ETI Moves the Vehicle Service Industry Forward

ToolTech 2017 showcases new technology, right-to-repair, training and trends
Contributed by Bob Chabot, ManicMedia LLC

Equipment and Tool Institute’s (ETI) 2017 ToolTech event in New Orleans brought together all segments of the automobile industry — from the OEMs who build vehicles to the shops and technicians who service and repair them. The annual conference, open to all industry segments, presented many emerging technologies and their implications. In particular, the discussions of the issues, concerns and “need-to-knows” inherent to those trends provided attendees many useful insights.


ToolTech Blends an Engaging Mix of Social and Networking Opportunities

The social highlight of ToolTech 2017 was an authentic New Orleans second line parade that involved all of the 150+ attendees. Planned and executed by ETI Marketing and Events Manager Jessie Korosec, it began with evening libations in the main hotel lobby, where a genuine New Orleans jazz band entertained us and then led the group on a meandering musical march through the French Quarter to the opening reception venue. If mirth and merriment are any indicators, the parade was a hit with all.

On the business networking side, in addition to the annual business meeting that leads off ToolTech, there were two 4-hour blocks set aside for private one-on-one meetings between ETI members and OEM’s, National Accounts, Franchisors, and other ETI member companies to explore  business opportunities. These were scheduled by ETI to ensure that attendees are able to maximize their networking opportunities. When the business concluded each day the free evenings left plenty of time and daylight to explore, enjoy dinner with friends or associates, and stroll the ambience, sights and sounds of the Quarter.

“This year’s ToolTech turnout was phenomenal.  We had a great mix of attendees – ETI Members, OEM personnel, representatives from National Accounts, Franchisors, Distributors, other Industry Associations, and Aftermarket Leaders.  The Speaker Sessions were very topical and informative and we were pleased to get such a high caliber of professionals to share their knowledge and insights with our attendees.  We strive to make sure ToolTech remains a ‘must attend’ industry event.  Judging from the feedback I received form the attendees and speakers, the conference was a huge success,” said Jessie Korosec, ETI Marketing and Events Manager.

ToolTech’s annual Company Spotlight offered an engaging blend of business and social networking that stands out from trade expositions at other automotive industry events.

In the opening annual business meeting, Greg Potter, ETI Executive Manager updated attendees regarding membership, finances and current efforts by ETI to liaise with the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the International Standards Organization (ISO), federal government agencies and others to move the automobile industry forward. These included the U.S. Department of Commerce’s initiative to strengthen vehicle underdash OBD ports, activity with the newly formed SAE Data Link Connector Vehicle Security Committee, ongoing efforts with the ISO’s Extended Vehicle Workgroups, as well as ongoing discussions centered on cybersecurity, telematics, connected and automated driving.

“Current ETI membership stands at 101 companies and membership equity remains healthy,” Potter reported. “While the focus of ToolTech 2017 is on trends driving the industry, emerging technologies, cybersecurity initiatives, training and vehicle serviceability issues affecting ETI members and their customers, ETI must also be forward-thinking. To that end, in February this year, the ETI Board worked through a facilitated strategic planning process to keep us focused on the needs of our members. This is just a first step in a continuing evolution process that helped us to re-confirm most of our current beliefs and realize some new opportunities. The process helped us develop a strategy map ETI can refer to when assessing progress towards desired goals and opportunities.”

The ETI Board strategic planning process conducted earlier this year resulted in a strategy map that identifies three major areas of focus for 2018 — membership engagement, OEM engagement and data information access. Look for future coverage of these topics in the News Section on the ETI website.”

In addition to Potter’s update, ETI Technical Manager Rick Matz provided a summary of back office activities. These included preparing to launch the new Tek-Net library; managing the release for the SAE J1939-84 J1939 and IUMPR test software software; chasing down missing data from OEMs; as well as working on new Vertical Chair position descriptions, improving communication with members and identifying and developing new member consultations, such as a Tek-Net demonstration.

ETI Marketing and Events Manager Jessie Korosec advised members of the results of the 2016 ETI Member Survey, which was sent out to 477 active ETI members. A total of 35 completed surveys, a 7.4% response rate. She then asked ToolTech attendees for feedback to three important questions ETI is seeking input for:

  • What do you need more information about?  And how do you like to receive it?
  • What information or services do you want /need from ETI?  What is important to you?
  • What other general questions regarding ETI and our Marketing efforts would you like information about?

