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: Do you do auto interior work around airbags?  ( 4513 )
baileyuph
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« : May 20, 2015, 07:42:59 AM »

Recent car manufacturers have increased the use of airbags, they are everywhere now -seats, dash, and all over the head liners.

From someone who actually started working on car interiors before "bags", things have changed and along the way the liability of doing your work has changed - potentially big time!

Just a question to learn how others who work on and around auto air bags while doing the interior work are working smartly?

A few questions as a start:

  a.  Had any training?  Where was it found?
  b.  Are there any training or hepful documents?
  c.  Since it is an option, do you just elect to not touch the work where air
       bags are involved to negate any liability?
  
This is something to start thinking about because air bags aren't the only devices in
autos that need understanding - for example the "backup" alarms not to mention the
ongoing discussions about auto self driving technology that apparently is close.  The reality of all this can add to liability of anyone who works on autos, for if an upholstery auto job entails work on or near one of these pieces of equipment could spread liability because wires and circuits can be connected to or around upholstery.  Clear I hope?

This subject is brought up because some business people have stated that they won't touch an auto upholstery repair that pulls them into dealing with safety features - air bags.  We all know, business managers have to understand their risk in what they tackle.

So, how are you dealing with this type of matter? 

Another point, some time in the past, there was a furniture upholstery shop that worked on a piece that failed - injuring the owner.  Never knew how that worked out,  there can be risks everywhere for business people.

Doyle

« : May 20, 2015, 07:46:13 AM DB »
brmax
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« #1 : May 20, 2015, 09:06:32 AM »

I will jump in here to offer a few tips or points of experience to look into.

A. To answer the ? in the topic "not yet".

 1. Training for myself was in electronic areas of instruction specific to Auto and HD Equip. These are either Mfg. purchased as mine from employers, or mine obtained for a start or further personal advancement, I.E. College credit hours of instruction. ( everyone looks at all these differently ) as I did hiring in this arena.

 2. I just yesterday received the notifications my Master ASE certifications were expiring these are every 5 year " measurement " test, an we all love test right, and no they are not free nor easy.
In many companies its a " pay " incentive or demotion, of course all the responsibility to as mine.

  b. In equipment there are acronyms like TSB's tech service bulletins, for quick reference specifics.

  c. I will chase some information for the group if it will help, as now I have only looked a bit into thread specifics in these areas for the possible repair and would suggest this as a start.

  d. Every service document of late " last 15 years" I recall had at the start Air bag deployment precautions and how to work within the rules with what procedures to take " prior " to start of task work planned.

Finally: The industry has pc programs to offer the Pro shop in specific procedures of repair, troubleshooting with related information, I just gave away 3 big boxes of Pro Mitchel, Gm, Deere, dadada repair manuals to a nephew that's been through the mechanic associate degree program.
 something I cannot resist: when you see the dang 2'Wx5'L box thats in front of every 28 year old wrench, you can say to yourself, hmm well I guess if they spend 10,000.00 "on an empty" box then when it full its probably very very close to 35,000. possibly they have an interest. (that's the facts)

How would I deal with this new fangled work ?
 
At this website, and others linked into it with members from them as well.

Good day everyone
brmax
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« #2 : May 21, 2015, 08:54:58 AM »

  I think another first professional step is to ask or search our memberships, associations and other pro suppliers for leads on this.
as these vendors must hear this everyday.
 Great topic and thanks

  The articles or postings in magazines possibly shed some light on this and would benefit the industry.
Simply the groups we pay and or just look to for rule and specification setting is where we start.  Im not sure how much of the industry involved with custom recovering, repairing or any other term used wants to apply in any special equipment or certifications.
This task specific is another main focus the organizations we belong to can put in there agenda, and its been there a good while so some great answers should already be out there.
I "believe" in years past Coats supplied the # 45 nylon bonded thread globaly for these upholstery area covered items in the topic.

Electrical powers and voltage to these items are controlled by the BCM -body control computers, or the other on vehicle systems.
These system items have to be connected properly for OEM functions, they also have a "specific" disconnect procedures and in repair status (power down and kept that way until repair is made) It is still possible in some that a recalibration and or reset the pc.
I will say in ending that these repairs need to be made and this topic should move right along to some answers.

