The consumer world may be obsessed with virtual reality games and experiences, but in the automotive field, Bosch Automotive Service Solutions is finding a place for augmented reality technology to help technicians work faster and explain repairs more easily to consumers. This isn’t a far-off dream for sci-fi fans. At the 2016 Automotive Aftermarket Parts Expo (AAPEX), Bosch said it expects to bring the futuristic technology to the aftermarket in 2017.
Augmented reality uses computer-aided design (CAD) and imposes it on another field. A property manager might use it to see behind the walls of apartments in a high rise building to look for plumbing or electrical lines. Bosch is taking computer-generated, three-dimensional images of the inner workings of a vehicle and projecting them onto the surface of the vehicle.
Standing next to a Range Rover, Rob Butz, director of business development and technical information services for Bosch, points a tablet toward the passenger side of the SUV like he’s shooting a photograph. It’s as if this vehicle has just arrived at a tire dealership and gone through a typical entrance check: diagnostic trouble codes were collected, tire pressure and tread depth were measured, and battery strength was calculated. That data is collected on a computer server or cloud, and with augmented reality, it’s sent to the tablet so a technician or service writer can project the results onto the driver’s vehicle.
On Butz’s tablet screen, and on a larger standalone screen set up for the demonstration, green, yellow, and red markers appear near the tires. The green markers show no problems, and red ones are indicators of something that needs attention. Clicking on the red marker shows the problem is either a wheel speed sensor or the bearing. If the job required an additional diagnostic test, the screen could show which connector to use to perform that next test.
Once the information is captured, augmented reality can help the technician make the repair. Any relevant information related to the procedure is a click away. “An experienced technician may not want to see the full procedure, but they can augment the tool they’d need and the torque spec. But for a novice technician, they can do a step-by-step through the procedure,” Butz said.
It prompts the technician to first remove the lug nuts, the wheel, all the way to the point of installing a new wheel bearing. “Through studies we have found, especially on the training side, to visualize it on the actual product your retention rate is at its highest.” It also eliminates the sometimes confusing translation from two-dimensional drawings on a computer screen or in a manual to the real-life product in the repair bay, Butz said.
“It helps visualize where things are on the product, and procedures of how you’d do the repair. A technician can get a view of something they typically couldn’t see until they tear apart the car,” Butz said. “What we’re trying to do here is create a more efficient environment to allow them to repair a vehicle faster, or to help educate their customers.”
For the past five years Bosch has used this technology with its original equipment customers. “We’re here at AAPEX to try to figure out how this fits into the aftermarket,” Butz said. Bosch has created a platform to manage the data and deliver it. “One of the challenges we have is that the CAD data normally lies with the OEM, so we have to find ways to enable access to that.”
On the sales side, the technology can help explain to a customer why a repair might cost $1,500. They can watch animation that shows all the steps needed to complete the work. They can see where the repair area is, and what other parts of the vehicle it touches. Augmented reality also could help upsell accessories, such as wheels. A salesman could click through countless styles and colors and show the options on the vehicle. Butz said the same could be done with tires. The benefit is “having that interaction with the customer.”
If augmented reality still feels far off, AAPEX provided plenty of other products applicable to the work in tire dealers’ service bays today.Bright lights from Philips
Style and performance are the combined touted benefits of the new Xenon CrystalVision ultra bulbs, which Lumileds, a subsidiary of Royal Philips, unveiled at AAPEX to coordinate with their November launch. The replacement bulbs produce a brighter, whiter light to replace standard D2R and D2S bulbs. Aubry Baugh, marketing communications manager for Philips said, “We picked D2R and D2S because those are the most popular HID bulbs.”
Manager SE by Mitchell 1 gets two big upgrades
The Manager SE system by Mitchell 1 rolled out two big advancements for any dealership that does repairs, one related to passenger cars, and the other for commercial trucks. Toyota Motor Corp. has incorporated its Toyota Active Recall notification system into Manager SE. It’s the only shop management system embedded with the automaker’s recall alerts, and it’s a way for the car maker to reach more vehicle owners when there’s a recall, especially owners of older vehicles that are no longer serviced at Toyota dealerships. Ben Johnson, director of product management for Mitchell 1, said the alerts apply to all Toyota brands, including Scion and Lexus. On the commercial end, Manager SE is now available with a full truck series to help shops diagnose and repair all makes of Class 4-8 trucks.
Denso unlocks new inspection tool
Denso Products and Services Americas Inc. has created a new vehicle inspection tool, VehicleMRI. The web-based application will be available in 2017 and offers a quick but comprehensive diagnostic check of a vehicle’s systems. It looks for out-of-date software, tests the battery, and evaluates hundreds of hidden data points to find problems that have yet to trigger an engine light. “It creates a series of reports,” said Dan Mejaly, senior vice president of sales, marketing, strategic planning, and operations. There’s a summary for the vehicle owner, and a detailed report for the service garage, all of which can be viewed online and saved in a downloadable file.
Wix debuts new technology for heavy-duty filters
The latest products from Wix Filters are designed for heavy-duty, off-road vehicles in a mine, construction site, or agricultural environment. The company unveiled NanoPro technology on 33 part numbers, and said it filters fine and ultra-fine dust with better efficiency. Donald Chilton, director of product management, said using the technology on air filters hopefully is only the beginning. “We’re going to see what we can do with oil, fuel. We’re looking to build a whole portfolio around that. We’ve got one fuel filter now for Dodge trucks that has NanoPro media. That will continue to evolve and feed new products.”
