Marine will use the AI to understand the full range of repair decisions available to it, including recommended repair, paint, and blend operations, as well as the labour hours required.

Tractable says that using AI in this way can increase the speed of remotely reviewing claims from days to minutes, removing inefficiencies from the process, helping insurers and repairers to agree on repairs quicker and getting customers back on the road faster. The company says this is the first time that a major Japanese insurer has deployed an AI vehicle damage assessment solution into the claims process.

The two companies have had a relationship since 2018, working to improve appraisal operations that require complex visual assessments with a solution based on computer vision. After successful trials of the AI, Tokio Marine plans to use the AI at one of its claim service centres from April 2020, and will potentially deploy it across the country.

“In Japan, after an accident it can take two to three weeks to determine the amount that should be paid,” said Hidenori Kobayashi, Deputy General Manager at Tokio Marine. “By using Tractable’s world-leading AI to assess car damage, we expect to shorten that time considerably, cementing our position as a company proud to pioneer new technology that transforms the claims journey for our customers.”

“We are honoured to be selected as the AI partner by one of the world’s largest insurers,” said Alex Dalyac, co-founder and CEO at Tractable. “We see this as testament to the quality of our technology, the maturity of our solution and trust in our people. Computer vision is accelerating accident recovery; the technology is here, it’s on the ground and it’s making a difference.”

Tractable says its AI uses deep learning for computer vision and machine learning techniques. The AI is trained on millions of photos of car damage and human appraiser decisions and its algorithms learn from experience by analysing a large variety of different examples. Tractable says its technology is globally applicable to any vehicle.

Geoff Richards Panel Beating Receives I-CAR Gold Class

I-CAR Australia has announced that Geoff Richards Panel Beating in Dubbo, New South Wales, has achieved I-CAR Gold Class status.

“We pride ourselves on being the panel industry leader in the region and continue to raise the bar and be the first in many areas,” said Tracey Richards, joint owner of Geoff Richards Panel Beating. “In 2018 we were awarded the MTA Green Stamp Accreditation for our environmental management and we are now thrilled to be awarded the prestigious I-CAR Gold Class Collision status.

“Irrespective of being located in the country, we want all 19 of our staff to have the opportunity to be their best and have access to the best training available worldwide, which is why we joined I-CAR. As a business, I-CAR Gold Class Collision status is not only a reflection of our monetary investment, but our staff’s personal commitment to completing over a thousand hours of training in their own time.

“The I-CAR team made the whole process seamless and are true professionals who genuinely care about the future of the panel industry.”

“It’s fantastic to see Geoff Richards Panel Beating achieve Gold Class status,” said Gary Wood, Gold Class Coordinator at I-CAR Australia. “Their attitude and dedication towards training since joining the programme has been first class. They have proven that location isn’t a barrier when it comes to professional development for their team, and participation in online virtual training allowed them to complete the role-relevant training required for the Gold Class accreditation. Geoff Richards [Panel Beating’s] commitment to ongoing training will ensure safety and quality for all their customers. Well done from everyone at I-CAR.”

WIN Announces 2020 MIW Award Recipients

The Women’s Industry Network (WIN) has announced the 2020 honourees for the Most Influential Women (MIW) award, presented to women who have notable achievements in the collision repair industry throughout their career.

Since 1999, over 90 women have been recognised for their contributions to the collision repair industry. WIN says it has reviewed many worthy applicants and chosen three industry leaders to receive the MIW honours:

  • Sandee Lindorfer, Director, Allstate Insurance
  • Christy Jones, Owner of R Jones Collision 1
  • Kristle Bollans, Director, Replacement Accounts, The Hertz Corporation

“It is an honour to recognise these three women this year as the most influential women in the collision repair industry,” said Marie Peevy, President Automotive Training Coordinators, a 2018 MIW honouree, and Co-Chair of the 2020 MIW committee. “They are strong women who support other women and are passionate about what they do. They have the ability to dream and transform while helping others in the industry, their communities and families.”

Sandee Lindorfer

Lindorfer began her career in collision repair as a co-owner of a collision repair shop, then worked for a large MSO and later began her insurance career at Allstate Insurance, where she is now Director. She has been awarded the company’s Distinguished Leadership Award on five different occasions, as well as its Courageous Leadership Award by her claims officer team.

She serves on the I-CAR Board of Directors, participated on the advisory boards for CCC, Mitchell and Cpart, has spoken at several collision repair industry events, and serves on the WIN membership committee and in numerous capacities with CREF. She is also a supporter of the WINGS Program, Inc., and GIGI, a non-profit organisation for children with down syndrome.