I hope this kick starts the slowdown!
good day
Mojo
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« #3 : May 28, 2015, 02:29:41 PM »

Doyle:

Obviously I do not have a horse in this race as I do not do auto upholstery. But I will give you my take on the liability issues.

Back in my corporate days I had to know contractual law and contract writing as well as risk assessment in the areas I worked within. At one time had a law library, books all given to me by a buddy who was a lawyer and updated his own law library. I studied contractual and tort law and I can tell you that during the event of a law suit in which negligence is a factor, it is standard procedure for the plantiff's attorney to sue anyone and everyone that had anything to do with the defendant. They then go back and weed out those who are not the major players in a law suit during the discovery process.

Thus, if one of your customers has a car accident and gets his face or chest knocked in by an air bag   and there is significant injury, once they find you worked on an upholstery item in that area your going to get served with legal papers. It may not have anything to do with you or your work and it may not be your fault but chances are that your going to get nailed anyways and have to hire a lawyer ( unless you have liability insurance ).

I guess in your case you would have to weigh the pro's and con's of this type of work. Do you do enough of it and are your profit margins large enough to make the risk worthwhile ? Or is it cheaper in the long run to pass on all of this type of work, especially if it is only occasional requests to perform this type of work.

Myself, I wouldn't touch a job that had anything to do with the safety devices in a car such as air bags, etc.

My 2 cents worth,

Chris 
baileyuph
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« #4 : May 29, 2015, 07:45:16 AM »

Chris,

Your overview of business risk can play out much the way you describe. 

Mitigating risk is part of business, the smarter a business person becomes about their business does reduce that factor.  The auto upholstery dimension of our business does not seem to include many on this site.  The roll seems to have shrunk, over recent times.

There is another discussion board that the focus is only on the auto sector.  Going forward, that direction will undoubtly present the most topical information.

Risk is to be taken serious, no matter the dimension of business one engages and your overview is how the legal minds and consumers react today.  They may not cut a lot of slack and the opportunity for error seems to be increasing.  Furniture upholstery is not an exception.  For example, those customers don't want their home or furnishings damaged but it can happen homes damaged moving and furnishings as well. 

Regarding the auto related question, I have done extensive study of information on the net and auto technical material to learn what is in these auto and how to handle the electronics associated and gain an understanding of the mechanical and upholstery associated.  It is not simple, things only get simple when all the answers are learned.

To add to the issue, engineering of all cars is not the same, for example European autos have their differences, as well as other manufacturers.  So, that means if a business is in the game, they better continue to study to stay on top of this and all matters related to their business.

Thank you for your input, it is an over view of how things usually can work and how risk can accumulate.

Doyle
Mojo
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« #5 : May 29, 2015, 10:47:50 AM »

Doyle:

Here is a great case study for you that kind of centers on the same thing - liability.

I was faced with a decision two years ago in regards to making fabric replacements for patio awnings which go on motorcoaches. The manufacturer has a goofy way of making these which all relates to a certain taper on center and side seams as well as the cheap light weight acrylic fabric they use which is specially made for them by Glen Raven. They also make these panels ass backwards and run their seams perpendicular versus parallel.

I made a replacement and it nearly destroyed the automated assembly the customer had on his $ 3/4 mil bus. I talked with an engineer from the manufacturer and he actually laughed and said " we have our own way of making the fabric panels. ". Could I have figured it out ? Yes in time I could. But I still have clearance issues within the assembly itself due to fabric thickness.

I had to do a risk assessment and came to the conclusion that any money I would have made off making these replacements could be negated by the liability if my product destroyed the assembly. The assemblies cost big buck's ( $ 4 grand and up ) and I also had to think of our reputation in the event something like this happened. I begged off and we now have a policy that we will not do them. It isn't worth the liability and I realized I cannot be all things to all customers.

