GREAT STRIDES TOWARDS FULLY CONNECTED WORKSHOPS
The Bosch group and the Automotive Aftermarket division
Greater productivity and quality thanks to on-line access between diagnostic and workshop equipment: this is what the Automotive Aftermarket division of the German giant predicts for the future, owing, in part, to Sicam’s complete product range update
Final destination “connected workshops”: Bosch’s Automotive Aftermarket strategy could thus be summarized, marketed through its many brands such as Beissbarth, Sicam, OTC and Robinair, clearly aiming at connecting diagnostic and control devices as well as a number of garage tools and equipment. Whether internet is considered pervasive or not, it is clear that system integration and information exchange aimed at putting together the past and present profile of a vehicle undergoing maintenance represent the milestones of a technological development already taking place. For the German giant the goal is to take advantage of the proposal of a comprehensive solution, based on its already widespread communication protocol. On the other hand, connected workshops guarantee streamlined operations and a quicker workflow, greatly improving the overall service. Giulia Montanini, marketing manager of Bosch Automotive Service Solutions, says: “Connected workshops will become a well-established trend in the future. Integrated connectivity within the workshop will guarantee greater results in terms of efficiency and speed. Not to mention the advantage of knowing, through a data base which increases over time and is shared over the network, the history as well as the current status of any vehicle in real time”.
Clients, connected and informed
The benefits, of course, will extend to the clientele as a whole. “Connectivity – echoes Roberto Nicolini, senior global product manager of Bosch Automotive Service Solutions – allows both client and workshop the opportunity to visualize the vehicle’s maintenance history, every time the vehicle is brought into the workshop. All information concerning previous maintenance and/or repair work is visualized on monitors and, within the connected workshop framework we are creating, all the data available is sent to all connected equipment in real time, including tire changers, diagnostic equipment, A/C recharging stations as well as TPMS management systems”. Thus eliminating the need of entering the registration plate details of the vehicle in order to set up the working cycle of the workshop’s equipment, as well as those needed for programming, as in the case of TPMS sensor substitutions.
In addition, a quicker wheel alignment diagnosis, a common preliminary operation performed free of charge on vehicles upon entering the service center, produce reports that are more complete thanks to the opportunity of integrating the service history of the vehicle; garage equipment connection speeds up later operations if the customer chooses to have a thorough diagnosis and is then willing to proceed with all relative maintenance or repair operations.
Set-up data are instantly communicated to all connected devices, from tire changers to balancers, and everything is immediately ready to operate. And once the connection is made, there is an app to keep everything handy. A further line of development, that falls within the connected workshop framework, is represented by augmented reality as a support for the specialist.
Virtual reality, as real as can be
An eloquent example of the possibilities of such a system was shown during the last Autopromotec event by the Beissbarth team, with a new augmented reality software dedicated to wheel alignment operations. It is sufficient to focus, with the camera of a tablet, on the mechanical part subject to repair or maintenance work (in this specific case steering arms and heads) to obtain a video, superimposed on the image, with all the relevant information, from the necessary equipment to on-screen instructions on how to proceed, in the form of additional photos and videos, next to texts and three-dimensional objects simulating, as in the case of a wrench operating on the steering heads, the whole operation.
Furthermore, the operator can request remote assistance from the specialists of the service center that Bosch has included in its portfolio of online services. In parallel with digital developments, the Automotive Aftermarket division is investing time and resources on the production of workshop equipment. Particularly noteworthy is the new generation of tire changers marketed under the group’s various brands exploiting a totally updated common platform called Phoenix. "It has been created - says Montanini - to reduce the design complexity of the product and optimize the manufacturing process. It is a strongly flexible modular platform, thanks to which we sharply reduced the time-to-market period, increasing production capacity at the same time, reaching the 2 thousand machines per year production threshold during 2014”.
Intuitive, practical and safe
The new family of Sicam tire changers, such as the Falco Evo 600, 622 and 628 stems from the Phoenix platform, and the same can be said of the latest line of A/C recharging systems. “ The latter being – stated Nicolini – a frequently required service even in tire retail outlets. And so it goes for diagnostic operations on the complete wheel-brake-suspension unit of a vehicle, something that has become paramount”. After all, both traditional vehicle repair workshops as well as tire dealers are acquiring new skills and expertise, exploring new business opportunities and offering services that were once not even considered. “ Since working in a safer, comfortable environment remains paramount – notes Nicolini - the primary concept behind the complete renewal of the tire changer range is ergonomics. This does not mean, however, looking only at the high end of the market, but making the equipment available to most operators now on the market maintaining the same conceptual approach”. The most recent example was provided by the new Ergo Control system, which allows performing bead breaking operations without the use of a pedal, but rather using a manual approach to the work, guaranteeing that the operator maintains a correct posture at all times. Speaking about wheel balancing machines, the Bosch group, including all its different brands, have embraced the touchless philosophy. “We are working on new optical reading systems able to measure the wheel without contact. Within 2016 we will launch on the market a new generation of wheel balancing machines with innovative characteristics”.
SICAM TIRE CHANGERS, THE PRINCIPLE OF ERGONOMICS
Among this year’s new products, a prominent place is occupied by Sicam 62X tire changers. What makes them really “smart” is not connectivity, though already provided for in the near future where tire retail outlets and economies of scale will put them within reach of most, but rather its ergonomic contents. The leverless technology of the Falco Evo family, with model 600 joined by the new 622 and 628 (with external clamping for wheels ranging between 22” and 28”), boasts a pneumatic bead breaking system studied to guarantee a correct working position besides full working safety. The operator positions himself in front of the wheel, and, rather than pushing on the traditional pedal, a bead-breaking lever is activated. The Ergo Control mechanism, this is the name of the system, guarantees maximum maneuverability and the possibility to manage the pneumatic back pole even with a finger. The turntable has two speeds, and electronics ensure a higher torque and a gentle start-up, while the clamps have been designed to make it easier to clamp different wheels.