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09/11/2020
Looking “inside” tomorrow’s vehicles

 Diagnostic equipment

 

The Automotive evolution taking place, demands for increasingly technological diagnostic tools

Nicoletta Ferrini

From breakdowns to system errors: cars are changing, and with them also the types of breakdowns we can expect. As a result, techniques and tools needed not only to repair, but also to diagnose failures that could potentially compromise the smooth running of a vehicle, must change. The issue is closely intertwined with the relentless evolution that has been affecting the entire automotive sector for some time now.

It is estimated that by 2025, more than 70% of the vehicles on our roads could be natively connected cars, i.e. cars placed on the market with special on-board systems or equipped with "retrofit" solutions thanks to specific aftermarket components (source: Autopromotec Observatory elaboration based on Roland Berger information). In addition to these, hybrid and electric vehicles are taking larger market shares with each passing year, as are the many vehicles equipped with advanced electronic devices designed for active and passive safety, the so-called Adas (Advanced driver-assistance systems).

With vehicles that are increasingly sophisticated in terms of IT systems resembling hi-tech computers on wheels, the expert eye and capable hand of the professional aftermarket specialist may not always be enough. Several components that up until recently could simply be replaced, now must be accurately calibrated or reprogrammed after installation. If this does not happen, or is not done correctly, i.e. using an appropriate tool for diagnosis and programming, the vehicle may present the same error, generate a new one or simply suffer in terms of emissions, fuel consumption, performance and safety levels. Just to give a few examples: when replacing the windscreen on vehicles equipped with Adas, a static or dynamic calibration must also be carried out to ensure the correct functioning of the aforementioned safety systems; the warranty on some electric vehicles may be voided if a battery status check is not carried out using a diagnostic tool that measures the state of the battery and its residual life.

As a consequence the automotive diagnostics tools market is called upon to keep up with fast developing vehicles, offering advanced, user-friendly systems that include scanners and code readers for vehicle electronic control units, exhaust gas and battery status analysers, digital tire pressure gauges, failure monitoring devices and sensors and preventive diagnosis equipment for vehicle set up, engine or other components.

The global market for automotive diagnostics equipment is thriving with overall sales increasing every year. The year 2020 is expected to close with a global value of $41 billion, which is expected to reach as much as $53 billion by 2025. This was revealed by MarketsandMarkets following a recent industry analysis. According to the US research company, the driving forces behind such growth must be found in higher vehicle production and sales expected in the future, the subsequent increase in the number of car repair shops, the evolution of electronics and in-vehicle information technology, the tendency to integrate advanced digital functions into vehicles and the widespread connectivity of the automotive sector. However, this evolution is also driven by the growing attention that consumers and institutions are paying to aspects such as road safety and environmental impact, which could greatly benefit from careful diagnostics procedures.

The evolution of diagnostics tools must be viewed as a part of recent automotive history and is likely to play a key role in the near future. However, it also represents a great opportunity for the sector, starting with aftermarket operators who, having at their disposal advanced tools able to "read" vehicle data, can optimise business volumes, improve competitiveness and, last but certainly not least, offer customers a timely, quality service that is in step with the times, thus gaining more in terms of loyalty.

 

ALIENTECH

The Alientech range includes KESSV2, an OBD (on-board diagnostic) device for engine control unit and automatic transmission. With KESSV2 it is possible to rewrite an original or modified file in the vehicle control unit via OBD communication. KESSV2 can be connected to cars, motorbikes, trucks, tractors and boats. It is compatible with the main brands and available in two configurations, KESSV2Master and KESSV2Slave, depending on the preferred workshop solution. After reading the mapping file present in the control unit using KESSV2 Master it is possible to modify its parameters with the Ecm Titanium remapping software according to the specifications required by the driver and rewrite it later in the control unit. The KESSV2 Slave solution is suitable for workshops wishing to enter the world of "chip-tuning", based on tailor-made mapping files. K-TAG, on the other hand, is a bench programmer for engines and automatic transmissions able to communicate with the ECUs and reads and writes directly the ECU microprocessor, flash memory and EEPROM. K-TAG is also available in Master versions for reprogramming the control unit via ECM Titanium and Slave for "chip-tuning".

 

AVL DITEST

AVL DITEST MDS 105 is a multi-brand diagnostic tool that includes AVL DITEST XDS 1000 ECU diagnostics and the diagnostics box for an installation on an existing PC or laptop. The diagnostic VCI can be connected to a computer via USB or wirelessly via Bluetooth. The extensive database is updated four times a year with all the new cars released on the market. Fast and easy to use, the AVL DITEST MDS 105 guides the car repairer in finding and solving car failures. The vehicle search is done by Vin or by simply indicating the make and model of the vehicle. At the start, the on-board electronic systems are scanned to provide a clear picture of the problems found. AVL DITEST products are distributed in Italy by Maione S.r.l.

 

BOSCH

Bosch ESI[tronic] software and control unit tools enable the operator to identify almost any vehicle model and provide comprehensive data.