Christy Jones

Jones has worked in the collision industry for 19 years and is owner of R Jones Collision 1, becoming the first female shop owner in Des Moines. She currently serves as an advisory member to the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) collision programme, is an active member of WIN, a platinum member of SCRS and a Gold Pin member of CIC. She was Secretary of the Iowa Collision Repair Association from 2010–2018 and was a committee member for the Iowa I-CAR committee.

In 2019 she was accepted into the Goldman Sachs 10,000 small business Iowa Cohort 2, has been an AkzoNobel Acoat Selected Sustaining Partner over 20 years, and was recently named one of the NAWBO Enterprising Women of the Year for Iowa in the US$1 to US$2 million category. In 2019, Jones and her friend supported Nyame Do, an educational facility in Ghana teaching women how to sew and to become independent when they graduate. They raised over US$6000 in one night and supported the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, raising over US$5000 for the cause.

Kristle Bollans

A collision industry veteran for 13 years, she received the Hertz Leadership Award in 2011, 2012 & 2013 – Hertz’s most coveted and prestigious award. Bollans said she considers it her duty and biggest responsibility to train, develop and mentor others within the business under her leadership at Hertz. She serves on the National Auto Body Board Council, on the WIN Planning Committee, and the Scholarship Selection Committee for CREF.

She is passionate about empowering women in all aspects of life and is also a committee member of Women Inspiring Leaders, Driving Execution and Results (W.I.L.D.E.R). From a community standpoint, she sits on the nurturing committee at her church, volunteers at the Homeless Support Service programme, has led giving campaigns to the National Cancer Society and the ASPCA, and volunteers her time as a teacher at 4K Sunday School.

Toyota Blocks Counterfeit Car Part Supplier

Toyota said it has stopped a major Australian vehicle body part and panel supplier from importing, advertising and selling counterfeit grilles.

The carmaker said the grilles do not meet durability or quality standards, being constructed with inferior techniques and materials, saying they are likely to fail prematurely in Australian driving conditions. As a result, the sale of them is a breach of Australian law.

Since being investigated, Toyota said SSS Auto Parts, the infringing supplier, has withdrawn the counterfeit grilles from sale, offered a refund to purchasers and forfeited remaining stock.

Fabiola Dos Santos, Toyota Australia’s Brand Protection Manager, said consumers could have been misled into believing the grilles were genuine as they illegally bear Toyota’s trademarks. Dos Santos said SSS Auto Parts had also breached Toyota’s copyright through the unlicensed use of Toyota-owned images on its website.

“Toyota will act decisively whenever counterfeit parts are being sold to Australian consumers,” said Dos Santos. “We devote significant financial, technical and human resources to develop genuine parts and accessories that offer optimal performance, durability and safety benefits to customers.

“Our grilles are designed, engineered and tested to allow sufficient air flow to the radiator, protecting the engine from overheating. They are manufactured to Toyota’s stringent quality and durability standards, an assurance that cannot be offered by anyone selling counterfeit parts.

“Some people mistakenly think that buying counterfeit auto parts is harmless and a simple way to get components at a lower price. But the impact can be far worse than people realise as there is zero testing, no legal regulation and very little recourse for consumers if the part is ineffective or unsafe.”

Dos Santos said Toyota is working with the Australian Border Force to identify and seize counterfeit parts due to the growing number entering the Australian market.

“Consumers should not assume they are buying a genuine part, even if it comes in a branded box or has a Toyota label. The best way to avoid purchasing a counterfeit item is to buy Toyota genuine parts and accessories directly from an authorised Toyota dealer.”

VeriFacts Automotive Hosts 11th Symposium

The 11th VeriFacts Symposium was held last month, focusing on the future of the collision repair industry, the coming impact of advanced repair requirements, converging technology, and commitment to providing the safest and most cost-effective collision repair for consumers.

The symposium featured two days of discussion on the changes ahead for the collision repair industry, collaborative solution development, exhibitor clinics and keynote speakers.

“We are sailing in changing seas,” said Farzam Afshar, CEO of VeriFacts Automotive. “The OEMs and insurers are partnering on insurance policies embedded in the car purchase/lease, consolidation is continuing, OEM certification is starting to replace DRPs, and we are shifting from the first notice of loss to the first notice of need, thanks to advanced technology.”

