High-Speed Blueprinting in the Palm of Your Hand

Created on:
March 7, 2019

As Published in Fender Bender — March 2019

In February 2019, Denny Hamlin won the Daytona 500, a race that was plagued by the squeal of rubber, the crunch of metal, and bursts of fire and sparks as cars spun off the track in billowing clouds of smoke and debris.

“I’ll take the blame for that one,” said driver Paul Menard after the race.

Five hundred miles away, Marc John was fixing cars at Statesville Collision Center (SCC) in Statesville, North Carolina. Though he used to work in NASCAR, he’s not taking the blame for anything and especially not for high-speed fender benders.

“[Our shop] was looking at different measuring systems to augment our blueprinting process,” he says. “We stumbled across it in a magazine.”

“It” is the Matrix Wand 3D measuring, blueprinting and collision repair master tool. For John and SCC, it changed everything.

To Frame or Not to Frame

“You either have structural misalignment or you don’t,” John says.

As in many shops, it’s John’s job to not only make the repair, but to also ensure that any interior structural components remain aligned and within OEM-approved specifications. Using the Matrix Wand, John and his team are able to quickly, easily and accurately measure all conceivable data points — not just the most simple and visible exterior points. This concludes in 3D documentation to support the repair.

“It’s been a great tool for us — bam, bam, bam, we knock it out,” he says.

That’s what the Wand is meant to do — decrease time spent measuring and increase clarity throughout the repair process. With clarity comes solutions, and solutions equal revenue.

The Matrix Wand can do quite a bit, including (but not limited to):

  • Ensure accurate estimates the first time.
  • Blueprint the work to be carried out and identify the parts required.
  • Verify the repair by comparing points to the Mitchell Reference Database, which is integrated into the Matrix Repair Software.
  • Provide 3D documentation for insurance companies and customers to improve customer satisfaction and reduce liability.

As vehicles continue to be built with softer metal structures to better absorb collision damage, more customers are being charged for OEM component/sensor/computer realignment that they didn’t anticipate from yesterday’s fender bender.

Sergio Correa is the director of support and technical training at Matrix. He says the Wand can detect any misalignments with very minimal disassembly.

“More and more on minor hits, we are finding hidden structural damage that you can't see," he says. "Automated driver assist system (ADAS) sensors and brackets will bend and move before the mounting location or quarter panels move, which can cause failed recalibration.”

“The Wand can verify the correct angle of the sensors and brackets so we can recalibrate them correctly. That’s one of its biggest advantages.”

Marc John can verify that statement.

“We use it on almost every vehicle. For us, ease-of-use is #1,” he says. “You can do a quick measurement on a front end, and once you’re proficient with the Wand, it’s a five-, ten-minute process. Boom, you have data right now. You know whether that car needs to go on the frame machine or it doesn’t.”

The Wand also eases customer questions and provides clarity of the repair by using images of the vehicle being serviced — not a generic schematic of the same make and model.

“It’s the actual image of their car. Now, we can teach them how and why something has to change," John says.

What the Wand measures, it provides. In an increasingly visual culture, that matters.

“It’s also really good at proving if aftermarket parts fitment is incorrect,” he says. "Now, there’s no question that the structure is right or wrong. It’s easier for us to prove [the repair] isn't limited to structural.”

Measure on Sunday, Fix on Monday

“You can train anyone in the shop to use this,” John says. “It’s light. It’s portable. It’s one of the most user-friendly measuring systems out there.”

John recently attended I-CAR seminars in which he and his team received hands-on training for the Matrix Wand. What he likes about direct training with the Wand is it allows shops to keep up with manufacturers.

“Their training is 100 percent hands-on,” John says. “You’re not only learning the Wand; you’re learning where to use it, how to use it, and how you can repair the car better. This helps your bottom line because you’re finding damage that may have been missed — and finally, you’re getting paid to fix it.”

Part of the training included under-chassis measurements as well.

“Say a wheel hit — now, you’re tearing the vehicle down” he says. "It’s up in the air; you pull both wheels off for a comparative measurement and you can see which suspension parts are bent.”

Not all shops have the framing equipment to accurately measure vehicles. The Matrix Wand can ease that burden, and works with most common framing companies. The revolutionary nature of the Matrix Wand technology allows comparative vehicle measurement — like-for-like OEM measurements.

For John and SCC, the Wand has galvanized their business.

“You’re not sending data to the dealer blind, thinking, ‘I hope this goes well.’ ” John says.

“We are actually getting paid for more structural realignment because we’re finding it right now, rather than, ‘Well, the car is with the technician. They hung parts and things aren’t fitting.’ Now, we know if it measures out.”

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