New Technology: How Does It Affect You?

It’s a truism we know all too well: Nothing stays the same. Life is change, and change challenges us. Those who learn how to adapt, succeed.

One of the biggest challenges regarding change today is the pace at which technology is changing. It’s not just operating systems and computer technology that pushes our buttons and often leaves us confused. Automotive advances have pushed us in a multitude of directions we never expected. Who would have ever imagined 50 years ago that cars would have hundreds of electronic sensors mashing millions of data bits to help your car make decisions during a routine trip to the grocery store. One sensor alone on an advanced autonomous car gathers 2.2 million data points a second, according to wired.com. Other types of sensors in today’s engines include mass airflow sensors, engine speed sensors, oxygen sensors, spark knock sensors (that make sure the fuel is burning smoothly), fuel temperature sensors and the voltage sensor.

Other Ways Technology Challenges Us

When sensors trigger dashboard lights, technicians must use sophisticated equipment to interpret the messages they are sending. Some of this equipment is expensive, and when something really new comes along, how do we know how much is hype and how much is real? Do I need the new device? How much time will it take to learn how to use it and use it reliably? Should I be on the forefront, or should I wait until the new has been tested and fine-tuned? Maybe “first to market” is not always best. How do I know?

Upgrades to our existing systems are expensive. How do we determine when older equipment is hurting our business because it’s slow or inefficient? My friend recently had an oil change in which it took the technician more time to reset the dashboard light than it did to do the oil change. On a busy day, this kind of inefficiency could be costing your business money.

One of the biggest challenges regarding change today is the pace at which technology is changing.

Where Can I Get Reliable Information?

Getting reliable information on the pros and cons of an issue can also be challenging. Corn growers, for example, love the 2007 legislation that requires ethanol be blended into gasoline. I had no say in the matter, whatever the pros and cons of the decision, but what I quickly learned was that the new ethanol-blended fuels were soon leading to unintended negative consequences. Among these, we found that ethanol (which is an alcohol) causes corrosion when in contact with certain materials, so it dries out rubber components in the fuel system. In addition, ethanol is hygroscopic. That is to say, it likes water, and when moisture enters fuel containers (a common problem in high-humidity regions), it is absorbed by the ethanol, which then separates from the gasoline and, being heavier than gas, enters the engine to do various kinds of damage.

I’m not ready to fight City Hall or the Renewable Fuels Standard. Rather, I am doing what you need to do. Help your customers solve the problems associated with change rather than live with the consequences of closing their eyes to it. This is why it is important for me, personally, to not only carry products that solve real-world problems, but also to have information our customers can consume and really grasp.

Change causes problems, but it also creates opportunities for your business.

Your aim is to have answers for your customers, so they feel confident about what you say. For this reason, the pace of change requires a commitment to staying current with what is happening in our industry. Keeping up through associations and trade publications like this one is vital.

It may not seem like it at times, but your business is on the line every day. Every day you are cementing relationships with your customers or damaging them. This is why we can never be passive about change. Learning about new technologies keeps us on our toes and keeps us one step ahead of the competition. As I stated in the beginning, change challenges us, but those who learn how to adapt will learn to succeed. So, stay current, and make sure your team is up-to-date, as well.

Amber Kossak

Amber Kossak is president and CEO of Solid Start, manufacturer of True Brand Products. She has been in the automotive industry for almost 20 years and is serving on the AOCA board of directors. She can be contacted at: kossak@solidstart.biz