Discussions around specialization in automotive repair circles usually go towards talking about a shop or technician that services vehicles from a particular geographic region, such as Asian, European, domestic or Japanese brands.
But as vehicles become more technologically advanced, there may be less emphasis on that kind of specialization — or none at all, predicted Chris Chesney, vice president of training and organizational development at Repairify.
Speaking during the Technology Conference hosted by the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association, he said specialization discussions should be framed as being in disciplines or systems.
For example, take advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). “I will tell you that if you don’t practice the skills of setting targets for static calibrations on a daily basis, you will not become efficient at it,” Chesney said.
That may not be an advanced skill or one that would be considered in the skill set of an ‘A’ tech. “But it’s a skill that requires technical reading skills, the discipline to read service information on every job because it changes — it could change twice in a day because the manufacturers are changing service information with respect to ADAS every day,” Chesney explained.
“It requires the discipline to read it and the process to apply those skills appropriately, to be able to calibrate these vehicles properly, accurately so that the consumers driving away in a safe vehicle.”
And so the thinking about what specialization is as more ADAS-equipped vehicles come into the bay — and, eventually, as electric vehicles gain prominence — will need to change in automotive repair shops.
Another example: A data network engineer works in a shop on these modern vehicles. Their job is to solve data network problems because they understand the CAN bus from top to bottom. It doesn’t matter the manufacturer — each manufacturer uses the system to do things their own way as it is their intellectual property — they understand it at all levels.
“They figure out how to make a CAN bus do certain things that maybe their competitor can’t. But in the case of solving problems with a CAN bus, the skills are the same no matter the manufacturer,” Chesney explained. “So if you don’t have somebody who is skilled at that, you need to look [for] that.”