As vehicles become increasingly harder to access, investing in the right diagnostic solution has never been so important for independents. Hayley Pells, Director of Avia Autos, discusses why the award-winning business has chosen the Delphi Technologies DS180 BlueTech tool to help secure its future.
With roots in race car preparation, 16 years’ experience of servicing all makes and models, plus in-house MOT, tyre replacement and full alignment facilities, Avia Autos can comfortably meet the maintenance requirements of a whole host of motorists.
However, rather than rely on its award-winning expertise and enviable reputation alone, the Bridgend-based independent recognises that while its past experience has allowed it to become firmly established, it is only by looking to the future that the family-run business can continue to prosper in a rapidly-evolving aftermarket.
“We’re a second-generation business and although my father spent decades building and working on single seaters and sports cars after originally starting out as a normal garage in the 1970s, we’ve come full circle to be a very traditional independent repairer,” said Hayley Pells, Director of Avia Autos. “Compared to the race cars my father worked on in the 1970s, the majority of what we do today is more routine, but there’s no doubt that the cars we are seeing are becoming more complex. Future-proofing the business is something of utmost importance to us, so embracing the technology and training that will allow us to cater for the latest and most advanced vehicles is something we are always keen to explore.”
To help ready itself for servicing a future vehicle parc that encompasses myriad powertrain options, and which is proving increasingly hard for the independent to access, Avia Autos has turned to Delphi Technologies for both training and equipment solutions.
Pells completed the popular EV & Hybrid Level 3 IMI qualification via Delphi Technologies. Her father Andy and technician, Connor, also have the same qualification, meaning that the entire Avia Autos workshop can work on electrified vehicles.
Connor is also studying for Master Technician status via the Delphi Technologies Academy e-learning platform, while, notably, the garage is an early adopter of Delphi Technologies’ next generation diagnostic tool, the DS180 BlueTech.
Introduced in late 2021, the BlueTech tool is five times more powerful than its predecessor, delivers faster vehicle scan times than ever before, and boasts new integrations such as CAN FD, multiple CAN channels, and DoIP (Diagnostics over Internet Protocol) that offer garages cost-effective and intuitive access to the latest troubleshooting methods.
The specification also includes Pass-Thru capability, which opens the door to services such as ECU programming that were previously the preserve of franchised dealers and their OE-specific tools, as well as the support and calibration of most modern ADAS features. Ease-of-use is also a key attribute of the BlueTech tool. For example, with the built-in Flight Recorder mechanics can record a range of parameters during a solo road test, ready for review and analysis once safely back in the workshop.
“We were certainly familiar with Delphi Technologies as we’ve fitted its products for 16 years, and I’d say the majority of what we install is made by the brand, mainly because of the coverage,” added Pells, who is also Council, Head of Garage section for the IAAF and a Technical Consultant to the IMI.
“This was our first time with a diagnostic provision from the brand though, so it was a very new experience moving over to a Delphi Technologies system.
“I was aware that the BlueTech tool existed on the market and had seen it utilised during the delivery of the Level 3 EV course, but it wasn’t until last year’s AutoInform event in Wolverhampton that I was able to gain a greater understanding of its capability. I was also presenting at the time, but my husband attended the Delphi Technologies briefing and simply said I needed it. That said, it’s a big investment and we won’t upgrade equipment unless we need to, so it had to fit our requirements.”
Pells continued: “It was the first to be supplied by my local motor factor and it arrived just before Christmas, so we spent the shutdown period learning the system and loading it onto our PCs. Admittedly, we had a few teething issues, mostly due to diving straight in and not seeking assistance, and the transition from the tablet-based solutions that we were used to was a little strange at first, but it’s been a big catalyst in driving a cultural change in how we now approach vehicles when they enter the workshop. Previously, we’d just plug a tool in if there was a service light on the dashboard or we needed to take out a service light, but now a vehicle is immediately scanned before we do anything else.
“We’ve reorganised the workshop to suit how important it is to us, with our first bay now serving as our dedicated diagnostic and service ramp. The BlueTech tool sits on its own computer at the front of the ramp and links up to a huge screen, so we can sit in the car and see what’s going on. We’ve put our PicoScope on the same computer and, noticeably, we’re using the tool’s guided diagnostics more and more.
“Beforehand, if we were carrying out diagnostics we’d have to go to the storage cupboard, unlock it and take out the equipment. Now, the Delphi Technologies unit is as integrated into the workshop as the ramp is. It’s helped us to go down the route that bigger independent garages and main dealers commonly adopt, where an area of the workshop is dedicated to a certain task.
“At the moment, it’s serving primarily as a diagnostics tool and we’re building our familiarity first before we start to explore
its full capabilities. Once we increase our understanding of it, we’ll start onboarding all the other functions, with ADAS recalibration likely to be first. We viewed it as a stepping stone to our ADAS investment and we plan to purchase the modular ADAS equipment from Delphi Technologies. That’s why we went for this kit, as we wanted a special piece of equipment that would cover everything we wanted to do in the future. It’s this that really sets the BlueTech apart and I can’t think of anything else that currently matches it.”
Once Pells and the Avia Autos team have mastered ADAS, the Security Gateway and Pass-Thru functions are likely to be the next that the garage will explore.
“Connectivity is a real concern for the aftermarket. It does feel that independents are being walled out by the manufacturers and this is going to be one of the tools that makes vehicles still accessible to standalone garages,” added Pells.
“The need to use dealer diagnostics software to access vehicles is becoming increasingly commonplace, but it’s something that’s easier to negotiate than many think, plus you’d be surprised how affordable the information can be. Paying for it may seem alien at first, but with the advent of consumer streaming services like Netflix, we’re now far more used to the idea of subscription-based access.
“Having the ability to now perform software updates is something we’re very excited about, and it’s having the relevant tools to perform these kind of tasks that will keep independents in business. Everything in the workshop of the future is going to be much more entwined, from parts stock to technical data to predicted labour costs to diagnostics, and with the BlueTech tool we have an integrated product that will grow with the business. That’s what I’m really looking forward to from Delphi Technologies and the tool, the integrated experience.”