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Collaboration Equals Success

Sharing information has been and continues to be an integral part of the auto recycling industry

I’m often asked what signifies the difference between auto wrecking and auto recycling. Essentially, it boils down to your approach to the business.

In a nutshell, recyclers tend to take a more progressive approach. This primarily stems from how they view and use the data generated by their business and subsequently share that data with other people. As the auto recycling industry has evolved, we’ve been able to adapt to changes and demands for sharing information through the use of tools such as computerized inventory systems.

Keeping Track
Prior to the introduction of these systems around 25 years ago, most recycling facilities used a card system where staff would write down by hand the VIN or type of vehicle along with the parts they had for each car. Whenever someone would call, they would ip through these cards and cross items off as they were sold—it was a very rudimentary process.

Today, things have changed. You can enter the VIN and the computer system decodes the VIN into about 250 part types and assemblies to manage stock and examine the overall profitability of an individual car.

These sophisticated algorithms know what value is left on a vehicle at any point in time, allowing a recycler to make decisions on whether finding and keeping a particular model is worthwhile. Using this data, our industry has become not only more efficient, but more collaborative.

Sharing Culture
Today, the concept of recyclers sharing inventory with others has morphed into cloud computing with instantaneous access to your inventory, your trade partner’s inventory—even the entire industry if you want to access 5,000 digitized recyclers across North America.

We’ve always shared, regardless of the technology available to us at the time. In the beginning, we’d run a 24/7 conference call amongst members where anyone could instantly request what parts they were looking for. Members across a region would respond back and the result expanded everybody’s inventory.

Today, we’re sharing our inventory almost in real time with collision repairers, insurers and recyclers to speed up the process and get better information into those people’s hands earlier during the estimating process.

Greater Sophistication
Even today, the general view is that auto recyclers are little more than scrap yards where unwanted cars and parts are collected and somehow disposed of. In reality, auto recycling has always been about sharing inventory and information.

The Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association (OARA) considers data so vital that it has its own server where a majority of members upload their inventory on a daily basis. We’re aggregating inventory and we’re now working with industry partners to make sure we’re giving them the right data while controlling this incredibly valuable resource that we’ve created.

This is what really defines us: We care about the parts and those businesses that extract and reuse them, as well as moving the 3R’s higher up— Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. It’s not just about recycling the vehicle but reusing it while reducing waste, and it’s the data that allows us to do that.

People often don’t realize how sophisticated our business is and I think this acceptance and utilization of both data and collaboration is a model that the entire automotive industry can also benefit from.

Collision Management October 2015 page 25