Assessing the future

The Institute of Automotive Engineers Assessors (IAEA) National Conference 2015 took place at the National Motorcycle Museum on Saturday 9 May 2015. Here, bodyshop provides an insight into what proved to be emotive proceedings.

Welcomed by IAEA president, Adam Murray, the 150 Institute members in attendance heard from police and crime commissioner for Cheshire, John Dwyer who said insurers are ‘risk avoiders’ but they were allowing written-off vehicles to be repaired by bodyshops, not qualified to do so, which was ‘risky’.

John said, ‘This activity is a risk to all of us. We need some sort of audit trail to accompany any written-off vehicle and its subsequent treatment.’ With his staunch stance on the issue of write-offs, John concluded, ‘I will not go quiet on this. I will ruffle feathers and I won’t apologise for that.’

Autonomous

Next to present was Thatcham’s Andrew Hooker who spoke about autonomous vehicles, addressing what is currently happening in this area, what will happen in the future and how it will affect the entire automotive sector. Andrew pointed out he was sceptical that we will see ‘level four’ – fully autonomous vehicles any time soon.

Andrew said that there are huge benefits to come from autonomous vehicles, with next stage of autonomy being labelled ‘out of line of sight’ technology. This new system uses smartphones and other devices to give information to a ‘cloud’ to tell other drivers to watch out for a potential threat. Andrew’s example was of a cyclist behaving erratically, by which his global positioning system (GPS) sends-off a signal to warn other road users around them. Andrew said connectivity like this is coming ‘very, very soon’.

Background

Richard Taylor from LKQ Coatings gave a background to LKQ, the largest provider of aftermarket and recycled collision replacement parts. He said the business has a $6.4bn turnover worldwide.

Richard said that claims notified are on a decline, but that the number of parts used and their value has changed. He claimed the total value of parts for the sector has remained consistent, even though the number has decreased. Richard referenced the Platinum Plus initiative in the UK – a US programme where every product within the range is approved by a third party.

Kevern Thompson from Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) was the penultimate speaker, looking at how JLR ensures all its vehicles are repaired to standard. JLR wants to make sure that the decision to repair or write-off vehicles is done at assessor level. ‘Assessors are decision makers for getting vehicles repaired correctly,’ said Kevern. He said that if there was no access to manufacturers’ methodology, bodyshops should not be repairing vehicles. ‘Estimating systems are not a replacement for methodology,’ said Kevern.

His final words were to remind people to ‘ask before you act’, making sure that you get the vehicle repaired safely, with ‘quality before cost and never at the expense of safety.’

Ahead

The last speaker of the day was IBM’s Tony Boobier. Tony said that through working for insurers, he found that the automotive industry was far ahead of other industries he was working with. However, western-Europe was still a good five to eight years behind North America.

Tony reminded delegates that the customer is fundamentally changing and will be totally different in five years’ time. Tony concluded, ‘Change is coming and at a speed we can’t control.’

The IAEA’s marketing officer, Tony Simpson concluded the conference by thanking the headline sponsors Audatex, Fix Auto, Glass’s and LKQ Coatings, along with sponsors Allianz Insurance, bodyshop magazine, Thatcham and Vizion. Tony said, ‘Without continuous support from IAEA partners, the conference would not be possible.’ He also thanked David Cresswell of ABP for moderating proceedings.