BMW’s ADAS technology demands next-level repair protocols

Two men standing next to a BMW

Glen Keddie, Bodyshop Network Development Manager for BMW Group Australia, says next-generation thinking and a strong insurance partnership are essential for maintaining the integrity of BMW vehicles.

The internal combustion engine was invented close to 140 years ago, yet modern cars operate in much the same way today as they did back then. One thing that has changed, however, is the range of driver assistance and safety technologies. Vehicle technicians working only two or three decades ago might scarcely believe some of the advances that have been made.

For premium car manufacturer BMW, with its Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) technology, the adoption of interconnected safety systems has required a national accredited BMW Bodyshop shop network. These workshops repair BMW models to beyond Original Equipment Manufacturer standard, and ensure that technicians who service and repair BMW vehicles receive factory certified training to keep pace with new technologies.

Not only are BMW’s ADAS technologies a critical component of the brand’s vehicle offering, they continue to develop in complexity as next-generation powertrains and power electronics are brought to market.

We spoke to Glenn Keddie, Bodyshop Network Development Manager for BMW Group Australia, about the service programs and processes needed to maintain the integrity of BMW’s ADAS systems.

1. Tell us about BMW's ADAS1 technology and the importance BMW assigns to it.

GK: BMW Group vehicles feature in excess of 22 interconnected safety systems. However, as we move into the new era of electrified vehicles, we are now seeing 40-plus networked safety systems in our vehicles to further enhance and evolve our safety capability for occupants.

BMW Group vehicles are already some of the most technically advanced on the market. A generic approach to repairing such sophisticated vehicles is insufficient, which is why we have established a national Accredited BMW Bodyshop network with 45 sites where we employ globally certified technicians to repair BMW Group models to a beyond-OEM standard.

2. What considerations need to be given to BMW repairs and servicing to accommodate the latest ADAS technology?

GK: BMW Group has evolved the repair process to incorporate a full and thorough vehicle triage process. It starts with de-commissioning of the vehicle to ensure it’s safe to work on, followed by an inspection and full diagnostic analysis with BMW-approved diagnostic equipment. Once these steps are completed an accurate quote can be provided based on a diagnostic report that indicates if and how the safety systems were affected by the incident. This will assist in a shorter repair time, a more accurate quote and fewer supplementary claims.

At the end of the repair process, a second diagnostic analysis determines if any additional calibration is required. Once all elements have been addressed, the vehicle can be fully cleared as safe for service following reset of remaining codes with diagnostics.

BMW-approved diagnostics are pivotal to ensure appropriate analysis and in light of the fact we now update our vehicles remotely over the air using wi-fi. Outdated or non-approved diagnostic equipment may not read the systems correctly, which can be detrimental to the vehicle's operation and the safety of its occupants.

3. What steps does BMW take to ensure its vehicles are repaired or serviced to meet its customers’ high expectations?

GK: BMW Group has dedicated and constantly evolving factory-certified training programs for body and paint technicians, estimators, business owners and insurance assessors. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic we introduced web-based training for our network that enabled us to keep our professionals trained, informed and up to speed with all developments at a time when face-to-face learning was impossible. It was so successful, with such a high take-up, that it has become a permanent fixture of our training program offerings.

We also conduct annual audits on brand representation, facilities, tooling and equipment to ensure our sites are not only presented in the most professional matter but also have the capability to repair to the highest standards.

Over the next 12 months we will release the next level of repair standards while also enhancing our specialist training to deal with the latest materials used in the manufacture of BMW Group vehicles. For example, last month we launched a new training program to equip BMW Bodyshop professionals with the knowledge and skills to diagnose and repair carbon fibre. This training keeps us at the forefront of the industry and enables us to provide the most updated service offering to our customers.

4. Why is the Genuine Parts Guarantee important to BMW customers?

GK: BMW genuine parts are engineered and tested for strength and reliability to maintain expected safety and quality standards, while also helping ensure a high residual value for the vehicle. BMW Group uses highly advanced technology that has its roots in the aviation industry to constantly monitor the vehicle's environment for systems such as cruise control and collision prevention. In addition to sophisticated camera systems, BMW uses short, medium and long-range radar, as well as Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technology and thermal imaging.

All systems are coupled with advanced and learning algorithms while also being calibrated to work completely in unison with BMW genuine parts. Use of non-genuine or parallel parts can impact the vehicle's ability to operate as it was designed and engineered, including its repair and safety system integrity.

BMW Premier Insurance, underwritten by Allianz, includes a Genuine Parts Guarantee.2

5. Describe the relationship between BMW and Allianz – why is the partnership between manufacturer and insurer so essential?

GK: It’s a very strong one that provides mutual benefits to both parties. We appreciate the comprehensive level of service and cover provided by Allianz, while we can support that with a vehicle line-up that has been engineered with the highest level of repair integrity and advanced safety systems to protect vehicle occupants. Ultimately, everything we do is to achieve a superior solution for our customers.

BMW Premier Motor Insurance is provided by Allianz Australia Insurance Limited (Allianz) ABN 15 000 122 850, AFS Licence No. 234708.

1 BMW’s safety-critical ADAS applications include the likes of Pedestrian detection/avoidance, Lane departure warning/correction, Traffic sign recognition, Automatic emergency braking, and Blind spot detection. See an overview of the main driver assistance systems incorporated in every BMW.

2 If we are unable to repair the part, new genuine manufacturer parts will be used where locally available or genuine reconditioned or recycled manufacturer parts where a new part is not available. Where a genuine new or used part is not locally available we may use parts that meet Australian Design Rules.