SKF expands U-joint coverage
The universal joints manufactured by SKF USA Inc. are now available for more automotive, truck, agricultural, and industrial applications, said Brian Jungmann, automotive communications manager for SKF. “The whole line is refreshed.” And the company’s catalog has been improved to make part lookup easier and more precise. The car, light truck, and heavy-duty truck products all feature a case-hardened forged steel cross and cups, and the high performance Brute Force line is solid to give it extra strength.Coast flashlight has USB port
Coast Products Inc.’s new HP314R LED rechargeable flashlight has a light distance of more than half a mile. The dual powered flashlight works with either lithium or alkaline batteries. The company’s exclusive Flex Charge Dual Power Rechargeable System and Pro-Tek Charging Port is built into the new HP314R. The flashlight’s tail cap pops up to reveal a micro-USB port. The rechargeable battery pack includes a USB port for recharging other devices, such as cell phones.
YouTube channel for batteries
Johnson Controls Inc. unveiled “The Battery Shop,” a YouTube channel of how-to videos on car battery installation, maintenance, and care. Some videos will be aimed at consumers and others will be for technicians. Dale Gospodarek, vice president of marketing and strategy for aftermarket U.S. and Canada, said videos for technicians will address vehicles with complex battery installations and vehicles that require resets to recognize a new battery.
NGK adds ignition coils
NGK Spark Plugs (U.S.A.) Inc. unveiled its new ignition coils line that covers nearly 96% of vehicles in operation in the United States. The company said the new NGK Ignition Coils line includes over 450 ignition coil part numbers for late-model domestic and import vehicles. “We are very excited with the launch of NGK’s full line of premium ignition coils,” said David Boer, vice president of marketing. “This program rounds out our ignition offering, allowing us to offer the highest quality ignition components to the market.”Mahle kicks off contest
Mahle Aftermarket Inc. will award a custom-built, twin-turbocharged Ford Mustang from Petty’s Garage to the winning technician in its new “Drive with the Original” promotion. Legendary driver Richard Petty helped Mahle executives kick off the contest at AAPEX. “Drive with the Original” celebrates the recent launch of the Mahle Original brand. Mahle said more than 2,400 instant prizes will be awarded, including Richard Petty Driving Experiences, autographed Richard Petty signature Charlie 1 Horse cowboy hats, autographed No. 43 die-cast model cars, insulated tumbler mugs, and baseball hats. The contest ends Oct. 1, 2017.Continental expands coverage
Continental Commercial Vehicles and Aftermarket announced new applications and expanded coverage, including a new line of VDO blower motors for direct replacement on modern utility vans. In addition, VDO OE replacement parts are also available for power door lock actuator applications. The company also added diesel fuel modules for late model Dodge Ram truck applications to its VDO OEM Direct Parts program. Tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) Redi-Sensor application coverage will be expanded by 3 million vehicles in the spring of 2017, according to Dave Maclay, head of product management for electric motors and TPMS. The company said it reached a milestone in July 2016 with the production of its 200 millionth TPMS sensor.
New products from ACDelco
ACDelco’s augmented reality demonstrations showcased products in highly interactive displays. Among featured products were the new Advantage Bearings line with 160 part numbers, Coated Rotors line with 534 part numbers, and Professional Coated Brake Calipers line with 54 part numbers. The company also highlighted a new line of GM OE collision parts for the aftermarket that includes door hinges, rear view mirrors, and tailgate hinges as well as a line of GM OE variable valve timing solenoids for 2000-2017 model year GM vehicles.
New scan tool from CanDo
CanDo International Inc. said its new HD ProTab is the only scan tool for Class 4-8 trucks and off-highway equipment that requires no extra software or connectors. The company had several other new products in its booth, including the Batt+ battery reset and relearn tool for small shops and do-it-yourselfers. The company said it is the only manufacturer to offer a tool that performs battery resets on all major brands from BMW/Mini and Jaguar to Ford, General Motors, and more.
Homecoming for Victor Reinz brand
Dana Corp. held a “homecoming” for the Victor Reinz brand. The company is the sole distributor of its Victor Reinz gasket portfolio in North America as of Nov. 1, 2016. For the past decade, Victor Reinz gaskets were distributed in North America under an exclusive agreement with Mahle Aftermarket Inc. Dana said it remained involved in manufacturing, product development, and technical support throughout this period and handled distribution to all other markets outside of North America. “Dana is the true and original manufacturer of Victor Reinz gaskets, and by returning to our role as direct distributor, Dana is perfectly positioned to more closely connect customers and end-users with engineering and technical experts,” said Doug Wolma, vice president and general manager of the Dana Aftermarket Group. The initial rollout of the Victor Reinz portfolio in North America includes more than 3,300 part numbers.
Carter refuels its brand
Cleveland, Ohio-based Crowne Group displayed new packaging and a new brand promise, “Fueling You Forward,” for Carter Fuel Systems. Crowne Group has been investing in the fuel pump portfolio and increasing coverage since acquiring the company in 2013, according to Danielle Orlando, director of marketing. New product features increase the life and performance of Carter brand fuel pumps. A key innovation is CleanScreen multilayer filtration technology, which adds 40% more dirt-holding capacity.Tenneco unveils mobile trailer
Tenneco Inc. introduced its “Tenneco Experience” mobile product and technology exhibit to AAPEX visitors. The 53-foot trailer contains hands-on exhibits on Tenneco’s clean air and ride performance OE technologies for global vehicle manufacturers as well as the latest Monroe ride control and Walker emissions control products for the North American aftermarket.
“We wanted to provide a venue to show the new technologies to technicians and counter people so they know what’s coming down the pipeline and how our OE expertise can benefit the aftermarket,” said Denise Hanefeld, brand and marketing communications manager. The “Tenneco Experience” trailer will visit OE and aftermarket customers in the coming months. A shop can request a visit through a local Tenneco sales representative. ■