The three key topics that presentations and panellists focused on were:

  • Repair Process and Standards – how the collision repair industry addresses them today and prepares for changing repair processes tomorrow
  • Converging Technology – how all of the advanced technology from artificial intelligence (AI) to augmented reality, robotics, blockchain, quantum computing and more will converge, impacting all areas of the industry
  • Industry Consolidation and Collaboration – how consolidation of insurers, OEMs and collision repair shops will continue to drive change, and how new collaborations, like joint insurance/OEM offerings, will create new opportunities

“The 2020 VeriFacts Symposium was an exclusive gathering of the premier collision repair industry leaders for two days to gain clarity on how we can collectively deliver the highest quality, safest, cost-effective collision repair for consumers throughout the country,” said Afshar. “The VeriFacts Symposium is a safe place for like-minded colleagues to discuss the changes ahead for the collision repair industry. Looking ahead, we are collectively working to chart the course for success and navigate the future of collision repair together.”

HD Repair Forum Details Third Annual Event

The HD Repair Forum has released its annual educational programme and agenda for its two-day heavy-duty collision repair market event. The company says the event will feature speakers from industry leading companies and individuals driving change in the industry.

Some of the topics will include:

  • Frame, cab, and trailer repair
  • Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), scanning, and diagnostics
  • Business strategy and employee relations
  • Steering, braking and other key repair knowledge

The company says the speakers and content for the programme are a derivative of the work, input and direction of the HD Repair Forum Advisory Board.

“What makes the HD Repair Forum unique is that we have direct input on the content, speakers, and direction of the conference,” said HD Repair Forum Advisory Board member James Svasaand from Penske Truck Leasing. “As a result, it’s an event created for the people, but more importantly, by the people in the industry.”

For the first time in the event’s history, a bus manufacturer, Prevost, will be presenting at the conference. “We repair cars, trucks, RVs, and buses,” said HD Repair Forum Advisory Board member Mark Polzin from Budget Truck & Auto. “I’m thankful Prevost will be at the event. Their participation will shed light on some areas the industry can clearly benefit from, as it relates to the availability of parts information and repairability.”

To register online for the event, click here.

New Book Unveiled For The Collision Repair Industry

Authors John Stuef and Amy Bradshaw have released a book, titled From Doing to Leading: Your Guide for Inspiring People on the Front Lines.

“The book is written for the ‘doers,’ the frontline workers in the collision repair and service industries who are out there every day running their shops and doing their best to lead their teams and businesses,” said Stuef. “It is a great read for anyone in the industry who is looking for some guidance on successful leadership techniques.”

Stuef said that while he was working as a regional manager in charge of running six collision shops, he realised how little managerial training was available for people looking to run a successful shop and decided to write a book. He has owned, operated and managed collision repair facilities over his 40-year career.

“I’ve had a lot of opportunities to learn and grow as a leader,” said Stuef. “I saw a real need for leadership advice that catered to frontline workers, specifically in the body shop business. I’m the first to admit that I’ve made some mistakes and wanted to share what I have learned so I could save others from making some of the same mistakes.”

Stuef said he met Bradshaw, a professor at the Medical University of South Carolina and they soon appreciated a shared keen interest in human nature and in helping people tap into their inner purpose.

“Amy and I had a few inspired conversations and then decided we should write this book together. We both believe that anyone can be a great leader if they can inspire a team. Great success lies in team empowerment.”

In the book, the authors talk about the pitfalls of traditional leadership techniques and discuss the importance of understanding human behaviour and the science behind how the brain works.

“I truly believe that everyone has the potential for being a great leader but first, they need to understand human behaviour,” he said. “We share proven methods that help people learn to draw the best from those on the team and we provide information about the science behind motivation in a way that body shop guys like me can understand.”

The paperback and Kindle versions of the book can be purchased on Amazon and are also available for streaming on Audible.

John Stuef.


SAPE Group, Spanesi Announce Partnership

The SAPE Group, Australia’s largest supplier of paint, equipment and consumables to the automotive repair industry, has announced a new partnership with Spanesi, a global producer of collision repair equipment and technology.

SAPE says the new partnership will greatly strengthen its existing equipment portfolio and is part of a wider strategy to be the leading supplier of collision repair equipment in Australia. Some important aspects of the deal include the distribution of Spanesi frame machines and fixture systems, vacuum and dust extractions systems, and high-performance spray booths in Australia.

Spanesi equipment is approved for use by companies such as Audi, General Motors, Jaguar, Land Rover, Porsche, Tesla, Volkswagen and Volvo.

“We are especially excited to partner with Spanesi, a company that is recognised for being at the forefront of innovation in the automotive repair industry,” said Paul McMartin, Director of the SAPE Group. “This partnership offers exciting possibilities for Spanesi to expand its presence in Australia and we look forward to working closely with Spanesi. We welcome the Spanesi family to the SAPE Group.”