Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. has created collision-repair software that gives body shop technicians one-stop access to parts information, repair instructions and technical information.
The convenience can cut the time it takes to repair a vehicle in half, says Rick Leos, the company's collision program developer.
Toyota-recommended repair procedures allow technicians to go online and get detailed collision-repair plans from one source. Typically, technicians find parts information in one place and repair instructions in another, said Leos.
The new tool is being launched in the Mitchell Estimating system, which is widely used in the collision-repair industry.
Leos said making the information more accessible to collision technicians helps ensure that Toyota vehicles are repaired properly and in the least amount of time.
"Eighty-seven percent of our cars are fixed by an independent collision center, and only 13 percent are fixed by our dealer body," says Leos. "This information is more critical to them than to our own dealers because our cars are getting fixed outside of our network. Consumer safety is the main driver."
Toyota is piloting the repair procedures with about 60 of its dealerships and will open it to all Toyota dealerships and independent shops in the first quarter of 2015.
Leos said the pilot indicates that the tool reduces repair time to about five days from the typical 11 to 13 days. He said the tool eliminates technicians starting a job and then having to put it on hold to wait for parts they didn't realize they needed when they started.
Leos also pointed out that many technicians are not aware that manufacturers such as Toyota issue technical information about how their vehicles should be repaired.
Toyota says some parts should be replaced even if they don't appear to be damaged. For example, an energy absorber in the rear door of the Toyota Camry is a one-time-use part. If that door is damaged in a collision, the absorber is to be replaced without question, Leos said. Not doing so could compromise consumer safety, he said.
"It hurts our brand," he said. "Part of the brand protection is keeping the quality of our cars" intact.