As vehicle technology only gets harder to navigate and more training is required, artificial intelligence can help along the way, experts suggested.
And if you have lower-skilled technicians in your shop, AI can help make them better, they added. It can even help the best techs you have.
Scott Brown, industry ambassador with Diagnostic Network, told attendees of the MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers Aftermarket Technology Conference that his company rolled out a project where an AI machine would be able to ask a customer questions about the problems they’re having with their vehicle. Then it would summarize what it perceives to be the problem and provide input and guidance on how to repair the issue.
He noted that it was interesting to see the response from intelligent, A-type personality technicians to this. Most don’t believe it’s going to work. Brown thinks they feel threatened by it.
“But for others, they’re seeing this and they’re going, ‘Oh, this is really interesting.’ And if you think about the deliverable, and who it’s being delivered to, it can take an apprentice technician or middle-educated technician and get him started on the right pathway,” he said during the panel discussion, ChatGPT & AI Applications for the Aftermarket. “And as we mature this and trade it on expert knowledge and information it’s going to streamline their process of getting to a successful return.”
Brown also pointed out that AI can tailor the information based on the skills of the technician, whether they’re a top-level A tech, a less skilled C tech or in between.
“The technicians are definitely challenged; the technology is not getting easier. So for that top-level technicians, using the AI and the response to that particular individual is going to be completely different than when it gets delivered to the B and C, tech to get their heads wrapped around where they need to go,” he said. “It’s designed really to get them on the right pathway and down to the core element.”
It’s getting them on the right path that is important, pointed out Tilak Kasturi, founder and CEO of Predii, which provides AI solutions for the aftermarket. The technology can’t be used as a crutch.
“They’re not meant for specialized knowledge,” he warned. “They actually can take you to the wrong path.”
That said, Kasturi added, you can fine-tune the data to be industry-specific. But that still requires special expertise.
“It’s not always perfect but it gives them some guidance, even for the A tech,” Brown observed.
“These guys are usually working on very complex things. The car shows up and has a million trouble codes or what have you. And it will be able to distill and give them a little bit of guidance to get them hopefully started on the right path.”