Safety requires accurate calibration
The widespread availability of driver-assistance systems in modern cars, and their calibration, call for new and advanced workshop equipment
The ever more ubiquitous Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems, now to be found in all modern vehicles, go a long way in ensuring a greater degree of road safety for all users, and the need to guarantee the efficiency of these devices which, given their importance must be kept under control, is becoming increasingly pressing for specialised workshops.
Contrary to popular opinion, ADAS need calibration. Not only in case of failure. Each time work is performed on a component that integrates and “communicates” with one or more ADAS devices and sensors, calibration is required. It is always necessary to have a "zero point" on the basis of which ADAS sensors can be reset. New vehicles normally come with set parameters which leave ADAS devices to decide when and how to “take over”. It goes without saying that when one such device is damaged and replaced, the control unit must likewise be reset, indicating which element has been replaced and recalibrating the system, so that the control unit will recognize it correctly.
On the other hand, when a component with an integrated sensor or device is replaced (for example, a windshield or a bumper) or is monitored by on-board ADAS devices (suspension arms or wheels, i.e. elements that will ultimately affect the geometry and behaviour of a car) it is not so automatic to think that one should proceed with recalibrating the systems.
This because the vehicle repaired is no longer identical to the one that left the factory. In fact, we should consider that, over time - or due to damages – the parameters of the vehicle have been partially changed (at least beyond the tolerance limit accepted by the system), making it necessary to set a new "zero point" in the control unit. Once the values have been reset, ADAS are correctly and safely activated as we are no longer looking at a theoretical model but at the real geometry of the car, heights, distances and precise measurements. Such operation is necessary, first and foremost for safety issues, as ADAS components may lose their effectiveness.
The purpose of calibration is also to enable ADAS devices to obtain precise readings with a minimum tolerance. For this reason, such operation must be absolutely precise. Diagnostic equipment now available to specialists, guide the operators step by step, but it is essential to perform the entire procedure with due accuracy. After having positioned the vehicle in front of calibration panels, according to the set parameters and the required alignment, the instrument will then proceed to communicate with the on-board control unit and compare the data from the sensors with those found in the database, re-programming the control units of the ADAS system according to the data collected. At this stage, a new "zero point" is set, and the control unit will operate accordingly.
Environmental conditions are equally important for a correct recalibration of the system: for example, the floor of the workshop must be perfectly level or the readings will be distorted.
Static and dynamic calibration
There are two types of calibration methods, static and dynamic, with the first currently gaining the upper hand as dynamic calibration requires perfect environmental conditions, which are not always easy to find.
Static recalibration takes place inside a specialized workshop using calibration panels. The vehicle is positioned in front of a panel, which may differ significantly from one vehicle to another. This is in fact one of the problems with static recalibration: since it is not possible to use a single universal panel, a workshop must be equipped with a set of panels, all of which come at different prices.
Dynamic recalibration, on the other hand, is a road-based system. To be carried out, however, a car must travel for a certain period of time at a constant speed without stopping and in “kind” weather conditions. That is why such operations are, at times, quite difficult to be carried out successfully.
Let’s talk money
In addition, there are important cost-related aspects to consider. According to a research by the American Automobile Association, ADAS systems may even double repair costs. Even minor accidents might total up to $3,000 more than pre-ADAS repairs did. Windshield damage, which is rather common, could cost as much as $1,500 more, if equipped with a camera. Unexpected expenses that drivers are often reluctant to face.
Car repairers must therefore take this new scenario into account, adopting solutions that will benefit their business and satisfy the customer at the same time. First of all, proper training is necessary. To be able to effectively deal with these advanced systems, the right skills and state-of-the-art equipment are a must. Investments in these fields means giving the business a leading edge, which could turn into higher revenues and reputation.
Bosch DAS 3000: a modular solution for all specialists
With its DAS 3000, the German company Bosch offers all glass specialists a modular solution for the replacement of windscreens, without neglecting body shops and professional workshops. It is basically a panel compatible with OEM-compliant workstations able to accommodate a wide range of calibration panels. The Bosch DAS 3000 features a pitch adjustment device, a support for a diagnostic PC with Bosch software compatible with Windows 7 and 10, a robust double-lever spring brake and an innovative universal mounting, predefined positions for XL panels and precision panel-measuring bar.