Several members provided immediate feedback and discussion topics. “Others with input or ideas are welcome to contact me directly by phone or email at the ETI office,” said Korosec.  “You get out of ETI what you put into it,” she told the ETI Members.  “This is your association and we rely on your input to gauge your level of satisfaction and your participation to make sure you are getting the membership experience that is meaningful and beneficial to you and your company.”

Korosec then introduced, Charles Marshall, the keynote speaker for ToolTech 2017. With emergent technologies, associated concerns and opportunities ready for the taking, Marshall inspirational and motivating presentation was titled The Seven Powers of Success. “Leveraging your powers within is the key to reaching successful planned outcomes,” he asserted.

Marshall used automobile analogies to describe — with humor and personal experiences and anecdotes — how we can individually and collaboratively recognize and harness personal powers to drive toward our desired outcomes. “It begins with being able to see the end from the beginning. It’s also important to invest in the peoples’ lives around you — associates, employees, partners, etc. — because you’re unlikely to succeed just on your own. And know this: Your words, promises, commitment and support for others matter. They’re all that stand in the way of success.” Doesn’t that sounds a lot like the spirit of ToolTech?

“We’re at a unique crossroads,” shared new ETI President Brian Herron, “On one hand, we’re connecting the car to the internet; on the other, we’re automating driving.


ETI White Paper Sheds Light on Emerging Technologies Service Implications
“Technology is getting to the point you soon won’t be able to change a door handle without a scan tool,” shared new ETI President Brian Herron, of Drew Technologies Inc. “As a result of growing complexity, ETI member companies that used to just sell tools or equipment are now selling products with added services. It’s just one way our members keep making it possible for the customers we serve to thrive.”

“The findings of our Automotive Components White Paper affirm that the adoption of telematics, connectivity, automated driving and associated onboard technologies have traction that will soon drive them into service facilities, but the time to begin preparing is now,” noted ETI Past President and Marketing Committee member Ben Johnson, of Mitchell 1. “With technology now running faster than the industry, ETI is critical to both the serviceability and manufacture of automobiles,” he noted. “Our close working relationships with automakers, suppliers and the service/repair aftermarket allow ETI working on things other people and organizations cannot do. That’s the unique value we provide.”

“For example, the explosion of electronics and telematics in vehicles has shortened the time horizon to seeing these technologies in service bays. The white paper analyzed emerging technologies with specific reference to how service/repair facilities would be impacted. That’s information shops and technicians need to prepare and be service-ready.”

“We are at a critical stage of implementation for Right-to-Repair this year, as MY2018 vehicles must be compliant with the Massachusetts Memorandum of Understanding,” shared Brian Herron, ETI President. ToolTech 2017 provided three distinct perspectives on R2R compliance for MY2018 vehicles — from automaker, aftermarket and heavy-duty manufacturer representatives.

Right-to-Repair (R2R) Reaches an Important Compliance Juncture in MY2018
“As of MY2018, all vehicles and resources, with the exception of ‘recall’ tools, must be compliant with the Massachusetts Memorandum of Understanding (MoU),” explained Brian Herron, ETI President. He briefly recapped the history of Right-to-Repair, before introducing three separate speaker sessions (OEM Panel, Aftermarket View of  R2R and Heavy Duty Update), which provided updates and views. “For service and repair professionals this means OEM diagnostic systems must be made available to anyone for a reasonable price, at the same ‘content level’ dealerships have, using a “Pass-Thru” interface such as J2534, RP1210, or ISO22900.”

Specifically the MOU requires:

  • OEM diagnostic systems be made available to anyone for a reasonable price, at the same ‘content level’ dealerships have, using a “Pass-Thru” interface such as J2534, RP1210, or ISO22900.
  • Scan tool data be made available via a license.
  • Pass-through reprogramming be made available through a standardized interface, such as interface such as J2534, RP1210, or ISO22900 devices.
  • Vehicle immobilizer programming all be made available

“Having seven automakers represented on the OEM panel was significant,” noted Herron,” who moderated the automaker panel. “Each showed how they had complied with each MoU requirement and also provided attendees with access details for information and training resources.”

Ken DeGrant, of Drew Technologies, presented on the Heavy Duty Right to Repair Status Update. “We are at a critical stage for the implementation of R2R MoUs for both light- and heavy-duty vehicles this year.” Medium-duty OEMs are nearly all complaint, but heavy-duty OEMs still have a long way to go to be compliant by this year’s deadline.”

