12-Volt Training: The Investment with Serious ReturnMarch 5, 2014 By Brett Solomon
OK, let’s just put it out there. Aftermarket installation technicians have it harder than residential technicians when it comes to wiring. Why? Because the vehicles have become so much more challenging to work on.
If we look at the dashboard, the simple dash cavity has become an aftermarket ‘perfect-fit’ nightmare. We used to get excited if the dash cavity would be a double-DIN so we could add a double-DIN head unit, or perhaps a head unit and an EQ. Now we get excited if we are lucky enough to get a standard double-DIN head unit. The audio control buttons have become spread around the center console like contraband items around the Bieber household!
On the residential side, there is still sheetrock, Romex, and a large electrical panel in the basement. And switches are typically located about three-and-a-half feet from the floor. Now, it can be argued that the high-tech home of the future is becoming more complex by having low-voltage control over high-voltage circuitry. In other words, giving your iPhone the ability to dim the lights and lower the blinds. In the car, we used to use relays to accomplish these tasks (or more like honk the horn and flash the parking lights in an alarm install), but now, because of databus networks, we need specialty interfaces to communicate with the vehicle. In the home, that isn’t necessary yet.
But all isn’t bad in the world of 12-volt. Just because our wiring became harder, we created interfaces so we could work smarter. The ability to flash a module from a smartphone so it can communicate with the vehicle is a lifesaver – especially if you are an expeditor 50 miles away from home base and the customer is about to pick up the new vehicle delivery in 15 minutes. Moreover, whereas home technicians run into a new problem in every house they visit, once we master the new Mazda 3, we can replicate the results for the next 2014 Mazda 3 that rolls through our bay doors.
Now we just need to figure out a way to get our data from our smartphone on that awesome OEM heads-up display!
Another issue that is topical after CES is where to look to fill up our stockrooms – if at all. I cut my teeth on the tried-and-true manufacturer’s representative who delivers great service and knowledge. Of course, that also means higher prices and hard sales at the end of the month. A lot of retailers have gone to the distributor route. ‘Why stock if they can stock?’