National Oil & Lube News

February 2017

Digital issues of National Oil & Lube News, the trade magazine for the preventive maintenance industry

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40 NOLN | www.noln.net and security software, notably better confirma- tion of compatibility between systems and soft- ware and, finally, skilled personnel to remove all forms of malware, as well as to handle software updates. "Vehicles are mini-spaceships today, and that means they can be corrupted," warned Ken Bark- er of Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care in Waldorf, Maryland. "e same technology that makes us so great as a nation can be used as a destructive device." New Business Opportunity ese threats, along with the fact that cars will only become more sophisticated with even greater connectivity, will likely mean techni- cians will have to understand how these sys- tems operate during even routine service. One comparison today is big-box retailers, such as Best Buy, service not only computers but other connected systems in the home, as well. "When Best Buy sold PCs they had to have help desks to resolve problems, but now people are buying connected smart TVs, and Best Buy's help desk resolves those problems, as well," said John Pesatore, director of emerging security trends at SANS, a cooperative research and ed- ucation firm. "We're seeing that more and more devices — from TVs to appliances — now need a level of tech support, and the vehicle could be a future opportunity for the auto service industry." In the case of the Jeep recall — as well as other software-related recalls — drivers could download the software themselves, but as these threats increase, it could require a trip to the dealer or, likely, a third-party shop. "In the future, offering this type of service will be essential; it could be the 'high-tech' technician or the software technician," said Trish Serratore, president of the National Automotive Techni- cians Education Foundation and the Automotive Youth Educational Systems (NATEF/AYES). "It isn't unrealistic to think that very soon an auto service business will have to have an IT guy to do these software updates," explained Kyle Landry, research associate at Lux Research. "Some software, such as Tesla's Auto-Pilot, was pushed through with a software update, but these aren't the sort of updates everyone can do themselves." As the systems become more complicated — with driving assist features, entertainment and communication technology — the software could require more frequent updates. Some of this may be simple push updates that are au- tomatic and, thus, similar to those on a mobile phone, but if there is corruption of the software or, worse, malware, which could require a profes- sional reinstallation of software to resolve the problems. "For service shops, this could be an opportuni- ty to help customers with their software-related issues," Pescatore said. "is is a growth area, and the auto industry service businesses could see this as a new revenue stream." Some shops have already been exploring offer- ing computer software services for vehicles. For Precision Auto Care, this has been business as usual for 20 years. "Since 1996 and even prior, we have been updating and doing fresh installs and also rein- stalls on automotive computer modules," said Joel Burrows, vice president for training and re- search and development at Precision Auto Care, Inc. "Software updates are common today to fix ongoing issues, and service facilities that are ded- icated to training and keeping up-to-date with the latest technology and necessary equipment must be able to perform these programming functions to be competitive in the automotive aftermarket." New Hardware Can Mean New Software Another aspect of software updates is in many instances, when a part is replaced in the car, the computer software must be updated to accept the new part. For this reason, Pre- cision Auto Care is already training its techni- cians to be automotive IT experts. "ey must understand the data network and how each computer module communicates to problem solve," Burrows added. "It is not just enough to understand how the network com- munication works, but more importantly, how all the operating systems on the vehicle work in conjunction with the computer network." At present, the malware any tech really needs to deal with is the programming glitches that come from the factory. "ese are usually fixed out in the field with a software update," Burrow said. As this type of update becomes more com- mon, the entire auto service industry may re- quire technicians to undergo even more specific training to handle these tasks. "We already believe in continuous training," Serratore said. "is is an ongoing issue where technicians need to upgrade their skills, and with the increase in software-based systems, we're go- ing to see individuals enter the industry with this new skill set. We'll also see technicians who enjoy this type of work and can add these new skills to the tool box they already have." However, Burrows was quick to note com- puters are a new addition to cars, which means techs still need to be automotive techs first and IT techs second. "Vehicles ran perfectly fine long before laptop computers and cell phones were even a gleam in someone's eye watching an original Star Trek episode for the first time," Burrows joked. "e basic non-computerized systems must be oper- ating properly before you can start pointing the blame to the computer network." S

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