We have enough liability with each product we sell as it is. People think it is so easy doing what we do but our customer base are influential people and the RV Industry is a very small circle. We screw something up and the RV world will know. If we send out a fabric replacement that is off on a given measurement we can be on the hook for $ 500 - $ 1,000 just in liability costs. Our customers pay alot of money to have our products installed and many burn alot of fuel going to an out of town service center to have our replacements installed. If we screw up then they have to repeat the entire process ( trip, resort fee's, fuel, labor costs, etc. ) and we end up paying the bill. Thankfully in our almost 10 years of existence we have only had one screw up and I wrote a check without hesitation.

If I owned an auto trim shop you can bet we would not be doing any work that had to do with air bags. I would not want the liability and I am sure any insurance company would charge a premium for this type of work. Now here is a question for you.

Let's say you did have to do work on a seat or headliner that had an air bag involved. Would you charge your normal hourly rate or would you increase your prices because of the increased liability ?Are auto trimmers doing this now and bumping their rates due to the risk involved with air bags ?

Chris
baileyuph
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« #6 : May 29, 2015, 08:13:39 PM »

Chris,

Some shops will not touch, some do part of the upholstery repair/replacement requirements as they learn the vehicle which is tough to do because of limited sources.

These vehicles are evolving, really difficult to keep up.

Rates will vary by area, dealers do the warranty work, but out of warranty work is mostly, if not all, done by the private shops.  In this area their rates are respectively, something close to a $!00 at the shop and over that at the dealer. 

One thing the dealer will do to minimize higher technical training is just replace the entire seat (bolted to floor.  I know of a couple situations where it was handled that way.

The awning system sounds like it was frustrating.  So, are you saying it was tapered meaning wider at the coach than the opposite end?  Plus the clearances for fabric thickness was critial, fabric weight also? 

Question is after this experience, if you had all the needed specs, couldn't you make a usable replacement product?

Or is the manufacturer the only source, when a replacement is needed?  I suspect due to all the sensitivites, that is the way aftermarket is being satisfied.

Can't know too much in the business we all are practicing in, the learning process continues, seeminly at a faster rate as time passes and new higher technical vehicles are made.

Interesting, thanks for sharing.

Doyle
RiCat
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« #7 : May 30, 2015, 04:43:39 AM »

Air bags and other technical issues concerning late model cars is an interesting subject. The deal with air bags is just one of the aspects of the technology being incorporated into autos. What about air inflated lumbar and side bolster airbags built into the seats with garbage rubber bladders that tear when touched (I have dealt with this back in the day with piece of crap Vettes), built in ass cooling air conditioners, having to use the heating elements again when inserting a seat that is heated, 12v activated cylinoids that activate auto locking mechanisms on built in shoulder seat belt harnesses (just got done pulling my hair out with this on a retro fit for a show car), automatic sensors that puts the electric seat in place on a predetermined setting - read a story about this that the trimmer took the seat out, set it on the table and BAM - broke the sensors in the bottom of the track - $1200 replacement!

Specifically, it was air bags that got me away from late model autos. Chris is absolutely spot on. The liability issues involved is not worth it. I have dwelt with insurance company's before and trust me, they will grow fangs looking for any and all ways to not have to pay out money. If I do a side panel insert with a built in air bag where that seam has to blow open for proper deployment of the air bag, what is the correct thread to use? What is the proper stitch length? What is the proper tension? As mentioned, is the specs for a US car the same as a Japanese or European car?   

I worked on a Jetta one time putting in a headliner. There was air bags under each pillar post molding. Attached the the plastic pillar post molding was a string. The purpose of the string was to make sure the pillar post molding went a certain direction when the air bag deployed. Do I need to share what a pain in the ass it was making sure that string did not come loose where it was barely glued to the molding when I had to get the molding out of the way to take the h/l board out of the car? Another example of the specs involved in air bags. Back about 4 yrs ago we bought a new Mazda SUV. We were inquiring about having Katzkins put on. We were informed by the dealer that we would have to sign a waiver of liability with them because of the built in air bags on the front backrest. The deal was, the air bags were set to register the weight of the factory cloth seat covers, and since Katzkins were leather - thus heavier - the air bags might not deploy properly in an accident. Really??? Seriously??? And it is asked of me to work on this type of sensitive technology??? Not in this lifetime!