“Right-to-repair originally was about hardware, but now it’s about software and other issues,” shared Bob Augustine, training director for Christian Brothers Automotive, an aftermarket multishop firm. “Just imagine if the MoU hadn’t been reached.”

“Currently, there are two R2R issues of concern to the aftermarket on the light-duty,” advised Aaron Lowe, Senior Vice President of Regulatory and Government Affairs, Auto Care Association, who provided the aftermarket’s R2R perspective. “One is a lack of VIN-specific ‘as built’ data and adequate service and programming information for advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) in vehicles already being sold. Both are critical to providing a complete and efficient service/repair. Cybersecurity is the other issue. It’s now everybody’s business, so automakers and the aftermarket must work together if customers are going to be as fully protected as possible.”

Developed with input from all industry segments, NASTF’s Road to Great Technicians Roadmap aims to (1) Promote current successful industry programs; (2) Develop effective apprentice/intern standards; (3) Establish and track industry-recognized career credentials; and (4) Ensure relevant ongoing continuing education is available to the service/repair industry.

Training Needs to Step Up
“Exploding technology is creating service gaps that training isn’t keeping pace with.” Explained Rob Morrell of WORLDPAC. “It’s no accident that the same OEMs helping with keeping aftermarket training current are the same ones whose cars are being fixed. Those OEMs that don’t are not helping technicians, shops or consumers’ brand experience.”

“The automobile industry’s training model is about 75 years old, but it’s been broken for about 70 of them,” advised Chris Chesney, senior director for CARQUEST Technical Institute’s Customer Training. “Our focus must be on how do we get technicians ready and capable to work on any vehicle. It’s essential that training begin moving toward being system-specific, rather than vehicle-specific. This is a strategy we are currently implementing.”

“Aftermarket training can be a haphazard exercise, which is a problem the industry needs to address,” added Augustine. “Too often, the training delivered doesn’t align with the training needed and expected. For technicians and shop owners, it’s like navigating a maze. Given the high costs involved to attend training events, it’s no wonder some shops focus training on the few major brands they see regularly, and outsource the rest. It’s no longer sufficient to attend an aftermarket training event and walk away with a few ah-has. At the rate technology is growing, that’s not closing the service gap.

“Automotive service and repair suffers from an image and perception problem,” suggested Mark Saxonberg, chairperson of the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF) and the principal of Saxonberg Consulting Services. “When young people are attracted to and enter this industry, there’s nothing wrong with painting a picture right up front that shows them and their parents the possible careers with clear, achievable pathways towards them,” “Working with all segments of the industry, NASTF has developed a readily-understood career roadmap that is based on designing effective education and career development programs, rather than leaving them to chance or randomness.”

Summing Up: The Way Forward
“The effects of emerging technologies on the aftermarket concern the members of ETI,’ Potter summarized. “Several issues will be prominent this year.”

“One will be servicing ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems). How to calibrate and program these systems is already proving to be very challenging in the aftermarket, as is the cost of tools necessary to provide complete ADAS service. The pre- and post-repair scan procedures required by automakers today is the beginning of an industry sea change that the proper service and repair of ADAS technologies will continue.”

Several examples of vehicles equipped with ADAS systems were cited (from Audi/VW, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, Nissan and others) that require a programming reset, such as after a wheel alignment, replacement of windshields or certain other parts. In addition, to illustrate the substantial investment in new tools and equipment require, the Audi Q7 requires an $18,000 investment to properly service onboard ADAS technology.”

“Vehicle communications will also continue to be at the forefront,” Potter continued. “It’s important to keep in mind that whatever solution prevails for remote access to in-vehicle networks, as well as direct-wired connections for enhanced diagnostics and reprogramming, the new methods will include some sort of authentication, authorization, secure session establishment and rights management.”

“We must also continue to be aware of cybersecurity,” Potter concluded. “For example, the anti-hacking and the other security protection systems that OE’s are implementing may hinder aftermarket tool development. Case-in-point: As OEMs increase their security measures, it may become much harder for legitimate aftermarket scan tool companies to develop, test and produce their own diagnostic software.”

“Other aftermarket segments will also be impacted. Expect emerging technologies and the requirements to properly service them to continue to put technicians and shops under increasingly intense expectations. To address this, better industry collaboration and outreach is essential, which will continue to be a primary ETI focus going forward.”

ETI’s ToolTech 2018 will be held May 1-3, 2018 at Lowe’s Ventana Canyon in Tucson, AZ.