Auto Glass Week gets off to a strong start in San Antonio
Auto Glass Week is in full swing in San Antonio, with attendees packing the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center on Wednesday, September 14. Industry professionals started the morning by heading into the meeting rooms for a variety of educational seminars.
Wednesday’s seminars began with Nick St. Denis, Director of Research for Key Media & Research, discussing the state of the automotive glass market. While 2021 has seen a recovery from COVID-19, thanks to a return of consumer confidence and stimulus incentives, inflationary pressures have caught up.
This means that new vehicle production and new vehicle sales are both down, leading to increased demand in the aftermarket. St. Denis says commuter trips are picking up in terms of miles traveled, though some companies returning to the office are offering hybrid options.
Leisure travel is also making a comeback, but inflation could limit its long-term recovery. St. Denis says smaller increases in miles traveled and subsequent impacts on the auto glass market can be offset by additional offerings, such as ADAS calibration.
“One in five vehicles currently on the road has at least one ADAS function,” he says. “It increases dramatically over time.”
Frank Terlep, CEO of Auto Techcelerators, discussed disruption in the auto and automotive industry during the session “Industry and Vehicle Disruption: Opportunity or Threat”. According to Terlep, the disruption is caused by overconfidence, sudden collapse and continuous decline. Disruption is an opportunity or a business killer for companies.
“The chances of you recovering are next to zero,” Terlep said.
Terlep covered six industry and vehicle disruptions, including new vehicle technology, connected cars/big data, ADAS services and collaborations, consolidation, insurance technology and artificial intelligence.
Rapid advances in new technologies mean that manufacturers will be able to incorporate more glass throughout the vehicle, such as in windshields. And they can integrate more technology into the windows, which provides more opportunities for expansion. The Tesla Model X is a perfect example of a vehicle with an all-glass panoramic windshield that incorporates many sensors.
However, the sensors and glass technology don’t always translate well. Terlep said if head-up displays become more common, they will make windshield replacements more difficult.
Vehicle cybersecurity has also disrupted the auto industry, Terlep said. Hackers are able to remotely hack into a vehicle and can take over the infotainment system, air conditioning system and even control driving functions.
“Imagine if someone in North Korea can hack every Chrysler on the road and kill them,” Terlep said.
Additionally, today’s vehicles generate more data than at any time in history, and that will only increase, Terlep said. Virtually every manufacturer offers telematics, which will eventually change everything we know about the automotive and repair industry. Over-the-air (OTA) will also create entirely new businesses, Terlep added. More and more companies will emerge to provide remote services capable of updating vehicle systems and even repairing vehicles on the fly.
But when should a company start considering offering calibration services, and what are the best practices for doing so?
This was the topic of discussion at the seminar titled “Yay or Nay: Start a Separate Business for Calibration”. Panelists included Brandon Fisch, CEO of Drive Tech ADAS; Gary Hart, executive director of the Independent Glass Association; Barry Lintner, owner of Correct Calibration Services; and Jacques Navant, technical director at frogitout.
Panelists said that before a company offers benchmarking services, it must first assess the number of local competitors as well as service gaps.
“What will be the investment for equipment, location, employees, etc.? ? This is your required startup.
The number of jobs required to break even should also be considered, as well as why the company embarked on benchmarking.
Another question to ask: “Do I have enough time to devote to launching a new business while managing my existing auto glass business?”
Companies also need to build relationships with their competitors and convince them to do business with them. Success, according to the panelists, comes down to inspiring the people the company works with.
The next step of Auto Glass Week was a general education session on windshield repair and calibration. Navant, also a panelist for this seminar, reminded attendees that, just like snowflakes, no two repairs are the same.
Those present asked for advice on when a windshield repair is the right course of action. Panelists say any cracks or chips in or near the camera window will likely need to be replaced. Linda Rollinson, president of the National Windshield Repair Division (NWRD) recommended pre-scans for scenarios where the chip is near the camera.
She also talked about the benefits of communication with the customer, which in turn serves to educate and retain the customer for the future. For questions and concerns, panelists directed the audience to the NWRD webpage.
“It’s happening with most vehicles on the road right now,” says Navant. “Don’t be left behind.”
Then there was an introduction to the recently updated Auto Glass Safety Council (AGSC) standard, developed by the AGRSS Standards Committee,” said Navant.
“We fundamentally changed a lot of things about ADAS,” says Bob Beranek, chairman of this AGSC committee.
Beranek says the standard is based on the safety of customers, technicians themselves, and associated safety issues, as well as considerations that make businesses viable. As for the new standard, there will be a new section in the assessment category, as well as in the record keeping and education categories.
The final day session of Auto Glass Week saw coverage of new calibration legislation being introduced in some US states, including Virginia and Massachusetts.
Some of the language of the measures could have negative effects on small independent glass shops by reducing competition in the industry.
Automotive Glass Week continues on Thursday, September 15. Stay tuned for additional seminar coverage and all of our trade show coverage.