IBIS USA 2020 – a virtual and veritable success

IBIS USA 2020, held for the first time as a live online simulcast on 2 April due to the coronavirus crisis, has been acclaimed an emphatic triumph by speakers and delegates alike.

Several key messages emerged during from the three-hour virtual event, including the absolute need for proper repair procedures, the opportunity that ADAS recalibration offers to forward-thinking bodyshops, and how the skills gap will likely widen as vehicles become more advanced.

Jason Moseley, CEO of the International Bodyshop Industry Symposium (IBIS), kicked things off with a live video opening address on the IBIS USA 2020 theme of 20:20 Vision, before introducing keynote speaker David Williams, the managing director of underwriting and technical services for AXA Insurance UK.

Risk and underwriting of autonomous vehicles (AVs) and how insurers are driving the regulatory environment were the focus of Williams’ presentation. During a Q&A (pictured) which followed his presentation, Williams said: “Whether a car is driven by a person or by a computer, there should be only one set of rules. But whatever happens with [AVs] and shared mobility in the future will result in fewer vehicles needing to be repaired.”

Jennifer Boyer, global collision business and strategy manager for Ford, was up next to discuss how OEM collision programmes, and in particular those offered by the automotive giant, have changed in recent years as Ford continues to roll out its repair programmes around the world and strives to “become the world’s most trusted company”.

Later in the simulcast, AkzoNobel North America sales manager Michelle Sullivan outlined work that the Women’s Industry Network has been doing to support women in collision repair, while George Irving of Toyota and Chris Ollila of Verifacts spoke separately about proper repair procedures and quality control in bodyshops.

“It is vitally important for cars to be repaired so they [perform] exactly as they were designed to, so if they’re involved in a second accident they still keep the driver and passengers safe,” Ollila said.

On the subject of ADAS recalibration, he added: “ADAS is a great opportunity for everyone in our industry. Very few shops are expert in [recalibration] as yet. There are lots of challenges, but lots of opportunities.”

Moseley, who had conducted interactive audience Q&A sections with each of the speakers, then introduced and interviewed Skills USA champion Paul Danenberg about his experiences in the national competition and his journey to WorldSkills Kazan 2019.

The 22-year-old offered some insight into how the industry might plug the skills gap. “Money is not so important to young people as it is to older generations,” he said. “[We] are more focused on job satisfaction, management feedback, flexibility and time off.”

The final speaker at IBIS USA 2020 – Tradiebot CEO Mario Dimovski – offered a visionary approach to attracting the next generation of collision repair workers with his fascinating session on augmented reality (AR) for collision repairs, including a demonstration of video gaming technology being used to train paint sprayers.

“Now is the time for our industry to plug into these advanced technologies, because if we are going to appeal to the next generation we need to be using the right kind of bait to attract them,” he said. “We need to show them that this industry is using the tools that are being used in real life,” he said.