I seen this coming about 10 - 15 yrs ago. Auto's were getting less and less friendly for upholsterers to work on. I started moving in another direction. Marine, medical and still staying with older auto classics - but late model autos? I beg off on them now. Trucks still seem to be reasonable to work on, but the classic straight bench p/u seat seems to be a thing of the past also.

It is not the fault of the upholstery craft that automobile manufacturers has migrated in this direction - either by their choices or the safety laws being forced on them. It is a choice of the upholsterer to weigh the options of profits compared to liability on what is to their advantage. There is a lot of other types of upholstery work out here to choose from - so as far as this upholsterer - auto manufacturers? You can kiss my grits - I ain't workin on your stuff!   
Mojo
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« #8 : May 30, 2015, 07:39:46 PM »

I think Ricat pretty much summed it up. I read a post once on another forum that included the same exact thing Ricat mentioned, brand of thread, thread size, tension settings, stitch length, etc. Imagine getting dragged into a deposition hearing and having to answer all these questions asked by a lawyer.

Doyle: The taper is a weird one. It starts at the side of the coach, goes inward and back out again. This is to accomodate the bulk from the way the fabric rolls onto the roller tube. I had a guy come to me who wanted his awning re-stitched so I sent him to Rick. Rick is 5 miles from me and takes any re-stitching work I may get in. He called me later and said " Really ? Why do they make these awnings like this ? ". Even he scratched his head over their seaming system.

From everything I have been told by people in the industry, Girard, Carefree and Dometic all use the same name brand fabric we do but have it made to their specifications ( cheaper and lighter ). Most of the vinyl they use is a cheap laminated type. All of their fabric is special run stuff done at the mill specifically for them. You have to remember they are buying truck loads of fabric each year.

I could figure out their method and I know Rick could as well but why ? The amount of time expended plus the liability of making a replacement for such an expensive assembly is not worth it. There just is not a huge market for them to make them financially worth the time and effort.

Chris 
baileyuph
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« #9 : May 31, 2015, 07:41:45 AM »

Chris,

So, do you have an idea who is servicing the coach owners with the awning system being discussed?  Another question about the service business (new replacements as I understand) and their liability:  Does anyone know how those in the business of selling aftermarket awnings and/or providing service (resews - suppose for example) are mitigating their liability?

A general question regarding risk, know of some shops who have been impacted by touching the air bag products?

I, as you, am currently reading of the large airbag manufacturer (Japan) who is swamped with recalls.  It would be interesting to know more about the local service impacts in terms of amount and the technical nature as well.

Doyle

papasage
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« #10 : May 31, 2015, 08:15:36 AM »

always take the  pos.  cable loose  before  taking  anything lose .  took a truck seat out of a right new  ford truck and it had to be towed to  the dealer  and  reset before it would  crank because i didn`t know that the  battery  should be took loose . i guess that is what it was  i have did  some not sure of the year  but no probable .

just recovering 40 years
Mojo
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« #11 : June 06, 2015, 07:34:17 AM »

Doyle:

Most RV dealerships are factory dealers/reps for the corresponding assemblies. They install new assemblies bought from the manufacturer and the manufacturer carries the warranty.

There are very few companies that specialize in fabric replacements for patio awnings. I know of none that make replacement panels for the carefree mirage awnings. They are massive, intricate and can be a royal pain to make. I get calls for them but pass on each one. I send them to the manufacturer for these panels. Main reason why is because it is hard to compete with the manufacturers fabric replacement offerings.

We now only offer fabric replacements for one manufacturer in regards to patio awnings. The rest we quit supporting because of very low margins. Our shop is a production shop but we cannot compete with the manufacturers on production/margins. The reason is because of their expansive facilities and machines/equipment. They are all state of the art and many are automated.

We have to watch our bottom line and move in directions where our margins are the healthiest. Everything changes when you get into a production setting which is why we have made considerable investments in machines over the last two years. Every minute we save increases our bottom line.

