The Fix Network Global Conference, which includes Novus Glass and SRP, is underway in Orlando. The event is being held at the Hyatt Regency Cypress Garden and features various presentations, activities and social events. It runs through Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. More than 400 attendees have flocked to the three-day conference, some from as far as Germany, New Zealand and Australia.
Fix Network president Steve Leal opened the event by discussing how technology will shape the future. This involves harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) to repair vehicles.
“Certain jobs will change,” he told attendees. “AI can replace the majority of repetitive
tasks. People are questioning their career paths as colleges and universities are raising prices. Blue is the new white as many enter into the trades and not go into debt.”
He added that AI will improve auto repairs thanks to its ability to streamline processes. Of
course, AI won’t replace technicians, but it will drastically improve how they operate. While efficiency will improve, the cost of technicians will increase due to the improved quality and quantity of work.
Leal concluded his presentation with a look into the future, specifically at the fast-approaching domination of fully autonomous vehicles. He explained that while automated vehicles will likely be limited to buses and other vehicles used around large cities, the adoption rate in rural areas will be limited.
Other sessions throughout the day included a discussion on the impact of glass technology on the aftermarket, presented by Bill George, director of business planning at NSG-Pilkington. Lisa Foshee, senior vice president of Government Affairs and general counsel for the Auto Care Association (ACA), talked about the Right to Repair initiative.
Foshee said the initiative will be an “existential issue for the industry.”
She explained one of ACA’s major initiatives is fighting including an end to repair restrictions due to the lack of access to repair data. Among the concerns is telematics. It’s accessed over the internet through SIM cards and sold to advertisers and car manufacturers. Foshee said there is an
effort to block this information from going to the aftermarket.
“We believe we will not have access to this data going forward,” she said.
As a result, consumers will be forced to go to dealerships. She stated customers currently go to dealerships during the first three years of ownership. However, as consumers keep their vehicles longer, they tend to go to the aftermarket to save on costs, but a block on information will change that.
“The manufacturer’s position is untenable,” said Foshee. “Seventy percent of repairs are done out of warranty. It is 36% cheaper than going to the dealer. The manufacturer wants control of the repairs. Dealers will not be able to handle all the repair work. It is critical to stay in front of lawmakers to gain access to this data.”
Joshua Huff is assistant editor of AGRR magazine’s sister publication, USGlass magazine.