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Replacing Chrome With Advanced Specialty Parts – Part 2

POSTED February 6, 2020

Part 2: An interview about the use of advanced specialty materials in the collision repair industry with Douglas Craig, Field Technical Expert, Lord Corporation

The use of advanced specialty materials in the manufacturing of auto parts has enabled great strides in safety and improved emission standards of the US automobile industry. With the use of various composites, high strength steel and aluminum alloys, the strength and durability of auto parts has improved with significant weight reduction. This does not come without a cost to consumers, however. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTS) Deputy Administrator Heidi King told Congress in June of 2019, “Today, we are facing an affordability crisis in the new car market. The average price of a new vehicle exceeds $37,000, and new vehicle prices have risen 29% in the past decade, while median family income grew only 6% during that period.” Concerns are growing that consumers cannot afford the benefits of safer, fuel efficient cars and are deferring purchase. For those who do purchase new automobiles, the future of the insurance claim and repair process may also impact the purse in ways yet to be fully realized. manufacturingThe use of advanced specialty materials in the manufacturing of auto parts has enabled great strides in safety and improved emission standards of the US automobile industry. With the use of various composites, high strength steel and aluminum alloys, the strength and durability of auto parts has improved with significant weight reduction. This does not come without a cost to consumers, however. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTS) Deputy Administrator Heidi King told Congress in June of 2019, “Today, we are facing an affordability crisis in the new car market. The average price of a new vehicle exceeds $37,000, and new vehicle prices have risen 29% in the past decade, while median family income grew only 6% during that period.” Concerns are growing that consumers cannot afford the benefits of safer, fuel efficient cars and are deferring purchase. For those who do purchase new automobiles, the future of the insurance claim and repair process may also impact the purse in ways yet to be fully realized. 

The use of advanced specialty materials in manufacturing auto parts raises concerns that consumers cannot afford the benefits of safer, fuel efficient cars and are deferring purchases.

A recent interview with Douglas Craig, Field Technical Expert at Lord Corporation, highlighted the costly impact the use of advanced specialty parts could have on collision repairs in the future. Douglas Craig’s vast knowledge of advanced specialty material usage in the auto industry, and its impact upon insurance claims, results from 3 decades of experience in the collision and repair sector. Career highlights include management of a high-volume collision repair facility for Auto Excel Collision, acting Mopar liaison with Chrysler Vehicle Engineering and the Collision Repair Industry, as Collision Repair Manager at Fiat Chrysler, and currently the Field Technical Expert for Fusor Collision Repair Adhesives and previously managing the Structural Adhesives Technology (SAT) Applications Engineering Group for Lord. He has been a member and 2-term chair of the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) Collision Repair Committee and a member of the SAE Service Development Steering Committee. 

www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/nhtsa-deputy-administrator-king-congress-safe-vehicles-rule-will-put-more-americans

Replace Over Repair

Craig cautions that “every collision repair job becomes 500 decisions” as the collision repair specialist prepares a work plan. Understanding the manner that parts were originally constructed plays into the repair process. “Newer alloys are more subject to stress cracking…each acts differently.” There are new concerns that a “technician isn’t going to know all of the forming that the part went through and the stresses that it has already gone through,” Craig explains. How was the part manufactured – was it stamped or cast, was it welded – all play into the ability and complexity of repair. As each advance specialty material has specific repair instructions, and each manufacturer has its own specifications for repair, (that are not available freely to repair shops), the complexity of repair rises. Special training, new equipment and dedicated environments are required to work with these materials, often emulating aerospace repair more so than automobile. Craig also notes that new advanced driver assistance systems, or ADAS, impact the ability to repair parts as well. Due to location of sensors underneath the fascia, even cosmetic repairs of advanced specialty parts call for full replacement, as repair might impact functionality of the technology. Thus, between increased labor costs and ability and complexity of repair, Craig speculates that part replacement will rise.

Total Loss Declaration 

As vehicles depreciate, the likelihood of total loss declaration rises when facing collision repair. As noted by NHTSA Deputy Administrator King, the rising price tag of new models has extended length of ownership of older vehicles. The aging automobile often necessitates total loss declaration when insurers assess the cost to repair against remaining value. With the addition of advanced specialty parts, this may be accelerated total loss on newer vehicles, with the higher cost of repair and parts on the horizon, cautions Craig.

The Future is Bright 

Despite the woes of repair, Craig sees a bright future for auto owners and insurers as he is convinced that along with these enhancements in technology and advanced specialty materials, eventually, we will all be driving safer, smarter automobiles. “Yes, it’s getting much more complicated, but as advanced driving assistance becomes the norm, the human has to work that much harder to enter into a collision and overall loss frequency has to decrease.” Craig notes that the strides the auto industry has made has saved lives, reducing medical and liability claims in the process. Craig closes with this thought, “Repairing a car at any cost is a whole lot less than healing or losing a human.”

Part 1 of this series offers an overview of advanced specialty materials

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PartsTrader Team - AUTHOR