Owning a computer means that software upgrades are an inevitable cost of doing business and keeping up with new software can be, at times, daunting.
New and improved software sometimes debuts as quickly as the blink of an eye. Tire Business contacted several software companies to find out what they're offering or about to unveil.
As the following non-comprehensive roundup indicates, many software companies have upgraded their product offerings to make business operations-such as checking inventory and tracking job tasks-easier.
The Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA), based in Bethesda, Md., has released the latest version of the iSHOP open standard software for automotive service shops.
The association said the version 2.0 specification marks a ``significant advance in the industry standard for the interoperability of shop equipment and systems,'' and builds on the strengths of the first iSHOP software released in July 2001. When it was introduced, iSHOP's goal was to develop a single open standard for communication between different pieces of shop equipment, shop management systems, part catalogs, labor guides and repair information providers.
The latest software provides additional interface standards for parts information, parts line filtering, parts buyer's guide, specification data, parts photos, supply chain stocking locations and XML-based diagnostic and inspection results information, AAIA said.
Scott Luckett, AAIA vice president of technology standards and solutions, said iSHOP-compliant products ``allow shop owners to choose the best products for their needs in the front and back shop and enjoy all the advantages of full connectivity. iSHOP version 2.0 is evidence of the continuing evolution and growing sophistication of the industry standard.''
AAIA's member companies manufacture, distribute and sell motor vehicle parts, accessories, tools, equipment, materials and supplies for the automotive aftermarket.
Alldata L.L.C., an AutoZone Inc. company, recently launched an enhancement to Hunter Engineering Co.'s WinAlign Alignment software.
Users can find important technical service bulletins and other repair info automatically appearing within Hunter's software product once a vehicle has been selected. The integration of Alldata's undercar information with WinAlign saves technicians time in looking up data and eliminates the need to re-enter vehicle data, Alldata claimed.
The integration is a feature of WinAlign 7.2 software, which is now included on all Hunter PC-based aligners as a one-year trial subscription.
For more information, visit Alldata's Web site at www.alldata.com.
ASA Tire Systems
At the 2003 Specialty Equipment Market Association show, ASA Tire Systems Inc. launched Analytix, a system designed to help tire dealers better manage their businesses in a user-friendly real-time Microsoft Excel format.
Analytix contains monthly and daily analyses allowing for entry of goals, then tracks daily and weekly against those goals so shortfalls can be spotted early, ASA said. Managers can see what products and services are moving and which locations are on target. ASA recently noted the successful implementation of Analytix software for Denver-based wheel and tire distributor Wheel Pros.
For more information, contact ASA Tire at (603) 889-8700 or visit its Web site at www.asatire.com.
Panama City Beach, Fla.-based AutoWare Technologies L.L.C. has released TreadWare version 3.0, which has added enhancements to its plus-size calculator.
The calculator shows a tire's section width in inches for each size displayed and allows plus-sizing up to plus-12 for all of today's ``extreme fitments,'' the company said. The product interface has been improved in user friendliness and more smoothly integrates with AutoWare Technologies' SoftWheels wheel program. The new version also contains hundreds of new and updated tires.
The product also has been upgraded to include instant search capabilities for more than 12,000 vehicles and 800 tires with full specs, stock numbers and tread images.
For more information, contact AutoWare Technologies at (850) 230-9695 or visit www.autowaretech.com.
CarParts Technologies Inc. of San Juan Capistrano, Calif., has added new features to its VAST tire and auto service management system.
VAST POS version 6.5 includes:
* Telephone sales scripting to help train new employees on the proper way to sell tires and services over the phone and when presenting customers with their invoice and warranty;
* Reverse telephone directory lookup designed to save time and improve accuracy when giving new customers quotes; and
* Cell phone text messaging that allows a dealer to send text messages via the Internet to a cell phone on any major carrier. Dealers can notify customers when it's time to call for an estimate or pick up their vehicles.
CarParts Technologies also is releasing in October OpenWebs version 4.2, which will include part and price updating; tire lookup capabilities by size and manufacturer; tire quoting capability; accounts receivable/invoice look-up function by number or date range; and parts and tire inquiry and ordering through the VAST POS system.
For more information, contact CarParts Technologies at (949) 488-8860 or visit www.carpartstechnologies.com.
Ferret Instruments, based in Cheboygan, Mich., recently released its Smart Spec driveability diagnostics CD-ROM (Ferret 601), which it claims provides clear data and crisp diagrams on 1990-2001 Ford, Chrysler and GM vehicles, for a one-time fee of less than $300.
The company-which engineers, manufactures and markets professional automotive diagnostic equipment-said Smart Spec offers ``unique real-world data'' based on field research that provides tighter specs than manufacturer data.
The program includes OBDII data detailing descriptions of what each specific DTC means, possible remedies and a list of other codes that DTC may block. Quick navigation takes just three clicks to get to vehicle-specific data, according to the firm.
``Suggested retail price for our unlimited use Smart Spec CD is less than some services charge for a one-month subscription,'' said Don Russell, vice president of marketing. He added that ``one tech told me, `Smart Spec will save hours wasted digging for data that just isn't available in other sources.'''
For more information, contact Ferret Instruments at (800) 627-5655 or visit www.ferretinstruments.com.
Asheboro, N.C.-based Freedom Soft has added new features to its TireShop software product, including the integration of vehicle maintenance schedules, lube specifications and part and labor guides.
The product accesses local phone listings to fill in new customer information for dealers; it incorporates an employee time clock system; it has sophisticated user tracking and access systems; and TireShop has complete integration with MAS90 accounting software for dealers who have sophisticated accounting needs, the company said.
Freedom Soft President Jim Yelverton said additional features will be added to TireShop by year's end, including a wireless flat panel with personal data assistance, which allows dealers to enter orders from the customer waiting room or parking lot.
The product also will be integrated with its sister product, LubeShop, as well as with American Tire Distributors Inc.'s Heafnet online ordering system.
Wireless vehicle information scanning that provides instant access to vehicle histories, maintenance schedules and lube specifications also will be available by year's end.
For more information, contact Freedom Soft at (800) 869-6846.