Already present in the "toolbox" of many multi-brand workshops, Bosch ESI[tronic] was presented in a new version in 2019: The Bosch ESI[tronic] 2.0 offers a complete package including diagnostic data, repair instructions, maintenance programs, wiring diagrams and the "Experience-Based Repair" (EBR) module useful in repairing almost all vehicles on the European market. Compared to the previous version, Bosch ESI[tronic] 2.0 Online has been improved following the feedback received from users. For example, via the download manager, garages can now select a quick installation that allows them to save disk space and use individual components and data online. In this case, only the ECU diagnosis (SD) and the individual spare parts catalogues are stored on the computer's hard disk. Further information - such as troubleshooting instructions and manuals (SIS), maintenance information (M), wiring diagrams (P) and "experience-based repair" (TSB / EBR) - can now be viewed online. Bosch ESI[tronic] 2.0 is also available in an online version that can be used alongside the offline version.

The ESI[tronic] 2.0 Online software provides access to diagnostic data and service and repair information for Mercedes-Benz vehicles and the FCA group with protected IT systems. The ESI[tronic] works on the FCA Group's "Security Gateway" (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) and Daimler's "Seed & Key". Bosch workshop equipment also supports new technologies such as DoIP (Diagnostics over Internet Protocol) or PassThru, simplifying communication with the manufacturer's service portals enabling workshops to carry out diagnostics and maintenance without any restrictions.

 

DELPHI

Delphi Technologies developed a wide range of diagnostic solutions. The flexibility of Delphi's catalogue allows car repair shops to choose from a range of tailor-made, modular, easy-to-use tools for all applications. These include the DS150, a diagnostic tool with essential functions such as automatic scanning of all the electronic control units present in a vehicle (Intelligent System Scan, ISS) and data logging.

With DS150E it is possible to troubleshoot vehicles via computer. Simply connect the VCI interface to the vehicle's diagnostic socket to make it communicate via Bluetooth with the software installed in the workshop PC and then perform an in-depth analysis of the main systems. In addition, the Delphi Technologies DS range includes a specific tool dedicated to hybrid and electric vehicles: able to read error codes and in real time displays data for the inverter, charger, engine and battery management system of 60 hybrid models and over 85% of all electric vehicles currently available on the market. All diagnostic tools made by Delphi Technologies are individually tested before delivery and guaranteed for two years.

 

HELLA GUTMANN

Mega macs 77 introduces a "real time repair" function. Thanks to the ultra-fast processor and guided measurements, the device provides fast technical support for repairing the diagnosed failure: texts and images are available for more than 49,000 vehicles from the most important brands. And if this is not enough, it only takes a "click" to transmit the entire repair and maintenance history to the Hella Gutmann technical call centre and receive direct support until the problem is fully repaired. Mega macs 77 is also equipped with a 15.6" full HD touchscreen that allows the specialist to view up to 16 vehicle parameters simultaneously, define basic settings, display service data or follow step-by-step instructions.

Small in size - only 480 grams, including battery! - but great in performance, mega macs 42 SE "Second Edition" is the evolution of the famous handheld tester by Hella Gutmann. It is equipped with all essential diagnostic functions also integrated in the mega macs 56 and mega macs 66 devices: failure codes finding, quick solutions and practical maintenance instructions - all illustrated on a compact display. It is also possible to update the control units with the original manufacturer's data using PassThru technology. Mega macs 42 SE has been specially designed for workshops dealing with several brands – specifically 40 manufacturers with a total of over 35,000 car models - and as a second mobile device. Mega macs tools from Hella Gutmann can be used on FCA and Mercedes-Benz vehicles equipped with data access protection.

 

MOTORSCAN

Since 1991, Motorscan (EOS) has been designing and manufacturing exhaust gas analysis equipment and multi-brand diagnostic equipment for car repair shops. In Motorscan's portfolio of solutions for automotive diagnostics, one product stands out in particular, the Memorex 3, a wireless multifunctional platform developed for the latest versions of  Windows. The system consists of VCI (vehicle communication interface) which can be connected to the vehicle via a diagnostic socket. The information collected is sent to MX series tablets or any Windows compatible device. Memorex 3 offers the possibility of performing passive and active proprietary diagnostics ( DataDiag ) of engine control systems (ECU) and accessory systems (Service, ABS/ASR/ESP brakes electronics, Airbag, Air Conditioning, Gears, Suspensions, Immobilizer, etc.), along with the standard EOBD/OBDII diagnostics. The tool also unlocks the diagnosis system on FCA vehicles equipped with "Security Gateway" protected electronics. A "turnkey" solution is also available for garages with the manufacturer's service subscription directly included in the Motorscan subscription. Using Memorex 3 with a special OBD splitter cable it is possible to use the Security Gateway unlocking function even using more obsolete or third party devices. Motorscan Memorex 3 is equipped with the DataHelp system which, via an interactive connection can open a complete archive of wiring diagrams, maintenance instructions, adjustment data, repair manuals and fault code identification.

