ADAS in focus at Thatcham

Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) was the hot topic at Thatcham Repair Focus, which was attended by more than 300 delegates on Tuesday.

An ADAS workshop drew attendees in the three figures, while ADAS and calibration was also a key part of Thatcham’s Bodyshop of the Future tour, which also touched on the growing influence of artificial intelligence (AI) in the crash repair sector.

Meanwhile, a panel debate in the afternoon urged bodyshop managers to invest in training – both for themselves and their workforce – but warned them against spreading themselves too thin in an effort to be all things to all men.

Tom Hudd, operations manager at Thatcham, said, ‘There are five different ADAS systems out there and they all differ massively. Before you dive headfirst into it with a £10-£15,000 investment, talk to us – or you could easily invest in equipment that will just gather dust.’

That view was shared by Robert Snook of Business Success Global. He said, ‘You need to decide what your bodyshop is and what it will repair. If you try to repair everything you will run out of money. You can’t invest in everything, it’s not possible or practical. So, have a vision of your business and work backwards. Then it will be easier to make those investment decisions. You’re better off being famous for one thing than trying to be all things to all men.’

Meanwhile, visitors were also urged to gear up for the impact of AI, which can assess some aspects of vehicle damage and decide on the best course of action inside four seconds. The next step is identifying what parts are required for a repair, and ordering them automatically.

Daniel Payne, chief digital officer, said, ‘It feels to me like we’re moving away from the need for a human to go out and carry out simple assessments. Technology can do that and technicians can then focus on all the emerging technologies and the complicated repairs.’

He added, ‘I think bodyshops need to maximise the use of technology. It will be increasingly difficult to survive otherwise, because others will be doing it.’