Tools of the trade

The car manufacturing industry is one that is constantly updating technologies in new and future vehicles, which directly affects the repair and refinish industry and the tools needed. Here, bodyshop magazine examines the current and future trends in relation to the tools of the trade.

One manufacturer currently innovating when it comes to tools of the trade is Bosch, it recently added three new products to its Professional range of cordless impact drivers and come with electronically commutated (EC) motors. The new motors offer 30% longer life between battery charges and up to double the product lifetime when compared to impact drivers with conventional motors. The secret to the longevity of the new Bosch Professional impact drivers is the brushless EC motor which is maintenance-free and also offers longer operation per battery charge. An additional bonus of EC technology is its compact and lightweight design which makes the range perfect for use across a variety of applications.

Draper Tools is also designing tools for the industry that are more lightweight, with the brand only just releasing its new Storm Force range. This range of tools is aimed at anyone looking to upgrade from traditional aluminium-bodied air tools. The housings have been designed to be lightweight, comfortable and durable. The range includes everything from a reversible air drill’, an impact wrench with a composite body’ and a dual action air sander’.

Design

Another company that designs tools to suit the changing needs of the motor industry is Power-Tec. In 1997 Power-TEC introduced its Miracle System, which has always been at the forefront of vehicle repair, offering high quality, fast turnaround panel repair. It speeds up the repair process, while increasing the element of labour within each repair job and reduces the need for panel replacement.

With the introduction of more and more aluminium panels and also electric vehicles, the Miracle System has had to evolve along with the vehicles, said Power-TEC’s operations manager Steve Bradbury.

‘In fact, the Miracle Aluminium System is the only panel repair system approved by Tesla Cars worldwide,’

Steve continued, ‘Power-TEC has always been the market leader in innovative tools and we are already looking into carbon fibre repair techniques where new tooling like ultra-sound, vacuum bags and also intensive specialist training will be needed.’

Complex

Other changes, such as modern bumpers now housing complex crash avoidance systems, require different repair techniques, for example, nitrogen plastic welders. The vehicle electronics then may require calibration after the repair to check that all the systems are working correctly before the vehicle goes back on the road. These crash avoidance systems, once in mass use, should reduce accidents, especially front end shunts by over 30% according to Steve.’ As this technology develops and becomes increasingly more complex, it’s likely that bodyshops of the future will require technicians that are also computer programmers, in order to assess or a repair a vehicle,’ said Steve.

A major change coming through in the industry that may require all sorts of new tooling, more training and computer savvy bodyshop technicians, is the introduction of the driverless car concept. Major vehicle manufacturers such as Volvo, Nissan, Ford and Audi are all claiming that these vehicles will be in production by 2020. Google has also got in on the autonomous action and has been running trials with numerous vehicles in Silicon Valley for more two years now.

While it’s clear that working on driverless cars will involve a better knowledge of the systems behind them, it’s difficult to guess at this stage exactly what new tools and training will be required to work on them. Though one thing is for sure, the bodyshops who are up-to-date with the latest tools and work on upskilling staff will be in the best position to deal with the impending revolution set to change the face of the automotive industry.