Over recent months vehicle manufacturers have been introducing Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) at an increasing pace. Over 10% of vehicles are already fitted with ADAS systems and this is set to grow to 40% of all vehicles on UK roads by 2020.
This is great news for improving safety on our roads but there is significant concern at the lack of consideration manufacturers have given to the maintenance of these systems, even in their own dealer networks. It is clear that vehicle manufacturers need to start talking to insurers and the aftermarket without delay.
The rapidly growing need for ADAS calibration
The issue of ADAS camera calibration is here and now. National Windscreens has already undertaken over 4,000 calibrations and the numbers are growing rapidly.
More and more vehicle manufacturers are using ADAS to ensure their vehicles meet the highest European safety ratings. Changes were made to ENCAP safety ratings earlier this year meaning any new vehicle wanting to be granted the prestigious 5 star rating requires two separate ADAS systems, with Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) and Lane Departure Warning (LDW).
The main cause for concern however remains the apparent lack of planning that has been undertaken
by the vehicle manufacturers around calibration of the forward-facing cameras found on or around the vehicle’s front windscreen. These cameras are a core part of most ADAS systems and if the camera is not correctly calibrated, after a windscreen replacement for example, then the ADAS systems may not work correctly
In the aftermarket it has become apparent that maintaining vehicle safety standards and customer service at acceptable levels relies on the repairer being able to undertake the camera calibration at the same time as the windscreen is replaced. Yet this remains one of the core areas lacking consideration by the vehicle manufacturers.
Our research shows that almost 75% of senior decision makers in the motor claims sector consider it likely that they will insist on ADAS calibration being undertaken at the same time as a replacement.
With the vast majority of vehicles requiring calibration in workshop conditions, based on manufacturers’ recommendations, it is clear that a national network of combined fitting and calibration centres is the only way such a service can be provided.
Providing regional calibration centres, as opposed to a national network, clearly means that service and safety cannot be maintained at acceptable levels following a windscreen replacement. There will be an inevitable delay between any replacement being undertaken and the calibration then being undertaken at a separate location.
This delay and inconvenience for the motorist will increase the likelihood of the vehicle being driven without a calibrated camera and accordingly with safety systems not functioning correctly. It will also undoubtedly increase costs and administration with the replacement and calibration being undertaken at separate locations at different times.
The UK windscreen replacement sector is structured very differently to mainland Europe. In the UK the majority of windscreen replacements are undertaken by mobile technicians whereas in Europe, workshop-based replacement remains most popular.
This means that the overwhelming trend in the windscreen replacement sector over recent years has been to close branches but National Windscreens has continuously bucked this trend, maintaining 108 fitting and calibration centres throughout the UK. Combined with a £1 million investment in equipment and training this year alone, the company claims to be a world leader for ADAS calibration.
We have always believed that fast, right first time service requires a national network of fitting centres and that is why we have gone against the trend in this sector. The rapid growth in demand for ADAS camera calibration in workshop conditions at the same time as windscreen replacement certainly vindicates this decision.
Keeping pace with the increasing demand for ADAS calibration
With insurers putting ‘reduction of accident frequency’ and ‘reducing whiplash claims’ as the two most important benefits of seeing more ADAS systems on our roads there can be no doubting the importance and impact of this technology. However, these benefits can only be realised if the aftermarket is equipped to maintain these systems.
Over 50% of insurers indicated that they would view the repairer as liable if the ADAS camera has not been calibrated correctly and the motorist has not been informed of this requirement. With calibration required not just after windscreen replacement but in situations ranging from changing a tyre brand, to wheel alignment or an accident, this clearly affects the whole aftermarket.
Some of the major issues we now face
Is the driver aware that their vehicle has ADAS? Are they aware the camera needs calibrating after replacing the windscreen? Is the vehicle dealer aware?
Calibration can be done in 4 ways. There is NO one system for every vehicle manufacturer.
Does the dealer have calibration equipment? Do bodyshops have the calibration equipment? Do glass replacement companies have the calibration equipment?
Without clear answers the continued safe operation of ADAS systems may be in jeopardy in many cases.
National Windscreens are working closely with Hella Gutmann, the ADAS calibration equipment manufacturer, to ensure latest vehicle data is always available. Our objective is to allow motorists to drive away after just one visit to their local fitting centre with the assurance that work has been carried out to the required safety standards.
Windscreen mounted cameras also add to the number of windscreen models that are available for the same vehicle, adding to the complexity of selecting the correct glass for the job. National Windscreens have already tackled this by developing a unique piece of software, ‘Partscheck’. This correctly identifies the exact piece of replacement glass needed for a specific vehicle and if it has a windscreen mounted camera fitted.
It is clearly imperative to make sure any workshop carrying out automotive glass work is calibrating correctly and providing a certificate to prove it, helping to ensure our roads are even safer places for everyone.
National Windscreens has worked with Thatcham Research on developing a code of practice designed to help tackle these issues. Issued in July 2016 the code of practice determines the calibration process, specifies the advice to be given to customers (pre- and post-windscreen replacement) and requires the issue of a successful calibration certificate. If calibration is not successfully completed the code of practice requires the motorist to be advised that the ADAS systems may not be relied upon to work correctly. This is a big step forwards but there is still much work to be done to ensure the whole industry is reacting appropriately to this latest technology.
What about the issues now faced by insurers?
Our research shows 58% of insurers do not believe motorists will end up paying greater premiums and excesses because of ADAS safety technology costs. However, if this technology significantly reduces accidents and whiplash claims then will there be big pressure for insurers to pass any savings onto motorists?
There are many other questions to answer. Improved safety is expected to reduce claims value but how does this compare to the increased cost of repairing or replacing damaged ADAS equipment? Who will meet the cost of calibration? Will it be necessary to introduce approved calibration providers? Will mandatory calibration be required and with what frequency?
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