DEKRA Experts using SATA spray guns at the DEKRA training centre in Altensteig, Germany
All it takes is being distracted or careless for a moment... and before you know it, you've got a fender bender on your car, which in turn means that your car's body is damaged, which usually entails damage to the car's paintwork.
The most important thing, of course, is that nobody got hurt, but irrespective of who an injured party may be in relation to the fender bender, it's advisable to have the damage repaired professionally, and of course we commend the event whenever an insurance company is prepared to cover the cost.
Most insurance companies in Germany would classify damages with repair costs of up to 750 euros as a minor loss. The damage may be minor, of course... but it can also be more serious. The exact nature of the issue is usually clarified in an appraisal by the motor vehicle department.
How do motor vehicle inspectors know exactly what to look for, and how can I estimate the effort and cost involved in the repair?
The company's in-house experts, coming in from all over Germany, receive intensive training at the DEKRA Training Centre in Altensteig in the Black Forest. They learn how a vehicle is built and put together, how it behaves and reacts in a situation involving an accident, and of course how it can be repaired – which is why training participants are allowed to lend a hand in the body shop and the paint booth. This is how experts acquire not "just" theoretical but also practical knowledge in order to be able to correctly assess the effort that may be required for necessary repair work as well as repair possibilities. This means that the inspectors not only learn about the theoretical aspects of paint structure and the fact that there are different paint materials and painting systems, but also get to experience the act of sanding, filling and painting for themselves – while using SATA spray guns.
That's why a two-week course on the subject of "bodywork and paintwork" was made mandatory within the training programme in order to become a DEKRA damage estimator. The venue for this event is the training hall in Altensteig, Germany. It's equipped with state-of-the-art tools and technology for testing and bodywork processing, as well as a state-of-the-art paint shop where training participants get to experience painting with SATA spray guns.
Björn Schwenk, a painting technology specialist at the DEKRA training centre in Altensteig
Interview with Björn Schwenk:
What requirements do you need to meet in order to become an expert at DEKRA?
Prospective candidates are sent to us from one of the 74 branches and must be able to present a master craftsman title in the area of car body construction or motor vehicle mechanics in order to become a DEKRA damage estimator.
What kind of training do they undergo to become an expert?
The training takes about four months and begins with the preparation to become a vehicle damage estimator. This intermediate step already qualifies them to carry out vehicle evaluations at all car dealerships and in some cases directly at the car manufacturers. A completed apprenticeship in the motor vehicle industry also suffices for this. After this section has been completed successfully, the course proceeds in additional blocks towards a two-day examination, in which their competence is tested in practical, theoretical and oral form.
What do prospective damage estimators learn in your training centre?
Throughout their training, prospective damage estimators learn everything about motor vehicle technology as well as how to use the company's in-house software. They also learn the basics of the caravan, motorbike and commercial vehicle sectors. In addition to the technology, claims law and settlement are also essential, and they learn everything right up to insurance law.
In our paint shop, the prospective damage estimator learns to understand the basics of paint technology. They need be able to contribute to a discussion and know arguments both for and against supplementary painting and know how professional touch-up painting works. Their knowledge of modern techniques, the possibilities of partial coating and associated costing applications make our experts the most reliable links in the claims process.
What other courses do you offer, apart from training to become a damage estimator?
Due to the deep insights gathered in basic training, certain affinities quickly and frequently tend to crystallise among the graduates. These interests can be pursued in additional courses so that candidates can become specialised classic car, paint damage, aggregate, fire damage, mobile machinery, bicycle damage estimators, among many other options.
Since when does the DEKRA training centre rely on SATA spray guns, and why?
The course, which has been offered for over 20 years, has always evolved as we adapted it to many innovations, although one thing has remained consistent from the very beginning, and that's SATA.
What is it you appreciate most about SATA spray guns?
They're sturdy, and I know I can depend on them ... even when I give them to students who've never been in a paint booth before. And that gives me great piece of mind ... especially in a training context.
Could you tell us more about the DEKRA seal for bodywork and paint companies?
- The seal confirms that independent bodyshops and paintshops are qualified to carry out repairs equivalent to ones carried out by brand-name workshops.
- Within the context of the workshop inspection, the assessment takes place in three parts:
- An on-site inspection of the workshop's equipment
- Examination of various required documents (e.g. training certificates, maintenance certificates, etc.)
- Examination of repair quality on the basis of a work sample.
During this inspection of the company's equipment based on a defined inspection protocol, the presence of separate filler and spray spatulas, basecoat and clearcoat spray guns in the painting area is verified. In addition, a work sample that shows the repair quality of the paintwork must be passed in the certification (surface condition, paint inclusions, transitions/coating, etc.).
Using brand-name tools from well-known, reputable manufacturers, we can draw the assumption that the refinishing will be of high quality from a technical point of view. Examination of a painted mudguard in daylight.