During my time at industry week, I had the opportunity to visit both AAPEX and SEMA for extended periods of time. It’s always exciting to see so many companies and all of the innovative and creative ideas that are continuously flowing out of our great industry. The great thing about the automotive industry is that we create new ideas and innovations as well as adapt new technologies from other industries. The aftermarket is especially efficient at adapting and being creative to respond to changing trends. Over the years, that ability is what has made the aftermarket so strong in the service and repair segments of the business.
While walking the floor at AAPEX, my attention was drawn to the Shop of Tomorrow booth. During my tenure on the original equipment side of the business, I spent seven years inside a technology-based division and am drawn to interesting uses of technology. The Shop of Tomorrow booth focused on telematics what the current capabilities are and what they can be applied to in the service and repair side of the business. Basically, it is the vehicle’s capability to communicate its codes/concerns with a remote source. The technology utilizes the OBDII port with a small transmitter that can communicate fault codes to a central receiving entity. This information can them be analyzed and broadcast to multiple destinations that might be interested in the codes.
Follow this scenario: a driver’s vehicle presents a code in the vehicle’s OBDII system and that code is then broadcast to a central receiving point that uses probability tables to analyze and predict what the issue might be. This information is then transmitted to the driver’s preferred automotive repair specialist for booking an appointment. Simultaneously, the technician’s preferred parts suppliers’ inventories are scanned to see if the replacement part is in stock. If so, it can be shipped to the repairer. If the driver of the vehicle is a smart-device owner, he or she can be notified of when their appointment is and when they can expect to get the vehicle returned to them. Conceivably, this could happen before the driver even notices a check engine indicator.
I know this all sounds like Star Wars stuff, but I am witness to the fact that it is here, it is built and it works. GM has had a little thing called OnStar that has all these capabilities and more. You need to trust me that they are not the only car manufacturer with these kinds of capabilities.
The automotive aftermarket needs to get behind this independent solution that can be used by all repairers and get it in place. Now is the time for us to show the world just how creative and nimble we in the aftermarket can be.