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SEMA Collision Industry Conference (CIC) in Las Vegas

Telematics, labour attraction and retention, education, data access, safety, emerging technologies, and parts and materials were all up for discussion at the CIC’s meeting in Las Vegas last November.

by David Ribeiro, senior industry advisor, Automotive Retailers Association

The most recent Collision Industry Conference (CIC) took place during the SEMA show in Las Vegas last fall. Only a brief summary of the pertinent subject matter discussed can be shared here, but one component with true benefit to the industry relates to the Society of Collision Repair Specialists’ (SCRS) blend study results, which will be shared in more detail at a future industry network meeting. You do not want to miss that discussion. Industry stakeholders from around North America attend the CIC, which attempts to form consensus on various issues while being aware that all such findings are nonbinding and voluntarily accepted. The CIC is not a trade association.

The following topics received attention at the conference.


Imbedded in vehicles today, the reality of telematics is that there are multiple ways that it is being used. This includes crash detection (the onset) and claims management (this is a stretch). What is known is:

  • End-users want the data to access premiums and first notice of loss (FNOL) to mitigate costs.
  • OEMs want the data for brand retention, certified networks, parts usage, and to get closer to the consumer at the time of need to create an exceptional experience.
  • Shops want the data to blueprint the repair and for validation for inclusive and billable items. Long-term shops will need it to determine the state of charge for EVs (i.e. you cannot easily move a dead vehicle).

What does telematics look like today? Right now, we have iPhone crash detection compatibility (iPhone 14 and iPhone watch). If you are in an accident and not responsive after 10 seconds, it will send a message to emergency services. What does this mean for the industry today? Shops could potentially integrate it into their own store apps (appointments, images, etc…). It is known that customers with hi-tech vehicles will be “hi-tech” customers.

Talent Pool & Education

Here are some good reminders. Your company should examine its website, as this digital platform is where your potential employees will go first. It needs to have appropriate content to demonstrate why this industry is wonderful. Your business should have a brand identity and a recruitment strategy. Communication is key as you are promoting your culture, history, etc. New talent needs to be able to see their future at your company and feel appreciated. Be involved in your community, as new employees want to be involved in their local community.

Data Access, Privacy & Security

In Canada, we are a bit more protected from this than in other countries, as we have Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA) requirements to strip individual identification components from material being transferred from your systems. However it is a good reminder that you should be aware of what you share (and with whom), and how you share it. This is about getting the right data to the right person at the right time. Consider the data that you are sharing with:

  • CSI companies
  • Integrated partners
  • Scan Tools
  • Database warehouses
  • Anything that has a manual data input

Periodic Vehicle Safety Inspections

Multiple studies have demonstrated that vehicle safety inspection programs significantly decrease traffic accidents and injuries. A Carnegie Mullen Study measured results going back 44 years and looked at the effectiveness of safety inspections and any correlations. These inspections included post repair, periodic vehicle safety, registration/transfer, and courtesy inspections.

Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) have created a new environment/culture for OEM and/or scan procedures. The technology is evolving so fast that industry will need more equipment to keep vehicles safe on the road.

Emerging Technologies

Industry will need to plug the skills gap due to the pace of change in electric vehicle (EV) and ADAS to ensure we have a workforce adequately qualified to provide the essential service, maintenance, and repair. Disconnecting and reconnecting items create certain challenges, as we can no longer “see” the resulting issues. Parts now need initializing or programming, and technicians need to be aware of the issues created by this process. 

Today’s technician needs a team, as one tech can no longer do the repair from A-Z. Techs now do specific aspects. Each vehicle needs to be benched and measured. Spanesi has confirmed that six out of 10 cars are missing damage or removal time to access repairs (USA study). Departments now complete pre-measurements/diagnostics to remove failures down the repair process, otherwise you could compromise a system. Blue printing needs to be aware or ahead of all the activities that are required for completion to achieve full repairs and calibration.

Parts & Materials

A blend study was conducted to determine if it takes more, less, or the same amount of time to complete a blend as a full panel paint. It is important to note that the three main estimating platforms confirm 50% of their refinish labour is provided for Stage 2 and 3 blends. The study involved the five main paint firms, and their most experienced trainers completing paint and blends on 54 new and undamaged Ford doors and fenders (most appraised truck in USA).

It is important to note that each estimating platform has different paint times and operations included.  This was not a time study but a comparison between refinish operations; the purpose of the study was not challenging their paint times, just the percentage or tracking of administrative steps. 

The conclusions of this study indicated that blending, on average, takes 31.59% more time than a full refinish, rather than the 50% less time allocated in the three estimating systems. The findings suggest the contention that blending a panel should not be allocated less time than a full refinish panel is well founded. The study results conclude that the existing 50% formula may not be an accurate representation of the comparison between the two tasks. The implication is that a reduction of refinish values reduces compensation for both labour and materials. The request is for estimating systems to re-evaluate their blend formula. See details about the study he