Advanced Driver Assistance Systems: is Our Industry Ready?

When I first wrote down this month’s blog title, I thought to myself, I’ve seen that title roughly 500 times over the last half-decade. I decided to keep it because the question remains … is our industry ready for the added responsibility and accountability that comes with ADAS?  The answer to the question is “ready or not, it is here.”

The future is now in California.

Our industry has always struggled with any kind of change. The mostly independent make-up of the auto glass business, relatively low barriers of entry, and incomplete information has been a challenge since the business became a stand-alone industry. Best practices are slow to determine and adopt and in many cases are ignored. “This works better,” “I don’t have time to do it that way,” or “I’ve been doing it this way for years” are all hallmarks. Even those who are open to change and want to “do it right” often feel road blocked by lack of information, or simply not having the resources to make the investments necessary to learn and change.

Our industry’s history is littered with examples, from improper adhesive use, to clinging to outdated tools and techniques – we are, generally, slow to adopt new ways. The traditional risks have been large, but seem isolated. We have been using the same 20/20 video for decades to highlight adhesive failure. People have been hurt. Lawsuits have come and gone. Careers have been shortened due to repetitive use injuries to shoulders, backs and necks. We don’t take these lightly, but in the back of many people’s minds, the idea that they are very infrequent and their business is immune often overrides the risks.

ADAS Is Different!

Our traditional risks have been influenced by the simple fact that they either require many “really bad things” to happen, or take months to years to truly manifest. Improper adhesive system use can result in something as simple as a leak (when it rains, or at a car wash), to full adhesive failure (in a specific type of catastrophic accident with multiple factors all happening). Antiquated tools and pinchweld damage often result in rust (months or years later).  Poor techniques lead to injuries (often years later from repetitive use).

ADAS features bring an immediate and huge risk to every auto glass shop. In contrast to traditional risks, failure to properly install, calibrate or recalibrate a system can lead to a worse-case scenario by something as simple as a customer using their cruise control.  Waivers will not work – and even if they did, we are better than that.  Our ethical responsibility as human beings is to provide a safe installation.

We’re dealing with a world where a few millimeters of error can equal yards in performance on systems that are used and relied on daily. Our actions or omissions can literally be the difference between life and death. We don’t have the luxury to pick and choose which processes to follow or ignore. We can’t ignore the manufacturer’s instructions regarding what environmental conditions need to exist or when to use which repair method – because they don’t fit our current business model. We can’t simply fall back on “I just don’t touch the camera” as a reason to ignore technical service bulletins.  We have to adapt and evolve today!

Unlike the adhesive industry, which has done a great job with education and training for using its products, calibration is in it’s infancy as it relates to our industry. It has evolved and there are several good systems available, but there is no “one size fits all” solution. Every vehicle manufacturer can require different management. Even the auto makers are training on how to manage these systems in the aftermarket. We have to be diligent, willing to research, willing to accept our own limitations when necessary, and above all, willing to change our businesses to fit our ultimate goal of safe and profitable installations.

In my next blog, I will detail the types of calibrations and some of the specific pitfalls our industry faces as we address this new (and exciting) technology. One thing is certain – it is a challenge that is here to stay, and will get exponentially more widespread as ADAS becomes standard equipment.

The time to change, learn and develop is now.

2 thoughts on “Advanced Driver Assistance Systems: is Our Industry Ready?

  1. Thank you Jaques for your insight and honesty about our trade. I am happy to be in the front car on this rollercoaster ride. We as an industry are seeing a foundational shift in the way we perform our jobs! The windshield now is directly connected to the computers that control many systems of our modern automobiles. I also believe that auto glass companies and technicians will need to take new technology and new training seriously to continue to be viable in the market place. Oliver Quack

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