By Mike Pickford
Peterborough, Ontario -- October 4, 2016 -- The collision repair industry has come a long way over the past decade. So have the people that work within it. With technology continuing to evolve at an unforgiving rate, industry professionals are constantly being challenged to keep up with the times.
The idea is that the work they put in today will invariably pay off tomorrow. That’s the motto of many within the industry who are choosing to champion the use of digital colour matching technology.
AkzoNobel is leading the charge in promoting this relatively new form of technology. For decades the company has assisted body shops across the continent select their paint formulas by providing colour chip documents to test against the vehicles they’re working on. Back in the early 2000s the company realized, like many other things at the time, that there was potential to develop a digital program to take over from the more traditional format. And so the Automatchic system was born.
Working in place of the paint chips, AkzoNobel developed a device that is able to precisely measure and match the existing colour on vehicles.
Now well into its third generation after the recent release of the Automatchic Vision – an upgrade over the previous Automatchic 3 - AkzoNobel is pleased with the progress the program has made over the past ten years. Speaking to Collision Repair magazine, technical consultant with the company Brad Kruhlak noted that digital colour matching technology was gaining more of a foothold on the industry.
“AkzoNobel has a long history of investing in our digital colour matching systems. We realize that as technology improves, we also need to improve and we’re delighted with the response we’ve been getting from our customers regarding these cameras,” Kruhlak said. “They’ve been steadily growing in popularity in Canada and specifically the United States over the past 12 months.”
While the Automatchic Vision itself is the easy-to-handle system body shops can use to digitally analyze colour vehicles, it’s the Automatchic Smart Search software that provides the optimum matching colour formula database.
Since taking on the head painting role within his dad’s shop – Hak’s Auto Body in Yellowknife, NWT – over the past couple of years Senad Mujcin has been a big fan of AkzoNobel’s Automatchic technology.
“I know we’ve had this new technology and this new camera system for a while and while some of the people working in the shop were a little hesitant to use it, I kinda embraced it full on,” Mujcin told Collision Repair magazine. “Without going into too much detail, the camera has pretty much eliminated the need for all colour chip documentation at the shop.”
Not satisfied with simply using the system as designed, Mujcin went one step further in creating a colour library of his own.
“Whenever we get to the point where we’re wanting to use the camera, every single time we go in and get a colour description I make sure to input the last eight digits of the vehicle’s VIN number into the system alongside the colour codes… That way we’ve got information on file if a car comes back to the shop. We don’t have to go through the process again,” Mujcin said.
Having used the system extensively over the past 18 months, Mujcin said the advantages have been there for all to see and he encourages all those in the collision repair industry to give the new technology a chance.
“We love the camera up here. It’s increased our efficiency, reduced the number of colour redoes we’ve had to perform tremendously and overall helped bring our paint usage numbers down,” Mujcin said. “The only downfall I can really see with this technology is trying to get people to buy into it. It’s like a lot of things really, it’s difficult trying to teach old dogs new tricks but once you have the right person that gets on it you really do start to see the benefits and advantages it brings.”
Having also used the Automatchic Vision program quite extensively at each of their two CARSTAR locations in Red Deer over the past year, brothers Brian and Darryl Hemstreet couldn’t speak highly enough about the product.
“I think the colours that we have to spray are getting harder and harder to match and this camera is a great way to utilize technology to make things a little easier,” Darryl said. “It’s helped our business by the way of eliminating variability and helping us to be more efficient in finding tough colours or colours we don’t have a variance for. Anytime we can utilize technology to make our lives easier, we need to do that.”
“The camera works very well. You’ve got to keep a bit of an open mind when you’re using it, but it has definitely helped us in the way that it identifies colours quickly. It’s user friendly and it does give us lots of information every time we use it,” Brian said. “Technologically speaking, this is the way our industry is going. It’s time to buy in and realize there are better ways of doing things out there.”
Kruhlak said he expects to see this recent shift towards using the new technology continue over the coming years, stating that AkzoNobel had a "definite plan" in place to completely phase out its colour chip service by 2020.
“There's definitely going to be a time that the cameras completely take over from the colour chips, we're already preparing for it. AkzoNobel has been building this database for the camera since 1993 so we have a long history with this thing,” Kruhlak said. “I think the biggest draw about these cameras is that it takes the guess work away from painters. One analogy I’ve always liked is that it’s kind of like comparing an old school camera to a digital camera. Everything is right there immediately with the digital camera, whereas the old camera there’s a long, drawn out process you have to follow. It’s all about saving time and saving money and we feel the digital colour matching system helps do just that.”
For more information on AkzoNobel’s Automatchic series, visit automatchic.com.