MOTOR Magazine

A MOTOR Magazine Newsletter
March 20, 2017

Contributed by Bob Chabot
Connected Workshops Become a Reality

Shop efficiencies and customer conveniences intersect

Just a few years ago at a private meeting during AAPEX, we shared with MOTOR our vision of the connected workshop,” stated Dr. Uwe Thomas, President of Bosch Automotive Aftermarket. "At that meeting, we predicted the growing significance of digitization for both workshops and vehicles. The Internet of Things facilitates the smart processing of large data volumes and the increasing connection between products and their environment. This offers huge potential to vehicle owners and the service repair shops they prefer."

Cloud-Based Connectivity Empowers Shops
“Now, that vision has been realized, named 'Connected Repair' and incorporated as a major focus of Bosch Mobility Solutions," Thomas added. MOTOR recently met with Thomas and other Bosch leaders to learn how Connected Repair service puts that vision into action in modern aftermarket service repair shops.

“The high number of connected services and augmented reality applications is driving a broad range of innovative products and services into the industry and modern workplaces. Consumers today can easily schedule and plan appointments at workshops.

"Shops and technicians can also benefit from improved scheduling and planning, because vehicle data and repair history from connected automobiles is already available, even before the customer hands over the vehicle. That’s a cutting edge you want your shop to be on.

Inside workshops today, there are many software packages and a lot of equipment that need information about the customer, vehicle, fault(s) and required service. Until now, while all these systems talked with the user, they do not talk to each other. Bosch Connected Repair changes this paradigm, as it links software systems, equipment and vehicle data, thus allowing to successfully exchange service and repair information. (Video — Bosch Mobility Solutions)

Optimized Service Times and Customer Convenience
Connected Repair is a software solution from The Bosch Group that interconnects all service equipment at a shop. The Tier One supplier first introduced the solution at Automechanika 2016. Since then, Bosch has introduced the solution in North America.

Upon the first visit to a connected shop, vehicle data is automatically transferred between the vehicle and the shop’s service equipment and devices. Work stations are provided an activation code that allows service advisors or technicians to simply enter a vehicle’s license plate or vehicle identification number (VIN) at their individual work stations, after which job tasks can be created and sent to the connected devices, equipment and parts suppliers for processing. This takes place, even before a vehicle arrives.

Entering the license plate or VIN at activated shop workstations facilitates access to a vehicle’s complete history by those workstations at any time. This includes all test results and previous tests, which can be accessed at any workstation and at any time. For example, former tasks can often contain links to potential resources a technician may find useful. For subsequent shop appointments, no additional vehicle identification is required. This saves set-up time, eases the processes and improves workflow.

The Entrance Check feature of Connected Repair Connected Workshop allows customers to be informed about the current condition of their vehicle via an inspection that takes just a few minutes. Work orders and customer authorization can then be generated before the customer leaves. (Video — Bosch Mobility Solutions)

Connected Repair Uses a Central Database
All authorized staff members of a shop are provided access to the system, which facilitates a quick and easy view of the current state of repair by authorized personnel at any moment. Connected Repair is also compatible with most shop management systems. Workflow can be monitored and optimized. In addition, customers can be informed or given feedback or updates as requested, which can enhance customer satisfaction.

For optimum performance, Bosch recommends setting up a separate server unit within a shop. Information on the vehicle’s life cycle can then be saved centrally and accessed at each individual workstation if and when required.

Connected Repair includes several other features and services that provide advantages to connected shops that are connected with their customers:

