Lining up profits with alignment: Service segment's role in saving consumer's tire dollars takes on added importance
A tire dealer's annual profit from alignment work is $47,373, according to Modern Tire Dealer's 2006 Automotive Service and Service Equipment Study. The average ticket price for an alignment was $63, and dealers did an average of 83 alignments per month, the study found. Total alignment service sales by tire dealers totaled $1.364 billion.
"With fuel costs and tire prices so high, people are becoming more conscious of the role alignment plays in keeping tire costs down," says Mike McCoy, Bee Line Co.'s regional sales manager. "Alignments are becoming more important to consumers -- and dealers are turning alignments into profit centers."
Presented here is some of the latest alignment technology. Look for the equipment on display at the upcoming Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas.
ACCU Industries Inc. (Accu-turn),(800) 551-2228, www.accu-turn.com
Accu-turn's model 2400CCD 8-Sensor Alignment System utilizes state-of-the-art technology and components and offers fast, easy and reliable results every time, the company says.
This economical alignment system offers standard hardware such as a non-proprietary computer with color printer, 17-inch flat screen (19-inch on wireless model 2400CCDW) LCD monitor, wheel sensors with integrated keypad, wheel clamps with a 10-inch to 26-inch range, and milled steel turntables.
Model 2400CCD's software is easy to follow with step-by-step graphics to help the technician achieve quick and precise alignments. Toe calibration and wheel sensor self-diagnostics guarantee constant accuracy, the company says. Procedure warning screens ensure proper steps and techniques are being used. The technician has a choice when measuring run-out compensations. The vehicle’s wheel can be either raised or on the lift using rolling run-out.
The 2400CCDW Wireless Alignment System features Bluetooth wireless technology for uninterrupted communications.
BEE LINE CO., (800) 728-7828, www.beeline-co.com
Bee Line's LC 6000 Series laser-guided computer alignment gauging system features a built-in calibration fixture, electronic tube leveling, single and/or simultaneous run-out capabilities and live toe, camber and caster readings during adjustments. The system also includes the following:
* Microsoft Windows-based software with the simple-to-use Bee Line WindSpeed software that streamlines workflow and features easy jump-through capabilities, the company says. The operator has the ability to customize screen flow, print data in color and run additional programs.
* wireless wheel units, which use spread spectrum frequency hopping to eliminate interference. Normal battery life exceeds 12 hours and there is no loss of data if batteries are low.
* a re-designed, rugged, shop-friendly cabinet design. The system comes with a color printer or interfaces with any standard printer. The printer is stored in the cabinet on a slide-out shelf which adjusts to any height. It comes with or can accommodate any standard tower PC. A battery backup is included.
The company's LC 6000 is fast, accurate and PC-based, which means PCs and printers can be purchased off the shelf and technicians can quickly service the units themselves if there is a problem. The laser-based units can be calibrated in less than five minutes, and a technician can "gauge-out" a truck in less than 15 minutes, says McCoy. The unit has video assistance built into the software, so it can guide the technician completely through gauging out the truck.
The LC 6000 system was designed for heavy-duty trucks, but also does a great job on two-wheel alignment for passenger cars and pickup trucks, says McCoy.
"With the LC 6000 in conjunction with the Bee Line rear axle alignment system, it gauges out all three axles and provides readings and printouts of all axles."
BEISSBARTH USA, (888) 255-8665, www.beissbarth.com
Beissbarth's touchless wheel alignment system eliminates the need for clamps and wheel adapters that can damage sensors and expensive rims. The system makes alignment tear-down obsolete and provides immediate vehicle evaluation, says the company. It displays relevant measurements for tire wear and axle contact points within seconds of exiting the vehicle.
The system's Integrated Reference System (IRES) has four "touchless pods" (or T-Pods) that continuously see the position of the other T-Pods; therefore, placement of the sensor in relation to wheel position need not be exact.
The T-Pods utilize the Beissbarth CCD 8 sensor track system to form a 360 degree measurement field. In addition, the T-Pods have an integrated CCD Infra-red pendulum system for automatic recognition and correction of minimal inclinations of each T-Pod within the measurement bay for fast, accurate alignment.
The touchless system uses 7,200 LEDs with computer-controlled LED intensity so that sunlight and ambient light entering the work area do not interfere with the alignment process.
Beissbarth Oracle software works in a Windows XP Pro environment. It offers a clear, intuitive process and reduces operation time with a user-friendly format throughout all of the alignment stages.
The database has more than 20,000 vehicles going back as far as 1965 and includes video clips, drawings, and animations and supports more than 20 languages. Software updates with reference values can be installed around the clock via the Internet.
BEND-PAK / RANGER, (805) 933-9970, www.bendpak.com
The XR-12AE X-Rack scissors alignment lift by Bend-Pak is equipped with features such as an auto-leveling system, integrated rear slip-plates, full-floating turn plates, extendable approach ramps, drop-down front tire stops and full adjustable turntable pockets.
The X-Rack has a 12,000-pound lifting capacity and a long runway surface for accommodating roll-back alignment systems.
The lift has four heavy-duty hydraulic cylinders with built-in leveling controllers. An ergonomic power console combined with automatic safety locks provides simple and safe operation.
Optional accessories include an integrated airline kit and pneumatic rolling jacks.
HUNTER ENGINEERING CO., (800) 448-6848, www.hunter.com
The Hunter premium alignment system combines WinAlign alignment software and digital imaging alignment sensors to increase the productivity and profitability of any shop.
WinAlign alignment software contains a large vehicle information database as well as many adjustment and productivity features to speed up and simplify the alignment process.
The digital camera sensors speed alignments, reduce downtime and provide a higher return on investment. The four-camera system projects a wide field of view to continuously monitor wheel target position and orientation over a range of alignment lift heights. This eliminates the need for moving cameras and allows a technician to adjust the lift height to a comfortable working position without compromising the cameras' ability to monitor the targets.
SNAP-ON EQUIPMENT, (877) 482-4866, www.snaponequipment.com
John Bean ShortBay V3D wheel aligners have been improved and optimized for operation in a wider range of shops.
Before the introduction of ShortBay, smaller garages were limited to conventional wheel alignment technology because of the large amount of space required for the camera system in front of the vehicle lift, reports Jim Fish, director of marketing and product management.
Now, minimum space required by John Bean's V3D system in front of the turntable center has been reduced from 90 inches to 68.5 inches. A standard surface mount scissor lift with approach ramps and a V3D Imaging Aligner now can fit within a 24-foot bay.