 

SUN

The PDL 8000 is the latest addition to the SUN range of diagnostic tools, a brand of Snap-on Equipment. The tool works exclusively with Intelligent Diagnostics, an information system with several specific functions. The vehicle codes are scanned and completely deleted with a simple touch. During acceptance, the tool generates a report identifying any problems even if not reported by the customer. The SURETRACK function combines intelligence and experience to help repairers quickly determine the most likely solution based on vehicle model, mileage, codes, components and the specific problems of the vehicle. TSB offers OEM service bulletins specifically related to the vehicle and the DTC. Reachable with a touch, it is ideal to start troubleshooting by applying validated OEM solutions. The Smart Data function automatically configures the fault code parameter group, saving even more time by filtering out unrelated data. Intelligent diagnostics automatically informs the specialist of a higher or lower than normal data range. Thanks to functional tests and resets, everything is at the technician's fingertips with easy-to-follow reset procedures that help to complete the repair procedure. The Intelligent Diagnostics function provides a selection of actuator tests and service functions directly related to the fault code and the problem. The guided component test function allows technicians to identify problems and identify the component to be replaced with certainty. Finally, thanks to the "Snap-On Cloud", one can automatically capture and upload vehicle scan reports during acceptance and delivery, as well as images and screenshots, accessing them from a phone or computer when needed and sharing them via text or email. The SUN PDL 8000 is ready to access the electronic-protected diagnostic data of FCA, VAG Group, Mercedes and Renault vehicles.

 

TECNOMOTOR

The flagship of the new generation of diagnostic tools under the Tecnomotor (Nexion Group) brand is the SOCIO X6 tester. A multifunctional diagnostic tool equipped with the latest generation IMX processor with integrated 8.0" LCD touch screen, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The performance of the IMX processor allows immediate access to internal navigation menus and total integration between diagnosis, measurement module, oscilloscope and multi-metre.

High speed communication with the vehicle's electronic control units and the updating of parameters and DTCs ensure operating efficiency and no or short waiting times. Through a 5MP rear video camera it is possible to capture images of components and identification codes. The two-channel oscilloscope with 100MS/s sampling rate offers the possibility to correctly analyse the fastest signals present on the vehicle (CAN), generate wave functions and verify the correct operating voltage of the components. Integration with the TISWEB service in the TIS (Tecnomotor Integrated System) interface is a true multitasking between workshop diagnosis and on-line consultation of the technical database.

Tecnomotor SGW key, on the other hand, is a specific device for carrying out diagnostics on FCA group vehicles equipped with Security Gateway (SGW). It is compatible with all Socio series diagnostic testers, but also with similar devices of other brands. It is equipped with software enabled to access the FCA Security Gateway and unlock the "Logistic Mode" and "Performance Limitation" functions in new cars in pre-delivery. 

 

TEXA

A specialist in the development of diagnostic equipment, TEXA offers a complete series of solutions specific for the automotive world, ranging from its populer NAVIGATOR TXT and Navigator NANO S vehicle interfaces, to the powerful AXONE NEMO 2, AXONE 5 and AXONE S displays, up to DoIP NODE, a multi-brand adapter designed for high-speed DoIP (Diagnosis Over Internet Protocol) diagnostic operations on new vehicles equipped with Ethernet BUS communication.

The TEXA range also includes solutions for ADAS diagnostics, radar and camera calibration and the TEXA MULTI PEGASO station that integrates exhaust emission diagnostics. The TEXA family also includes solutions for truck and motorbike diagnostics. For the truck world Texa offers NAVIGATOR TXTs, a powerful diagnostic interface able to connect to the PC via Bluetooth, AXONE NEMO 2 and MULTI PEGASO. For diagnosis in the bike sector (motorbikes, quads, jet skis, snowmobiles and ATVs) the company offers NAVIGATOR TXB Evolution and Navigator NANO S. Both of these tools are able to connect to a PC via Bluetooth or to the AXONE NEMO 2 and AXONE 5 display units.

Finally, among the latest innovations introduced is the new TEXA SECURITY ACCESS service that allows unlimited, secure and official diagnostics to be carried out on those vehicles - first and foremost those of the FCA Group, but also other brands that make the option available - equipped with Security Gateway (SGW) electronic protection module. Upon subscribing a membership, TEXA solutions automatically manage authentication on the manufacturer's servers via Internet connection, thus systematically unlocking the SGW module.

 

VAMAG

Vamag specialises in testing and inspection equipment. "Accettazione Dinamica” (Direct Reception) by Vamag is a "one-stop" inspection and acceptance system. This solution includes a series of professional tools for vehicle diagnosis in the workshop. The area can be conveniently structured at the entrance, so that all incoming vehicles can be tested. Vamag's inspection systems, which are quick and easy to use, can carry out a complete test of the vehicle, car or truck, in less than two minutes. The system collects information on alignment, brake and suspension performance, battery status, ECU diagnosis, tire status and more.

Vamag's inspection lines deliver quick vehicle reception and inspection in a single solution. In particular, the "Direct Reception" service allows to check the vehicle immediately. With a new dynamic system to check wheel alignment, brake and suspension, it will be possible to carry out simultaneous diagnosis and check the brake and shock absorber performance as well as the dynamic alignment. It is also possible to integrate other Vamag products into the same direct receiving line, including dynamomet

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