10/08/2018 by I-CAR
Designing vehicles with repairability in mind isn’t just a passing thought, but rather a critical process, and example of how the collision repair ecosystem works upstream with the OEM community. Collision Reporter recently caught up with Gerry Bonanni, Senior Damageability Engineer at Ford Motor Company, to learn the importance of designing vehicles with repairability in mind.
1. When people think about a new car, they think of something sleek and shiny; what’s it like thinking of vehicles exclusively from a lens of damage and repairability?
First, you have to look at it on the computer and see how the materials are layered and what they are composed of. Then, as the program moves forward, we work with crash safety vehicles, many of which are heavily damaged, and they provide us with a unique opportunity to do sample repairs, pulling, sectioning, and so on.
2. During your process, you’re thinking of how you can ease repairs, but ultimately the most efficient way to safely and completely return a vehicle to its pre-loss integrity. What other factors come into consideration?
Many things are on our minds. If you have an easy-to-repair structure, but an aspect of a mechanical system is in a precarious position in a collision, then the damageability performance and rating of the vehicle may be compromised. We review anything that can affect the overall repair situations of the design.
3. Your role was perhaps most illuminated in the production of the F150. Break down that process for me. What was it like working upstream with I-CAR so that the repair guidelines were in place the moment the vehicle was launched to the public?
We began working on the 2015 F-150 in 2009. Starting that far in advance allowed us to ask the design team for unique and easy-to-service vehicle architecture features. Engaging I-CAR before the introduction of the vehicle was key in making sure we had repair procedures documented, training developed, and hundreds of technicians trained before the vehicle was launched.
4. How has the role of a damageability engineer evolved, and what is the future of the profession?
I feel that the role has always been essential, and will only continue to grow in importance as vehicles become more complex, with hybrid features and materials that are lightweight and offer strength, safety, and manufacturing opportunities.
5. Finally, any insights on future skills required to properly make quality repairs?
Very simple: train fully, research always, and apply those skills and information to make the very best and safest repairs. We all have families and loved ones, so build that vehicle back as if they were going to be in it, and always follow the OEM and industry guidelines.
Want more Q&A with Gerry? Visit I-CAR.com/CollisionReporter/Training to view more questions and answers with Gerry, as well as his biography.