Top: The SEMA show encompasses over 2 million square feet of exhibit space.
The world’s largest tradeshow of all things automotive.
by Sarah Bruce
SEMA is the place to check out all the latest and greatest new products on the market, engage with industry professionals, and understand current trends. It is a place where suppliers meet buyers and problems find solutions.
The industry faces a number of challenges when doing business. On the minds of almost every automotive professional is the issue of an aging workforce and the lack of skilled professionals coming in; health, safety, and how to best protect technicians from work-related injuries; and, of course, how body shops can be as efficient, productive, and profitable as possible while continuing to deliver exceptional service.
Targeting the issue of attracting young talent to the collision industry was Sherwin-Williams and Larson Motorsports. Together, they collaborated to create the Blazing Trails Scholarship Fund, a program developed to award scholarships to deserving automotive students. To support this, Sherwin-Williams displayed paintings for sale via silent auction, with all proceeds going to the fund. “It’s the hope that the Blazing Trails Scholarship Fund can give career-minded students the resources and necessary funding to pursue an education in automotive service and collision repair,” said Justin Binns, president and general manager of Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes. “At the same time, we’re focused on sustaining an industry that is currently challenged to attract skilled professionals.”
Sustainability is the goal of many suppliers in the industry. Part of making this possible is to decrease the time needed to do a job, thus increasing productivity. This was especially apparent at the Global Finishing Solutions booth where the REVO Accelerated Curing Systems proved there is nothing boring about watching paint dry. By delivering consistent, controlled heat, REVO systems uses short-wave electric infrared technology to cure filler, primer, sealer, and paint with just one pass meaning technicians can finish a project and be on to the next one faster.
It is a place where suppliers meet buyers and problems find solutions.”
Fellow Canadians, Arslan Automotive, also demonstrated their timesaving measuring system, AccuVision-3D. “The major advantage of our system is the time savings,” said Arman Gurarslan, managing director, explaining how AccuVision-3D saves body shops time because it requires no setup. A technician simply has to place the handheld pointer where they want to take their measurement and the camera will record it.
Measurement accuracy is within one to two millimetres and provides concrete data to show customers and insurance companies any misalignment in a vehicle’s structure.
Over at the Induction Innovations booth, Alicia Hawkins, marketing director, demonstrated how their brand-new Mini-Ductor Venom HP could make life easier for automotive technicians. “With our Mini-Ductor, you can release anything rusted, corroded, thread lock compounds, and any type of adhesive,” said Alicia. “With induction heat, it’s only going to heat ferrous metal and it’s only going to heat what’s within the coil so you can get near fuel lines, wiring, plastic and you’re not going to have the lateral damage you would have with an open flame.”
Also attracting attention to their booth via demonstration was Spanesi, as they promoted their new product, Pull Up! Using suction cups, impact weights, and glue capable of holding 5000 lbs., the Pull Up! system is a repair product that allows a technician to correct a dent from the outside without the need to disassemble and reassemble internal parts.
To show how easy it is, Spanesi representatives glued a suction cup to a dent on the demo car, let the glue set, then using an impact weight attached to the suction cup, popped the dent right out with minimal effort. Afterward, the glue is easy to peel off when alcohol is applied, leaving a smooth repair.
With today’s vehicles teeming with plastic components, there is a lot more plastic to repair after a collision. This is why Wedge Clamp Systems has produced the first-ever Fusion Plus Plastic Welder. “Our Fusion Plus Plastic Welder does everything a nitrogen welder does, without the use of nitrogen,” said Vice President Mark Greenberg. “It uses a microprocessor that senses the plastic and melts it at the perfect temperature.” All the technician has to do is plug it into a 110w outlet and they can repair plastic without the use of sticky glues and epoxies.
Just as important as time and money is to repair shops, so is the health and safety of the technician. For this, many suppliers are producing new products with ergonomics in mind.
Equalizer’s SafeLift is a powered installation system that allows a single technician to remove and install windshields without the heavy lifting and strain. Featuring a remote-controlled lift on a rotating stand, Equalizer demonstrated how the system is not only cost-effective by only needing one technician but also easier on that one technician as it makes their job less physically demanding.
Polyvance had a very creative booth featuring superheroes using their products. If the superheroes were not enough to draw people in, their Bumper Stabilizer on display was. The Bumper Stabilizer, which attaches to any scissor stand, supports any large, complex, multi-piece bumper, allowing the technician to control the position of it during repair or assembly operations. It is better ergonomically for the technician and it reduces the risk of mishandling and damaging the bumper.
Network 1 Solutions—formerly known as ProLine Tool & Supply—is also targeting safety and efficiency in shops with their product, the Lift King. The Lift King can be used to remove or install everything from pickup-truck boxes to car doors and increases productivity by allowing a single technician to do the work of up to four people.
As well as being committed to technician healthy and safety, Island Clean Air is also committed to environmental sustainability. Thus, they offer a “green” indoor air cleaning solution with their Duster 3000 Downdraft.
The Duster 3000 Downdraft is a mobile prep station designed to remove sanding/bondo dust, paint overspray, fumes, and other volatile organic compounds, which improves air quality for the working technician and reduces cleanup time.
To improve body shop workflow, AkzoNobel has designed Carbeat, a digital process control solution. “Carbeat is an attempt to take the concept of production visuals and make it as big and transparent as we can,” said Ryan Ross, services manager. “It’s ultimately made to drive employee engagement.” Using a cloud-based digital platform, employees can see exactly what stage in the repair process a vehicle is in and what still needs to be done, thus improving efficiency and shop management.
PPG’s dynamic booth was consistently busy again this year as attendees crowded around to admire the graffiti art and vintage cars on display. “This year's theme is PPG unleashed,” said Cristina Murray, customer engagement and communication, explaining how the painters unleashed their talent. “At the booth, what you'll see is an awesome graffiti wall featuring some of our past and current products, as well as two Impalas and a Cadillac painted in lowrider style.”
Axalta immersed attendees in automotive paint colours at their booth, which featured a display about styling, matching, and application. They debuted a custom-built 1966 Dodge Charger coated in their colour of the year, a rich gold-bronze Sahara and displayed two highly awarded custom vehicles, a 1932 Ford and a 1965 Chevrolet Chevelle, decked out in Axalta-best. After attendees finished admiring the cars, they could go over to the paint vending machine and walk away with a paint chip of their favourite Axalta colour.
The BASF booth featured something for everyone, from guest celebrities to cool cars and demos of the new OEM Toolbox and eLearning platform. Showcasing some the most unique builds around, there was a 1974 Jaguar E Type, painted in a custom Foose Glasurit 90 Line color, a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro, painted with Glasurit 90 Line TOTOPKG Green, a 1964 Buick Riviera, painted with Glasurit Cruzer’s edition colors, and a 1968 F100, painted R-M Onyx HD, driven all the way from Texas.
Having the right tools for today’s vehicles is essential to staying on trend in the automotive industry. Only by keeping up with these trends can a body shop continue to be sustainable in the ever-evolving world of automotive technology. Every day, suppliers are producing solutions to problems and are listening to industry more than ever so they can develop, manufacturer, and improve products that benefit body shop owners, technicians, and the consumer.