ADAS drives new super centre strategy for National Windscreens

National Windscreens has announced the impending launch of its first super centre, based in Slough. The centre, which will open in April, is specifically built with the future of driver safety in mind and showcases a series of new initiatives focussed on continual improvement of the customer experience whilst adapting to the rapid changes in the automotive market. 

The Slough Super Centre development has been driven primarily by the increasing use of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) technology in modern vehicles and growing demand for calibration of these systems when a windscreen is replaced. The new centre will be used to trial various innovative offerings to assess future viability. These initiatives will be carefully monitored to help guide future development strategies at National Windscreens. 

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Rob Roberts, Technical Advisor at National Windscreens, calibrating a vehicle with ADAS technology 

Regional managing director, Mark Payne, comments: “We will be the first organisation in this sector to offer a bespoke fitting and calibration centre with customer hot desks plus eight fitting bays with dedicated ADAS hardware. One of the first initiatives to be trialled is fully electric courtesy vehicles. 

“We chose Slough as the location for our first UK super centre as it is a densely populated area and in close proximity to the UK's largest airport.” adds Mark. 

75% of vehicle manufacturers currently require their vehicles to undergo a static calibration of the ADAS, which means workshop conditions are required for the process. The workshop conditions are needed to guarantee a flat surface for the vehicle and facilitate the use of vehicle specific calibration panels and lasers to align the ADAS cameras and vehicle wheels. Only then can the ECU (Engine Control Unit) be instructed to recalibrate its ADAS.  

With a rapidly increasing number of vehicles featuring a combination of radars, LIDAR, sensors, and cameras that require calibration in order to ensure the safety systems are working as intended, the demand for a new style of super fitting and calibration centre is already huge. With Euro NCAP now requiring new vehicles to have at least 2 ADAS features, including AEB (automatic emergency barking), the need for calibration is growing at an accelerating rate. 

The Slough super centre is part of a new approach that is designed to meet the challenging aspects of ADAS and ensure a positive customer experience in the face of the significantly different approach now required for most windscreen replacements. 

Terry Liddard, Regional Director for the South, said: "A huge amount of planning and hard work has gone into creating and implementing the strategy that led to the flagship fitting centre in Slough. Windscreens are an integral part of the safety system for vehicles with ADAS, and the implications of vehicle calibration on the customer experience is increasing. This new super centre mirrors the shift in the automotive aftermarket."

Traditionally, 80% of the jobs completed by our technicians have been done through mobile fitting vans, with 20% done in the workshops. However, as the number of vehicles using ADAS technology increases, these percentages are predicted to change significantly with the majority being done in workshops. 

Shannon Dempsey, project manager for the Slough centre, said: "We are very excited to be closing in on the launch date. The team have worked incredibly hard to ensure that the centre provides a fantastic experience for both our customers and our technicians. We have invested heavily in the latest ADAS calibration technology in a much larger facility than that usually associated with the automotive glass repair and replacement sector."

"National Windscreens operates a continual improvement programme that is committed to understanding the fast-developing ADAS technology and its implications for all stakeholders. This is a critical feature of any strategy for providing a market leading one-stop windscreen replacement and calibration service," concludes Mark Payne.