OE Repair Information: Are we doing enough?

By Ben Hart

Here we are in 2020; an industry that has endured many challenges as we have progressed over the last decade. I’d like to think that we are all performing better and safer repairs today; though, I am constantly hearing similar rhetoric from numerous shops, vendors, insurance companies and training providers (myself included) about “OE procedures,” “following OE repair information” etc.

Every respectable shop in 2020 has access to repair information and has technicians on staff who have completed some level training, post Red-Seal certification. Some shops eclipse this with full I-CAR Gold status, and perhaps OE training, including direct access to OE repair sites. On the surface, this looks like we have come a long way, and I am very proud of our industry for these accolades.

When digging deeper, one should ask, ‘are these accomplishments merely rubber stamps or are they meaningful?’ It is wonderful to have all this training, information and equipment, but what really counts is whether we are utilizing them to their fullest potential, or not. OE repair programs often require stringent criteria and audits, but no one is checking every job and every individual task to ensure this. The onus is still on the shop and each staff member to ensure that the repairs have been completed with strict adherence to OE guidelines.

Unfortunately for a busy production environment, researching, comprehending, then executing all of the required procedures takes a lot of time which equates to added costs. The folks over at CollisionHub.com in the U.S. have some excellent training and research available on this topic.

As I tour shops, I have been impressed with the levels that some owners take to ensure the criteria are met. Some shops have dedicated staff to research procedures, others ensure all estimators and technicians have computers with easy access and quality control points to ensure all criteria are met.

This makes me wonder if the researcher’s role will become commonplace. Someone to research and interpret repair information for the technicians and estimators while also ensuring the correct parts, materials, fasters, tools, equipment and training can be met to complete the repair. I also understand that some shops aren’t there (yet?).

All I ask of the industry is to take a moment of meta-cognitive reflection to see how has your knowledge, skills and attitude towards modern technology evolved over the last decade and how will it continue to progress? Then ask yourself, “am I doing enough?”

Ben Hart is a Red Seal certified autobody technician and refinisher with more than two decades of experience in the industry. For the past two years, Ben has instructed apprenticeship programs at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT). He can ben.hart@sait.ca.

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