  • Entrance Check — At service reception, customers can be informed about the current condition of their vehicle via an inspection that takes just a few minutes. Connected Bosch diagnostic equipment, different tests are performed. These include reading out error codes, checking tire pressure and tread depth, battery condition, and even performing a wheel alignment check. The results can immediately be seen on all workshop systems and can be discussed directly with the customer or sent to their smartphone for authorization.
  • Quick Service — According to Bosch, Connected Repair’s Quick Service feature helps technicians perform routine service tasks can be up to 60 percent faster. Bosch’s Quick Service system includes a combination of mobile toolboxes specifically designed for the respective routine tasks, as well as standardized tools and staff trainings that significantly increase the efficiency at such routine tasks. If applied systematically, the Quick Service system reduces the time required for routine service tasks by up to 60 percent.
  • ToolNet — ToolNet extends the Internet of Things to all tools and equipment used in workshops. This smart inventory and tool management system leverages digital inventory to optimize a workshop’s service repair readiness. For instance, by using different tracking technologies, such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), ToolNet increases use, maintenance, rental and tracking efficiencies.
  • Drivelog Connect App —This smartphone app gives drivers real-time information about the vehicle’s status. The Drivelog interface is connected vehicle, which transmits important data (such as error codes, location, routes travelled, or driving style) to the vehicle owner’s smart phone via a Bluetooth connection.
  • SweetWorxx Platform — Currently being piloted in California, this app makes it possible for drivers to connect to the workshop quickly and book a variety of services. For instance, the app enables a vehicle pick-up and delivery service. Customers go to work in the morning and park their vehicles there. By the time their working day is over, their car is in the same place, but has already been at the workshop. The result: Greater customer convenience, satisfaction and loyalty.

“To improve the flow of service-related data in workshops, Bosch has begun rolling out several new technologies to shops and their technicians,” stated Dr. Hans-Peter Meyen, Executive Vice President Product of Area Diagnostics and Engineering for Bosch “One example is augmented reality. The technician points a smartphone camera or tablet at the vehicle. Instead of seeing a Pokémon appear on the screen, they see important additional information on a real image of the car. This can include explanations such as operating instructions or circuit diagrams, three-dimensional objects, pictures, or videos. This information helps provide a deeper understanding of the product in question and makes it easier to detect malfunctions.” (Image — Bosch Mobility Solutions)

The Automotive Aftermarket is in a State of Upheaval
“In Bosch’s view, the entire industry is facing bigger challenges than it has in a long time,” advised Dr. Hans-Peter Meyen, Executive Vice President Product of Area Diagnostics and Engineering for Bosch. “Burgeoning technological change and security concerns are in play. Competition has intensified immensely. Customer service, high levels of transparency, attractive conveniences, closer levels of contact and customized customer support are also becoming increasingly important for workshops. Arguably, they are becoming essential to the future success of business.

“This new reality is based on the growing connectivity of the vehicle and its surroundings. Telematics data can be accessed very easily today, which a workshop can then use to assess the vehicle’s status and prepare the work required, long before a vehicle rolls into the workshop.”

Meyen shared that how data is communicated to, from and within vehicles is on the cusp of massive connected changes. Network topologies are soon going to include Ethernet and other high-capacity protocols to efficiently manage the high volume and complexity of vehicle data. Video data, for example, leaps beyond the traditional 1s and 0s that conventional, older data are formatted in.

Vehicle service information, software and other data will soon be conveyed to and from automakers across brand new communication architectures that employ highly-secured cloud-based servers and sophisticated onboard vehicle data gateway modules with built-in security measures that any connected user — be it technicians using scan tools or J2534 devices, motorists using a plug-in dongle for insurance or other purposes, law enforcement, or for that matter, ill-intentioned hackers. So don’t be surprised if and when tools and equipment must connect wirelessly, rather than via the underdash J1962 port.

“Our aim is to optimize the work processes and the flow of IT-related data in workshops,” Meyen explained. “Connected Repair connects all Bosch diagnostics systems and equipment within the workshop. This means that all computers have immediate access to all vehicle data. Initial registration of the vehicle in the database is all that is required to get and activation code. Once this has been done, workshop employees only need to enter the license plate or vehicle identification number to access a vehicle’s entire history.”

“Like similar developments experienced in other industries that Bosch is involved in, increasing digitization and connectivity will shape the biggest changes for everyone in the automotive aftermarket segment,” Meyen advised. “While this trend will bring forth major opportunities, it also represents changes so significant that they could pose an existential threat for some participants.”

[Editor's note: Visit for the latest diagnostic and service insights.]

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