Chris
baileyuph
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« #12 : June 06, 2015, 08:32:21 AM »

Chris,

Your approach sounds with very good reasoning and business management.  The key word was "very low margins" and manufacturing "competition".  We smaller industries cannot compete with mass production that has their act together with "high efficiency".

Yes, it all makes for good management on your part.

We are "nitch" operators for sure.  In general my business is highly diversified, a nitch here and one over there; collectively, the business is busier than a three legged cat.  I am not complaining - just working with all the current events and enjoying every bit of it.

For example, I just got another order for, well initially over 300 covers, formal table covers (a very special requirement).  This is very profitable for me but not big enough for a manufacturer to get involved.  The client (have more than one in this category) has and is making the bucks; you of all, with your background, know that usually a business like ours will make money when we work for someone, or an industry, that is making money.  Hard to make it off a poor guy.

Diversified here, is the situation, last week got a pretty good order to work on gymnastic equipment (pads/cushions/etc.).  Those can't be bought cheap from the mass producers and the freight is an expensive factor; plus being small, my business is more responsive - all of which factors into a profitable equation for the small business.

Regarding airbags, being the technical sort, I understand the risk which is half of the battle and will venture in that area when it makes sense and $ to do so.  But, you have to be smart, when getting into that arena.  There are ways to mitigate the risk - like sign this and that - you get the idea.  That work will pay more, again because there is less competition.

Glad to read you have the business under control and are able to add equipments to improve production.  You probably aren't interesting in building an empire.........one could because there is awning business similar to what you are doing out there.  Awning companies, able to do custom requirements do not come cheap. 

I was talking to the owner of a chain that is in need of awning support just last week.  Never know where that will lead in terms of something of a production nature. 

Business of any nature is usually of an evolving nature, because of changes in the market, changes in technology, and the general economy changes that are part of life.

To ascertain, pick any big business today and note they have to keep making changes, even if they are at the top of their sector, i.e. McDonald's! 

Take care,

Doyle

baileyuph
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« #13 : June 09, 2015, 08:48:34 AM »

Regarding working around airbags -- had two fairly large upholstery jobs come my way just last week.  They were doable at a pretty healthy price and the trend is ............many cannot afford to have the work done, especially if the auto value has dropped.

Just buy another cheap car certainly is one of their considerations.

In contrast, Cat seats or something that is a earth machine are different so far....... it wouldn't surprise me if they equipped a seat belt in one of these, but maybe if so, it wouldn't require a sensor.

Business just keeps changing, anyone thought about changing careers?

Doyle
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« #14 : June 09, 2015, 10:34:22 AM »

Doyle:

I started working around businesses when I was 14. My Godfather, a very successful and wealthy business man taught me well. He had the Midas touch and everything he touched turned to gold.
I was blessed to have such a mentor. He was hard on me and more then once would have liked to have strangled me. But he never lost faith in me and pushed me extremely hard through my career.

The one thing he pounded in my head was to take risks, but make sure they are well thought out and calculated. A fool will rush through a door without knowing what is behind it. A wise man will peer through a window first to get an idea as to what he is heading into. 

One of the most important aspects of business is to identify your market and then begin building marketing plans to exploit it. This is what I did in the RV Industry. I found a niche and went with it. Would I do it over again ? Absolutely.  Are there some things I would do differently ? Yup. But I remained very flexible and tweaked our business model constantly.

Yes, I am a stitcher but with alot less experience then most of you when it comes to the different areas of upholstery. But the most important part is that I am a business man first and then a trades person secondly. To be honest, I marvel at some of the work created here by our group and many cases envious. Sometimes it isn't just about the money.

We are still exploring other markets. Thankfully I have a huge cast of players who I consider experts that support me with information, direction, advice, etc. Some of these people are brilliant business minds from our industry and have years of success behind them to prove it. My Godfather always told me " develop your idea's within your mind then present them to trusted confidants who will never lie to you ".

When seeking advice I have always had the motto " tell me something I do not want to hear". If I can get people with vast amounts of experience to tell me what is wrong with my idea's then I can go to work in making changes long before I fail.

I do not particularly enjoy sewing and am now pushing most of it onto the ladies. What I enjoy and live for is the daily business challenges.  :)

Chris
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