The DAS 3000 guarantees calibration to OEM requirements and significant time savings in positioning thanks to Bosch software procedures.
Hella: the ADAS clinic
Hella Gutmann Solutions’ CSC-Tool (Camera and Sensor Calibration Tool) is considered by many to be a practical and effective solution for multi-brand workshops. As for all sensors working over a distance of several hundred metres, these must be adjusted with pinpoint accuracy. For this reason, CSC-Tool has been developed and expanded to work on several vehicle brands and models and is currently able to support camera calibration on 35 vehicles, including dynamic and static calibration. CSC-Tool has 20 manufacturer-specific calibration panels that allow any workshop to calibrate 35 different vehicle brands (including Audi, BMW, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru, Toyota and Volkswagen).
CSC-Tool has recently expanded its capabilities to include 360-degree vision and reversing cameras: these technologies are in fact necessary for semi-automatic parking systems. After all, the manufacturers themselves require precise calibration of the geometric position of the wheels: something that may be necessary after replacing the rear-view mirrors, after a collision, after wheel alignment or after re-programming the control units. The new kits include a multi-component calibration system and two flexible panels. Correct alignment of all panels is achieved by means of the CSC itself and by means of distance measurements.
Furthermore, Hella Gutmann unveiled a practical mobile version of the tool at Autopromotec, which offers the same accuracy and OE standards as the fixed version.
CEMB, all in a kit
The CEMB ADAS CCD Kit represents the perfect compromise between wheel alignment system and ADAS/ACC calibration panel support. After performing a vehicle alignment, the front axle sensors is positioned on the ADAS support panel calibration bar by means of universal adaptors supplied with the kit, leaving the rear axle sensors in their standard rear axle mounted location. With a simple click of the dedicated software program, and through an interactive sequence displayed on the monitor, the specialist is guided into quickly position the ADAS calibration support panel. After a few seconds, thanks to a fool-proof procedure, a perfect positioning of the ADAS support panel is obtained in respect to the vehicle’s thrust angle.
Shorter lead times with Connex Digital
The Connex Digital ADAS system represents Mahle and Brain Bee’s latest effort, which, thanks to a patented digital system, has reduced operation time by 80%. If traditional systems takes about 30 minutes, Connex Digital ADAS will do the job in just five! The advantage is doubled if calibration requires double readings at different distances. The design of the Connex Digital ADAS tool is based on projectors which, instead of shifting the point of view, transform the target into the required distance. In other words, there is no need to move the car for a second reading, because Connex Digital ADAS modifies the reference image.
"From a strictly business point of view, tire dealers are better prepared in selling this service compared to other automotive professionals," says Carlo Rocchi, founder of Brain Bee and managing director of Mahle Aftermarket Italy. The tire specialist already has the car on a lift for a tire change and has already established a relationship of trust with the customer; on the other hand, an RCCS is an investment that pays for itself in a short time and allows, for example, a body shop to keep up with technology as well as new generation vehicles.
TEXA: Advanced solutions for tomorrow’s workshop
RCCS 2 is Texa's new complete and professional solution for all camera and radar calibration operations. It consists of a sturdy main support, electrically adjustable in height, and also perpendicularly thanks to a practical knob on the back of the structure. The adjustment bar is equipped with two distance metres, a sliding reflective plate, equipped with a central laser to calibrate the front radar. Above the structure there is an additional laser level useful to find the centre simply by aiming it to the front logo of the vehicle.
This tool allows the specialist to place the structure and align it correctly and easily with the vehicle and the floor, with absolute precision and in total safety. RCCS 2 from Texa is easy to move within the workshop, thanks to pivoting wheels, and allows the operator to independently manage all phases of work, now including wheel alignment control on cars and light commercial vehicles, with a simple yet safe and highly professional service.
Available in three versions: with wheel clamps, with tire clamps, with trim control kit, CCD sensors and wheel clamps.