Chief Opens New Specification and Research Center – UnderhoodService

Chief Opens New Specification and Research Center

Chief Automotive Technologies has opened a new Specification and Research Center in Irvine, CA. Technicians at the center use the Chief Velocity computerized measuring system to develop specification data for 130 to 140 new passenger vehicles every year.

Chief Automotive Technologies has opened a new Specification and Research Center in Irvine, CA. Technicians at the center use the Chief Velocity computerized measuring system to develop specification data for 130 to 140 new passenger vehicles every year. This data is made available by subscription to insurers and collision repair shops throughout North America.
                                                                                           
“The only way to know if a collision-damaged vehicle frame has been returned to pre-accident condition is to compare its measurements to the original OEM specs,” explains Lee Daugherty, Chief global data product manager. “At the Chief Specification Center, we measure every new and redesigned vehicle sold in North America to give technicians the data they need to identify, repair and document frame damage accurately and efficiently.”
 
The spec center team records extensive data for each control point on a vehicle. This information includes the point’s location and description, and often includes a color photo to make identification faster. The team also includes details on which type of target and attachment technicians should use to measure the point, as well as vehicle anchoring information. All of this data is entered into Chief’s extensive specification database and is provided to subscribers in the form of regular updates.
 
The Chief team uses a standard Velocity computerized measuring system to gather data, ensuring that technicians can replicate the results. The Velocity system measures vehicle reference points using a laser scanner and light-reflective targets. When used to measure a collision-damaged vehicle, the Velocity computer compares the information it receives from the targets on the vehicle to the vehicle’s specifications in its database. It can then instantly tell the technician if the frame is misaligned, by how much, and in which direction.
 
In addition to the new Irvine facility, Chief has specification centers in the Netherlands, China and Malaysia. These facilities measure vehicles manufactured and sold in Europe, China and the Pacific Rim. Chief also sends technicians with portable measuring systems around the world as needed. In total, Chief measures around 450 new vehicles every year.
 
Chief has been taking its own measurements of every new vehicle since 1993 and offers data for some vehicles going back into the 1970s. Prior to opening the Irvine facility this year, Chief’s North American Specification Center was located in Nebraska. The California location offers better access to a wider range of new vehicles, according to Mike Cranfill, vice president of collision for Chief’s parent company, Vehicle Service Group (VSG).
 
“If you can’t get a vehicle in Southern California, they probably don’t make it!” he explains.
 
Chief borrows new vehicles directly from manufacturers and through a network of local car dealers, including Cerritos Nissan, Fladeboe Automotive Group, and Tuttle-Click Automotive Group.
 
Dale Napier, body shop director at Cerritos Nissan, says he provides vehicles to the Specification Center because of his strong professional relationship with Ken Boylan, Chief training and specifications manager.
 
“Anybody who is successful in this industry knows it’s all about the people,” he says. “I’ve known Ken for about 20 years. When he approached me about providing cars to measure, I said, ‘If you call me and you need a car, no problem. Whatever you need.’”
 
It usually takes technicians at the Specification Center about two days to completely measure and document a new vehicle. Chief measures every “all new” vehicle, as well as those that have been redesigned, re-engineered or that have significant structural changes over a previous model year. In many cases, Chief technicians must measure a number of model variations. For example, Daugherty says, the Ford F-Series truck has dozens of frame variations, all of which must be documented. Chief works closely with the vehicle manufacturers to know when a vehicle has been updated enough to require new measurements. On average, Chief measures existing vehicle platforms every three to four years.
 
For more information about the Velocity computerized measuring system or Chief vehicle specifications, contact your local Chief distributor, call 877-644-1044, or visit www.chiefautomotive.com. Chief is also active on Facebook, www.facebook.com/ChiefAutomotive; Twitter, http://twitter.com/ChiefAutomotive; and YouTube, www.youtube.com/ChiefAutomotive.

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