The i-Shop integrated environment will eliminate the “walk of death” and revolutionize the way that vehicle service will be performed for customers, delegates at the Automotive Industries Association of Canada convention were told.
The i-Shop standards will enable all equipment and computing resources in a repair facility to communicate, which will eliminate the need to reenter vehicle information several times throughout the repair process and enable technicians to access repair information from any PC-based piece of equipment within an organization, said Scott Luckett, senior director of Information Technology & Project Development for the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association. This ability to communicate freely eliminates the need for the technician to leave the repair job to look for information, a time-consuming task known as the “walk of death” for what it does to productivity. Luckett says that studies have shown that this can rob more than half a labor hour from a technician’s productivity.
The i-Shop standard integrates shop management systems, parts catalog and labor estimating, service and repair information and PC-based diagnostic and repair equipment.
“Even a frame straightener in a bodyshop is PC-based,” says Luckett. “The reality today is that these systems don’t talk to each other. Any piece of information that needs to move from one to the other needs to be re-keyed. A vehicle description may need to be re-entered three times during any service occasion.” This takes time and adds to the probability of errors occurring.
The development of the shop standard has been spurred by the need to improve labor and repair efficiencies at the shop level. The standard will also enable parts ordering over the Internet.
“As the number of shop bays goes down, the demand for service is going up. The capacity to service vehicles is going down. So, something is necessary to increase the productivity in the bays,” says Luckett. “At the shop level, the customer is the beneficiary. Like Intel Inside, when he buys an i-Shop product, it will talk to the other i-Shop equipment in his shop.
“This really is the future state of vehicle service. If we can’t service the vehicles efficiently, they will be serviced by another channel. This is essential technology to the future of our industry.”
The evolution of separate previous initiatives to develop communication standards by the Enterprise Alliance and Snap-On, the i-Shop standard has been developed with the unprecedented cooperation of virtually every major supplier of shop equipment. A pilot shop is currently testing the developing standard at Canadian Tire’s Retail City facility. The standard is expected to be ready for release this fall.