SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS
Today, there can easily be 75 to 100 Electronic Control Units (ECU) in a medium-sized passenger car. To interpret the functionality or faults with these ECUs requires a diagnostic function.
Originally diagnostic tools were developed by the vehicle manufacturers themselves and supplied to their main dealers. Such equipment would comprehensively diagnose a complete vehicle, but the equipment was incredibly hard if not impossible to buy in the Aftermarket. Even if a workshop managed to buy such equipment, it would need different tools for each vehicle manufacturer.
In response to this situation, aftermarket diagnostic companies like Autologic have come to the fore. These aftermarket diagnostic equipment suppliers have developed multi-make diagnostic devices so that Aftermarket workshops can have access to the necessary diagnosis across a wide fleet of vehicles.
From its AutologicLive centres in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia, Autologic provides a comprehensive diagnostics solution which has been built from the ground up to deal with the challenges of today’s more complex European vehicles.
“Established in 1999 and with customers in over 120 countries, Autologic Diagnostics is changing the game in aftermarket diagnostics, by going beyond the diagnosis stage, and all the way through to fixing the car,” Autologic Diagnostics Australian Manager, Matt Douglass, said.
“Autologic Diagnostics opened its Technical support and distribution centre in Mulgrave, Melbourne in 2012 to better support customers and distributors in the Australian/NZ markets.
“Since then, we have expanded to support Asian markets too. We are seeing the number of European vehicles in the carpark, growing every year in Australia and workshops are challenged everyday with complex faults on these cars.
“If the owner and his technicians have the ability to accurately read and seek advice on those faults from experts, they will be able to complete diagnostics with less fuss and have confidence to take on these jobs in the future.”
Andrew Betteley, the CTO for Autologic Diagnostics, says that getting the diagnostic tool communicating with a vehicle correctly and capturing the data is only the first part.
Autologic has its tools seamlessly connect with its Technical Support Centres in UK, USA and Melbourne, so Aftermarket customers can connect with Brand Master Technicians who will provide them with diagnostic and repair support. Autologic’s technicians can then see the car and in-vehicle data in real-time and together with their resources, databases and hands-on experience walk technicians through the repair of the vehicle.
“Autologic offers full bumper to bumper European Diagnostic software. For the vehicle brands that we have developed software for, we are able to diagnose every single variant of every ECU on that vehicle,” Betteley said.
“It’s always possible that new variants of ECU appear in the market before we have developed the correct software – but we have that covered too.
“Working alongside our Master Technicians, we have software developers who can similarly see the real-time in-vehicle data and we frequently will develop custom software for our customers so that they can continue with their job and fix the car.”
According to Matt, Autologic’s success is partly owed to specialising on a particular range of European vehicles
“We know what we do and do it well. We don’t cover a wide manufacturer fleet like other tools. However, for the brands that we cover we ensure that we can diagnose every system on every vehicle. Our coverage is deep and comprehensive,” Matt said.
“Having software engineers and vehicle technicians working together side by side enables us to develop software and deliver technical support that – to be blunt – just fixes cars!”
Obviously one of the biggest issues for suppliers of Aftermarket diagnostic equipment is the rate of change in technologies and vehicle software and keeping up to date with new vehicle releases.
With the pace at which technology change is influencing car design and the driving experience, it is ever more important that both diagnostic equipment suppliers, and the end user in the workshop, ensures software and equipment is up to date.
Autologic engages and works across many different industry groups including vehicle manufacturers, national associations, legislators, and aftermarket groups.
It says its view has always been that the correctly supported Aftermarket will strengthen and support the OEMs within their space and indeed protect and strengthen their brand value.
“Our mission is to ensure that vehicles in the aftermarket are diagnosed, repaired, parts replaced and configured to the same standards and requirements that a vehicle manufacturer would expect within their own network,” Andrew said.
“We achieve this through not taking an adversarial approach to manufacturers, but one whereby we engage directly with them as we develop our applications.
“Similarly, we need to ensure that our technicians’ own experience is kept up to date and so we invest heavily in factory training for our staff so that they have the latest knowledge and eyes on new products and technology before our customers see the vehicles in their shops.”
So, what is the future for Automotive Diagnostics? According to Andrew, connectivity and the ‘connected car’ is where the industry is ultimately headed, but it doesn’t spell the end of the bricks and mortar workshop, just as Amazon hasn’t killed off shopping malls.
“In the very short term, we will see the wide spread adoption of Diagnostics over Internet Protocol (DoIP) in vehicles,” Andrew said.
“Autologic have always been on the front foot when developing new hardware technologies –
we were the only Aftermarket company to introduce an optical interface to program BMW MOST control units 12 years ago. Similarly, we developed BMW Ethernet – now DoIP, long before it was a common interface.
“DoIP will enable much larger and faster transfers of data between diagnostic tools and vehicles. We have this functionality already working on our Blue Boxes and AssistPlus platform.
“Longer term this is a really interesting question. Connectivity and the Connected Car is an obvious answer as it’s becoming ubiquitous – linking the car and consumer to the outside world and data services – and it will be interesting to see how this changes diagnosis and repair.
“I think we will probably see an increase in services such as remote diagnostics, but I can’t see these replacing the need for vehicles being brought to workshops for full diagnosis and repair.
“Obviously the complexity of vehicles is increasing rapidly, we are seeing typical Fault Reports of 30 to 40 Diagnostic Trouble Codes whereas 15 years ago it may have been four or five.
“There are increasing dependencies between electronic systems, Technicians evermore need to be on-site with the vehicle that they are diagnosing and repairing, and I don’t see this changing for some time.”
For more from Autologic, visit www.autologic.com